Children adopted from orphanages may have speech delays. The severity often depends on the quality of care they received and the amount of time spent in the institutional setting. Speech delay symptoms can include a lack of eye contact, problems producing speech, lack of progress in speaking, language acquisition and enunciation. Here is a more comprehensive list of speech milestones and symptoms that may point to a speech delay.
Children adopted at an older age may have a different first language than the family they are joining. When possible, the assessment of their speech and language skills would be better done in their first language. This article from a speech therapy blog provides insights into speech delays with older children.
There are many options available to help children with speech and language. An evaluation by a speech language pathologist (SLP) can help families understand the extent of help required. The SLP can also help with interventions. If the speech delay is related to the physical coordination between the mouth and tongue, then therapies like reflex integration can also help.
Adoptive parents should trust their gut about whether to get an evaluation done. An official diagnosis can also help get a special needs designation in the child’s school (if applicable). Some school districts are able to provide speech therapy and other special services at no additional cost to families.
The earlier the intervention begins, the more quickly a child can benefit. Neuroplasticity of the brain means that most children do make significant progress, though families may need to be patient as speech delays can take a long time to resolve.