Institutional autism is understood as a learned
behavior produced by an institutional environment such as an orphanage.
Some autistic-like behaviors may be adaptive in an institution, but
become mal-adaptive after the child's adoption into a family. A differential
diagnosis between autism as a medical condition and learned autistic-like
post-institutional behaviors is to be made.
A conclusion is drawn that institutional autism
is merely a description of certain patterns of post-institutionalized
behavior that may appear similar to what is observed in children with
autism. Abrupt native language attrition, typical for the majority of
international adoptees, could contribute to autistic-like behavior.
Given the fact that the core features of autism
are delayed or impaired language skills and communication, professionals
widely advise families to only speak and teach one language to their
autistic child, namely the official language of the country they live
in. Bilingual families are therefore faced with the traumatic decision
of deciding which language they should raise their autistic child in.
Internationally adopted children with autistic features
are in a especially difficult situation: they may become nonverbal,
forgetting the native language and not being able to learn the new one
at an age appropriate level.
Autism In Children Adopted Internationally:
Myth Or Reality?
Whats it all about?