for Internationally Adopted Adolescents with
Educational Handicapping Conditions
B. Gindis Ph.D.
The purpose of this article is to help families
with internationally adopted (IA) adolescents plan their youngsters'
life after high school and ensure that they gain the skills, self-confidence
and social connections they need for adulthood. The Individual Transitional
Plan (ITP) is designed to create the basis for their future independent
(or semi-independent) life, gainful (or supportive/sheltered) employment,
and most importantly, the emotional stability and social connectedness
that is the foundation for what is commonly known as "normal life".
Specificity of the IA children transitioning
IA children with an educational classification
(designation of educational handicapping condition) constitute a special
group among students with different educationally related disabilities.
IA child may have any of the 13 educational classifications listed in
the major federal law, IDEA-2004 (Individuals with Disability Education
Act, re-authorized by the Congress in 2004), or a combination of two
or more of those conditions). Statistically, the most often classifications
given to IA children are, in descending order, Other Health Impaired,
Learning Disabled, Emotionally Disturbed, Speech/Language Impaired,
Multiple Disability, Autism (Gindis, 2009).
Transition to adulthood is particularly hard
for IA youngsters with special educational needs because their mental,
neurological, and educational "profile" includes the following
- Neurological impairment(s) related to pre-and-post
birth adverse conditions. Sometimes they have a distinct neurologically-based
disorder such as Fetal Alcohol Syndrome or Autism (Gindis, 2014).
In most cases, however, there is a generalized (undifferentiated)
weakness of the Central Nervous System that reveals itself in sensory-motor
dis-integration, emotional reactivity and rigidity, dis-regulated
attention and concentration, and a host of "soft" neurological
signs (Miller, 2004, Marlow, 2005).
- Exposure to severe neglect, abuse, and deprivation
in the early, most formative years of their life has mediated their
development and led to what is known as Developmental Trauma Disorder
(Van der Kolk, B.A. 2005). Among most prominent characteristics
of children affected with DTD are "mixed maturity" (delays
in self-regulation of emotions and behavior), hyper-arousal and
hypo-arousal, emotional fragility/oversensitivity, and cumulative
delays in cognitive/academic functioning in comparison with age
norms and expectations (Nemeroff, 2004, Gindis, 2005, Marlow, 2005,
Perry, 2006, Gunnar, & Van Dulmen, 2007).
- A range of atypical features resulting from the abrupt
loss of their first language and a specific mode of learning English
(Gindis, 2008) and difficulties in adjustment to their new social/cultural
environment and more advanced educational system as consequence
of social/cultural/educational deprivation in the past (Gindis,
- A constellation of specific adoption issues (abandonment
syndrome, attachment difficulties, negative self-perception, etc.)
that creates a depressive emotional background for learning and
socialization, particularly in the adolescent period of life (Welsh,
2007, Rolnick, 2010).
the complete article
about Dr. Gindis' psychological services