So, I am not sure where to even start so here goes... Sasha is very behind in his language development. He is now a little over 3 years old and I would say that he has the language skills of someone closer to having just turned 2, if even that. I was fully aware that he might be a little behind after coming home from the orphanage. We were told that typically, for every 3 months they spend in an institution, you can predict that they will be 1 month behind developmentally. Well that puts him at about 6 months behind but he is way more behind than that. I guess I was fairly naive about where his language would be and where he would be after being home for over a year and half. To me, something seems not right but then again, I can't say that I have much knowledge in this area. Yes, I am a special ed teacher but I have never worked with kids that have come from institutions.
Every one that works with Sasha says that everything is fine and he is progressing as he should. We have been told repeatedly that it takes time. His doctor, his two speech pathologists, his special ed teachers, his geneticist, his neurosurgeon... nobody seems the least bit concerned expect his dad and I. Now this is probably where most people would say well then just stop worrying. But the thing is, these people aren't with Sasha everyday. Some, such as his geneticist and his neurosurgeon, haven't seen him since he came home. We are with Sasha everyday and to us, it just seems like he should be able to communicate better by this point. Sometimes as well, I feel that people don't expect as much from Sasha. They see his physical limitations and automatically assume that he has cognitive difficulties as well. As far as we can tell from all the tests that he has had, there are no cognitive issues that should be causing any of his language difficulties... supposedly it is all from being institutionalized for the first 18 months of his life.
If this is true, how long does it take for these kids coming out of these institutions to typically catch up? Does it usually take months, 1 year, 3 years, 5 years... will it ever happen because to be completely honest, sometimes I wonder if he will ever catch up. I understand no one can tell me exactly how long it will take Sasha. It would be so helpful to hear though from people who have been in this position or who have worked with kids like Sasha. I guess I just need some answers or some clarification as to what the norm is here. Is it normal for him to be this far behind? Does is truly take years and years to catch up?
Everything seems to check out fine with him. His hearing is outstanding... in fact, he is a master at imitating sounds. If he hears a paper rip from across the room, or tapping on a table... basically any sound, he can imitate it perfectly and loves to do it. I guess this comes from sitting in his crib all the time listening to all the sounds in orphanage and finding ways to entertain himself. It's really quite impressive what he can do. His oral structure appears fine... there doesn't seem to be any physical reason why he is struggling. Pretty much everything checks out. I do worry about something his neurosurgeon said after he first came home. Sasha has craniosynostosis so he had to have a scan when he first came home to make sure that his brain was not being pushed on in certain parts because of his abnormal bone structure. His neurosurgeon said everything looked great and that he did not need surgery. He did say that we should keep our eye on things in the future, just to be safe and if we ever heard him complain about headaches a lot or if he was struggling in school, that we should have him checked out again to make sure everything still checked out okay. Well, now I am wondering if his language development difficulties have to do with this rather than the fact that he had been in an orphanage. My husband isn't concerned about this and thinks that his brain is just fine. I guess if I knew that what he is dealing with in terms of his language, truly is typical, then I wouldn't worry about this.
In terms of the help he gets... I work with Sasha at home a lot and have been since he got home. He also goes to preschool fives times a week now which he started in November. Since starting preschool he has definitely improved which is reassuring but is still so far behind in my opinion.
Here are a few examples of where he is at...
1. He can say thank you, please, your welcome, hi, bye, night night, I love you, more, again, get down, potty, Elmo, Fire(for his Kindle Fire), chocolate, cottage cheese, banana, muffin, milk (more like gilk), water(more like "why you"), mama, daddy, what, car, button, kiss, cuddle, Cars 2... I could go on and on but basically he says one word things from his daily world.
2. He can sing the ABC's and when presented with flashcards, only typically misses about 7 letters out of the whole alphabet.
3. He can count to 10, usually.
4. He can say and identify some colors and shapes.
5. He does not put words into sentences. He simply speaks in one or two word phrases.
6. He cannot hold a conversation.
7. He can understand when you ask him a question but can't always answer it.
7. Yesterday I heard someone singing the lyrics to the song on the radio perfectly. I thought it was Brooks. I looked back and it was Sasha! That was a nice surprise.
That's basically where he is at. Like I said, he is a little over 3 and he has been home from the orphanage for about 20 months now after spending his first 18 months there. So, is this typical? Is this where he should be? Should I be concerned? What should my realistic expectations be? Any and all help, suggestions, prayers for Sasha's growth in this area... any thing at all would be so helpful at this point because I am feeling a bit lost here. Thank you!!!