Practically all adopted children go through a medical examination
upon arrival for possible medical rehabilitation or prevention.
Unfortunately, psycho-educational and speech/language assessments
are the exception rather than the rule. Too often, school
districts assume a "wait-and-see" attitude rejecting
a request for evaluation "until the child learns more
English". In many cases, however, we just cannot afford
to lose time.
A timely psycho-educational evaluation leads
to a proper school placement, which is extremely
important for your child's overall adjustment, emotional
well-being, and future educational progress. A psycho-educational
assessment is a must if there is a "red flag"
in your child's medical records or educational history,
- "Delay in language and psychological
- "Child did not start school at age
- "Child was retained in elementary
- "Child was a student in a special
- "Child received remedial services
in school in Russia", etc.
There is no "one-size-fits-all"
recommendation regarding grade placement, specific educational
program, remediation, and support services:
the decision should always be highly individualized
and based on a thorough consideration of many factors.
There is a tendency to
place newly-arrived school-age internationally-adopted children
in a grade according to their age. It is the usual practice
for children from immigrant families in the USA. However,
it may not be appropriate for many adopted children. Your
pediatrician, who, as a rule, is not familiar with the specifics
of the school system, may recommend age-appropriate placement,
based on the child's general health. However, age (which
guides your school district) and physical soundness (which
guides your pediatrician) are only two of many factors to
be considered. What about language development, social skills,
self-regulation, mastery of age-appropriate cognitive skills,
ability and willingness to participate in shared/joint activity?
"Aacademic readiness" in relation to an adopted
child must be thoroughly examined and properly understood.
Remember, in addition to academic pressures in an "age-based"
classroom, your child will go through general adjustment
and language acquisition, possibly accompanied by health
and neurological problems.
language of the assessment is the critical issue.
An evaluation in the native language should be done as soon
as possible after arrival, before the child's native language
gets weakened and eventually extinguished. For all children
younger than 7 this ought to be done within the first several
weeks. For those who are literate in their native language
(age 7 to 10+) the time frame is the first three months.
One of the most shocking discoveries made with internationally
adopted children was the swiftness with which they lose
their mother tongue.
An assessment, done in
a child's native language, has at times unwavering importance:
it's the basis for establishing your child's eligibility
for any remedial services. If no evaluation in the native
language by a bilingual professional is done within the
first three months, it will be impossible to have an evaluation
until the English language dominance and level of proficiency
are established. And until that time it will be very difficult
to prove a genuine need for a remedial help if your child
experiences learning difficulties.