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Language development of internationally adopted children: Adverse early experiences outweigh the age of acquisition effect
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2015 (English)In: Journal of Communication Disorders, ISSN 0021-9924, E-ISSN 1873-7994, Vol. 57, no SI, 66-80 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

We compared English language and cognitive skills between internationally adopted children (IA; mean age at adoption=2.24, SD=1.8) and their non-adopted peers from the US reared in biological families (BF) at two time points. We also examined the relationships between outcome measures and age at initial institutionalization, length of institutionalization, and age at adoption. On measures of general language, early literacy, and non-verbal IQ, the IA group performed significantly below their age-peers reared in biological families at both time points, but the group differences disappeared on receptive vocabulary and kindergarten concept knowledge at the second time point. Furthermore, the majority of children reached normative age expectations between 1 and 2 years post-adoption on all standardized measures. Although the age at adoption, age of institutionalization, length of institutionalization, and time in the adoptive family all demonstrated significant correlations with one or more outcome measures, the negative relationship between length of institutionalization and child outcomes remained most robust after controlling for the other variables. Results point to much flexibility and resilience in children's capacity for language acquisition as well as the potential primacy of length of institutionalization in explaining individual variation in IA children's outcomes.

LEARNING OUTCOMES: (1) Readers will be able to understand the importance of pre-adoption environment on language and early literacy development in internationally adopted children. (2) Readers will be able to compare the strength of the association between the length of institutionalization and language outcomes with the strength of the association between the latter and the age at adoption. (3) Readers will be able to understand that internationally adopted children are able to reach age expectations on expressive and receptive language measures despite adverse early experiences and a replacement of their first language with an adoptive language.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2015. Vol. 57, no SI, 66-80 p.
Keyword [en]
International adoptees; Early institutionalization; Early adversity; Critical period
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Research subject
Child and Youth Psychiatry
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-263286DOI: 10.1016/j.jcomdis.2015.08.003ISI: 000363093300006PubMedID: 26385197OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-263286DiVA: diva2:857802
Available from: 2015-09-30 Created: 2015-09-30 Last updated: 2016-02-17

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Ruchkin, Vladislav
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Child and Adolescent Psychiatry
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