Behavior Problems In Children Adopted From Socially-Emotionally
A graduate student study points out that post-institutionalized
children are at higher risk of Attention Problems and Aggressive
Behavior even when institutional deficiencies were limited to
the assignment of children to a large number of short-term caregivers
who provided impersonal, routine care. Risk of these behavior
problems and Social Problems increased substantially after 12
months in a socially-emotionally depriving orphanage but did not
increase again with longer exposure. A similar set of behavior
problems was found for children exposed to more severe early deprivation,
proving the association of these behavior problems with the severity
of the orphanage environment.
Habiba Ahmed Abd Elaziz
Much like every other Sharia law, the law of
adoption is interpreted differently, from one school of thought
to the other.
Attention and Video Games
Impulsive children with attention problems
tend to play more video games, while children in general who spend
lots of time video gaming may develop impulsivity and attention
difficulties, according to new research.
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in Internationally Adopted Children
B. Gindis Ph.D.
The psychological effect on child's behavior produced
by living in orphanage did not attract the attention of scientists until
the first international adoptees from Romania arrived to America. The
last US orphanage was closed almost 70 years ago, and the notion of
"orphanage behavior" disappeared from the researchers' radar.
But when adoption of children from the overseas orphanages reached big
numbers during the last two decades, the monster returned but was not
recognized. It was given many fancy names, from "institutional
autism" to "attachment disorder." In cases of "institutional
autism," those children would be later diagnosed with "real"
autism or, more often, their behavior would gradually morph into normal
family-oriented and acceptable patterns (see my article
Institutional autism in children adopted internationally: myth or reality?
The situation with attachment diagnoses was even more complex (see my
disorder: are we trying to fit square pegs into the round holes?
), as a child's unruly or unusual behavior in a family setting was not
necessarily a sign of any medical/psychiatric condition. In fact, in
many cases this was a post-orphanage behavior, magnified by an early
childhood trauma and reinforced by the abrupt loss of first language
and new negative circumstances.
We all intuitively understand that an institutional
culture must be the breeding ground for institutional behavior among
children who do not get adequate care and proper mediation from adults
in their early most formative years, are continuously traumatized,
and often forced into survival mode. We do not have any reliable research
on these depraving forces, but we do see the psychological effects
and consequences of these conditions for children in their post-institutional
period, which I will identify and describe based on my observations
and on hundreds of psychological assessments I have conducted over
Post-Orphanage Behavior (POB) syndrome is a cluster of learned (acquired)
behaviors that could have been adaptive and effective in orphanages
but became maladaptive and counter-productive in the new family environment.
I believe that to some extent we can initially observe some patterns
of POB in the majority of post-institutionalized children. As one
can see further, some characteristics of POB may even contradict each
other (e.g., learned helplessness and self-parenting), but nevertheless
can still be found in the same child. In fact, the illogical combination
of seemingly opposite characteristics is the very essence of POB.
Though it is difficult to trace the direct link between certain environmental
conditions affecting a former orphanage resident with the resulting
psychological traits of the growing up person who now lives in the
family - it's always a complex combination of biological and social
aspects - we have to identify the main patterns of expected and common
post-orphanage behavior and separate temporary from long-term psychological
problems. Below we will look at several components of post-orphanage
behavior. They are most common among international adoptees, but there
may be some additional traits which I do not review here like hoarding,
stealing, habitual lying, and other anti-social acts reported by adoptive
Poor self regulation
A peculiar combination of rigid routine with ongoing uncontrollable
changes in the environment is typical for foreign institutions: constant
turnover of caregivers and frequent transfers of children between institutions
create unpredictability in living arrangements and lead to a tremendous
sense of instability and lack of control. On the other hand, children's
everyday routines are fixed with rigid schedules, virtually no personal
choices, and no private possession of toys or other goods. As a result
of this everyday routine combined with sudden uncontrollable change,
there is a minimal need for behavioral self-regulation, long-term planning,
or a need to practice goal-directed consistent behavior. The orphanage
residents live in a "reactive" mode, surviving "one day at a time."
Immaturity in self-regulation of behavior and emotions can be seen in
such behavior patterns as:
- Difficulties with sustaining goal-directed behavior,
independent generating of problem-solving strategies and methods
toward achieving goals, carrying out multi-step activities and following
complex instructions, monitoring/checking and keeping track of performance.
- Emotional volatility - the inability to modulate
emotional responses. These children are easily aroused emotionally
- whether happy or sad, the speed and intensity with which they
move to the extreme of their emotions is much greater than that
of their same age peers; they are often on a roller coaster ride
of emotions. As observed by one parent: "When my 8-year-old is happy,
he is so happy that people tell him to calm down. When he is unhappy,
he is so unhappy that people tell him to calm down."
- Reluctance/unwillingness to perform tasks
that are repetitive, uninteresting, require effort, and that have
not been chosen by the child (but that is what life in general and
school learning in particular consist of!). It is very hard for
them to shift (to make transitions, change focus from one
mindset to another, switch or alternate attention) and to inhibit,
resist, or not act on an impulse, including an ability to stop
one's activity at the appropriate time.
- Difficulty with delaying gratification and accepting
"No" for an answer. In this respect many post-institutionalized
children are rather similar to much younger children than to their