Newsletter #34 for Internationally Adopting Parents
October 8, 2006
PAL Center Inc.

In this issue

There is no substitute for preparation to adoption of an older child from abroad.
There will be difficulties - guaranteed.
Think how you can approach
expected issues well in advance.

Check out the course library,
use the opportunity to speak to the instructors.

New services at BGCenter:

Natalia Likhtik now offers bilingual speech/language assessment at the new BGCenter office






BGCenter accepts files and videos
for an early stage screening
of your perspective child.
Due to their size, such files often can't
transmitted via email or
delivered quickly via regular mail
(ex.: while you are abroad).

Call the center for instructions
on uploading your files for a psychological screening

You receive this newsletter as a former client or correspondent 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

Natalia Likhtik, Bilingual Speech and Language Pathologist
Helping your child to acquire language: how to be explicit, consistent and redundant
The problem of how a child comes to know what words refer to which objects or actions is complicated by the fact that a single object or event has many parts and features that can be referred to in a great many ways. The key to helping your child to acquire language as soon as possible is to create persistent frames of references within his immediate environment. To do it you have to be explicit, consistent, and redundant. Here is how you can do it.

From Our Database

Boris Gindis, Ph.D.
What should adoptive parents know about their children’s language-based school difficulties?
A combination of various causes may lead to what is called educational handicapping conditions. They are described in our school system as 13 educational classifications and listed in the federal law, IDEA. Usually language-based educational handicapping conditions are designated either as Learning Disability or Language Impairment.

Questions and Answers

Q.. Dr. Gindis, we adopted an 11 year old boy from Guatemala last year. He was placed in 5th grade here, even though he had not attended school past 1st grade in his homeland. I insisted on an LD evaluation by the school district and much of the language component was done in his native language. We also had a separate neuropsych eval. He was determined to be of normal intelligence but, not surprisingly, quite a bit below other children his age in terms of academic skills. Despite his low test results, the school refuses to give him LD services, saying that his low test scores result from "lack of educational opportunity;" not from an innate cognitive barrier (e.g. developmental delay). So he is simply thrown in with his now-6th grade peers, where it is hoped he will learn by osmosis, I guess. Can they get away with this?

A. Your school district can get away with this situation based on their formal, “literal” so to speak, reading of IDEA – the major Federal Law related to special education services in schools. Indeed, the IDEA excludes "environment, cultural and economic disadvantage" as causes of learning disabilities. The school may choose to define the orphanage as disadvantaged environment that caused the child's delays. Such argument would then continue that the child is not really disabled (just lived in a less-than-optimum environment) and is, therefore, not eligible for an LD classification. The school can then refuse special education services.

This approach should not be allowed because it effectively resumes the same educational deprivation and neglect your son experienced in Guatemala when he did not advance beyond the 1st grade until the age of 11. A lot of parents in similar situations would usually do the following:

Find an advocate or (much more expensive) lawyer practicing special education law. Find an experienced with the international adoption cases psychologist, who would be able to interpret the previous assessments' findings to show that:

  • Your son is not able to benefit from the mainstream age-appropriate educational curriculum due to substantial mismatch between his cognitive/academic readiness and the level of instruction. Do not insist on the fact that English is not his native language – this is a weak argument from the legal prospective.
  • Your son needs an intensive and extensive remediation in school before his placement into age-appropriate mainstream in order to avoid inevitable Cumulative Cognitive Deficit and resulting emotional and behavioral issues on top of academic problems.

Your strategy should be to prove that the denial of the most intensive remediation available at school to your son, in effect, deprives your child of free and appropriate public education he is entitled to; this violates the spirit of IDEA as well as your son's civil rights.

Prepare your case from clinical, educational and legal prospective: have all evaluations, expert witness letters, published articles, testimonies from other parents, etc. If the school still resists, request an impartial hearing and come to the meeting well prepared with a legal representative at your side. Make your school feel responsible for the disaster they are going to create due to their incompetence with the IA children, the desire to cut costs at the expense of a needy child and for being in direct violation of the spirit of IDEA which they must follow.
Boris Gindis, Ph.D.


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