International Adoption Info

Newsletter #132 for Internationally Adopting Parents
July 27, 2010
PAL Center Inc.


Dr. Gindis accept patients in his Phoenix, AZ office on September 13-24, 2010
Call 845-694-8496
for details


New Specialist
in the BGCenter-West

Carol Zelaya
School Psychologist,
M.Ed., Ed.S.

Beginning June 2010,
we accept
Spanish-speaking internationally adopted children
psychological screening, proper school placement determination, and services
in our BGCenter-West office
in Phoenix, Arizona.

For more information
call 845-694-8496

or email

You receive this newsletter
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of the Center for Cognitive-Developmental
Assessment & Remediation,
or a former student
of the BGCenter Online School,
or a user of the International Adoption Articles Directory.



Latest Articles
from the

International Adoption Articles Directory

New Articles

Developmental Delays in
Internationally Adopted Children

Dr. B. Gindis
Practically all children from foreign institutions (even adopted as infants) come into their adoptive families with a developmental delay of some sort. This is a well known fact and a commonly expected condition that often causes prospective parents ask questions about developmental delays as well as research them on the Internet.

Unfortunately the information from many websites on "developmental delay" and "global developmental delay" is rather vague and amounts mostly to saying that "children with developmental delays reach the same developmental milestones and acquire the same skills as every child, but just a bit slower." The situation is more complicated than that when we talk about post-institutionalized adopted children.

First, we have to differentiate between two terms sometimes (wrongly) used interchangeably: developmental disorder and developmental delay.

The first term, developmental disorder (or developmental disability), is used in the domain of psychiatry and psychology and deals with specific neurologically-based weaknesses that are typically diagnosed in infancy, childhood, or adolescence. The examples would be:

  • Pervasive Developmental Disorders (Autism, Asperger's, PDD-NOS)
  • Mental Retardation
  • Learning Disorder
  • Motor skills Disorder
  • Communication (Speech and language) Disorder
  • Reactive Attachment Disorder
  • Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder
  • Eating Disorder
  • Others (see DSM-lV-TR, American Psychiatric Association, Washington, DC, 2000, pages 39 to 134)
The second term, developmental delay, is used in the domain of education, culture, and everyday life where the notion is based mostly on observations of a tardy development of a child in comparison with other children of the same chronological age, or in comparison with the general socio-cultural expectations for a certain age group. This kind of developmental delay is not necessarily due to organic impairment or genetic abnormality, but rather to social/cultural factors, such as educational neglect, cultural deprivation, emotional trauma and abuse, etc.

It must be clearly stated that both developmental disorders and developmental delays can be found in post-institutionalized children adopted internationally, and in many cases developmental delays are produced by a combination of neurological weaknesses, certain medical conditions (e.g., cleft palate), and profound educational neglect, social/cultural deprivation and socially induced emotional trauma.

In many medical histories of internationally adopted children (at least from countries of Eastern Europe) one may find the following notations:

  • Delay in psycho-motor development
  • Delay in language and psychological development
  • Temporal delay in psychological development
  • Delay in psychological development due to social conditions
These delays are not medical diagnoses per se, but, rather, are the terms used to indicate observed deficiencies in the child's adaptive skills, school readiness, emotional maturity, behavior self-regulation, etc. in comparison with their peers. The degree of delays may be very different, ranging from a relatively mild gap between the norms and the actual developmental status of the child to a significant developmental disability. Thus, the degree of needed rehabilitation is also different: from a minimal remedial support service to a full time special education program. The recovery from any developmental delay in international adoptees is a highly individualized process with different outcomes that depend on the underlying causes, the child's age, timely applied remediation, and the appropriateness and intensity of selected remedial strategies.
The public at large, parents, and health and educational professionals typically are well aware of the necessity of effective rehabilitation for children with developmental disorders. At the same time, there is still a lot of misunderstanding or bluntly wrong assumptions regarding developmental delays of the non-organic nature. In internationally adopted children such delays, if not addressed, may lead to very significant consequences, no less disruptive and debilitating than organic-based disorders. So let us have a closer look at this phenomenon.
Internet Digest

Language Arts
Some kids are lucky to be able to keep their native language ....for a while.
So You Want to Adopt Internationally - Read This First


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