Early adolescent outcomes of institutionally-deprived and non-deprived adoptees. II: language as a protective factor and a vulnerable outcome.
ABSTRACT There is uncertainty about the extent to which language skills are part of general intelligence and even more uncertainty on whether deprivation has differential effects on language and non-language skills.
Language and cognitive outcomes at 6 and 11 years of age were compared between a sample of 132 institution-reared Romanian children adopted into UK families under the age of 42 months, and a sample of 49 children adopted within the UK under the age of 6 months who had not experienced either institutional rearing or profound deprivation.
The effects of institutional deprivation were basically similar for language and cognitive outcomes at age 6; in both there were few negative effects of deprivation if it ended before the age of 6 months and there was no linear association with duration of deprivation within the 6 to 42 month range. For the children over 18 months on arrival (range 18-42 months), the presence of even very minimal language skills (imitation of speech sounds) at the time of arrival was a strong beneficial prognostic factor for language and cognitive outcomes, but not for social/emotional/behavioural outcomes. Individual variations in adoptive parent characteristics were unrelated to differences in language or cognitive outcomes, possibly as a consequence of the limited variability in the adoptive family group.
Minimal language probably indexes some form of cognitive reserve that, in turn, indexes the degree of institutional deprivation.
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ABSTRACT: In recent years, many children from Eastern European orphanages have been adopted by families in the United States. When children begin life with their new families, they experience an abrupt language shift in which the learning of their native language halts as the learning of the new language commences. Without the support of their native language, their language-learning experiences differ from those of most children learning English as a second language. To better support these children in their language learning, the language and reading achievement of 44 children adopted from Eastern European orphanages were clinically assessed with standardized tests and natural-language samples to determine the extent and types of problems present in the areas of language (i.e., overall spoken language, receptive language, morphology, semantics, syntax, pragmatics) and reading. Orphanage, adoption, and individual factors that might be associated with language/reading achievement were also explored. As a group, the adopted children performed lower than age expectations on all measures. Language impairments and reading deficits were apparent in about one third of the children, with nearly 14% demonstrating significant deficiencies in both language and reading. Several orphanage and adoption factors were associated with reading outcomes. Recommendations for assessment and intervention are provided.Journal of Early Intervention - J EARLY INTERVENTION. 01/2011; 33(1):51-74.
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ABSTRACT: The degree to which early adverse experiences exert long term effects on development and how much early adversity may be overcome through subsequent experiences are important mental health questions. The clinical, research and policy perspectives on these questions lead to different answers. From a clinical perspective, change is always possible, and it is never too late. From a research perspective, there are data indicating that there are sensitive periods in brain development, which may constrain subsequent adaptability. From a policy perspective, there is a growing consensus that early intervention is cost effective from the standpoint of child development, neuroscience and economic research.Journal of Loss and Trauma 01/2009; 14(4):266-279. · 1.03 Impact Factor
Article: VI. SENSITIVE PERIODS[Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
ABSTRACT: This chapter reviews sensitive periods in human brain development based on the literature on children raised in institutions. Sensitive experiences occur when experiences are uniquely influential for the development of neural circuitry. Because in humans, we make inferences about sensitive periods from evaluations of complex behaviors, we underestimate the occurrence of sensitive periods at the level of neural circuitry. Although we are most interested in complex behaviors, such as IQ or attachment or externalizing problems, many different sensitive periods at the level of circuits probably underlie these complex behaviors. Results from a number of studies suggest that across most, but not all, domains of development, institutional rearing limited to the first 4-6 months of life is associated with no significant increase risk for long-term adverse effects relative to noninstitutionalized children. Beyond that, evidence for sensitive periods is less compelling, meaning that "the earlier the better" rule for enhanced caregiving is a reasonable conclusion at the current state of the science.Monographs of the Society for Research in Child Development 12/2011; 76(4):147-162. · 5.50 Impact Factor