Now that Karen seems fairly well squared away for the school year, my worries move to Matan. He’s just past 3.5 yo. and still has serious speech issues. I came face to face with his problem on Yom Kippur at the playground. He was playing with another child who was smaller, but had excellent speech. When I asked, his mother told me he was 2 yo. A year and a half younger than Matan, and with much better speech.

Speech worries me on two counts. First, the inability to communicate causes him frustrations. He is usually a very easygoing little boy, but he’s been acting out a lot lately and I think much of it is due to frustration over his inability to express himself.

The second concern is that speech is just a symptom of a wider issue. Although he socializes well with children of his age, and even older, he is very passive when it comes to something that he needs to make any effort towards. Maybe it’s wrong to say about a toddler, but he seems like a lazy thinker. Either that, or else he has difficulty holding a train of thought.

On the other hand, I remind myself that I have read many sources that claim that children adopted as toddlers only begin their emotional development once they are with their forever family. This went a long way in explaining why Karen, who in many ways is developed beyond her age, still often has the emotional reactions of a 4 yo.

When we adopted Matan, he seemed like an infant in many ways. He had absolutely NO speech, only grunts. He could barely walk more than a few steps. He clearly wanted to be held and cuddled like a baby and he ate only soft or blended foods. For me, this indicates that maybe his speech, like emotional development, should be measured from the time of adoption, and not in chronological age. Matan has been with us for less than 2 years. His speech is about normal for a 2 yo boy, so if speech is similar to emotional development, then he’s fairly on target. I get these thoughts to quiet my fears for him. But it doesn’t mean I don’t take action.

Sometimes I think he almost wants to remain a baby in many ways. Lately he meows like a cat. A happy meow indicates he’s satisfied, and angry one has me asking him what’s wrong. Talking like a cat may be a creative way for him to maintain a baby’s repertoire of happy/sad sounds. He also often cleaves to me like an infant, so I know he still needs a the emotional security he never had as a baby. Language is probably mixed in with all the emotional stuff he’s dealing with in his barely-verbal brain.

He’s been in speech therapy for almost a year, and I don’t think it’s doing enough for him. I am considering checking out some private speech therapy options which may include a more intensive treatment plan or just a speech therapist who clicks better with Matan. He doesn’t have the greatest chemistry with his current speech therapist who is treating him via our health insurance and as part of the Child Development Center where he’s also gotten excellent occupational therapy and developmental diagnosis.

At least now Matan wants to speak. A year ago, he showed zero interest in even trying.