AAP: Council on Foster Care, Adoption and Kinship Care Presentation

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Boston MA- First conference of the Fall 2011 season:

October 17, 2011: Got to co-present with my favorite pediatrician (Alla Gordina, MD, FAAP) an interesting clinical case in front of American Academy Of Pediatrics: Council on Foster Care, Adoption and Kinship Care. Granted my part was via phone and connection wasn’t great but it so nice to see medical professionals being interested in ancillary professionals’ perspective on issues of internationally adopted children.

Presentation Title: A Case of Isolated Social Pragmatic Language Deficits in an Internationally Adopted Child

Presentation Highlights:

Language based deficits may affect internationally adopted children many years post adoption

Even children adopted at very young ages can present with subtle BUT significant delays in select areas of functioning (see below)

One such delay may be in the area of social pragmatic functioning  or the use of language

Select examples of social pragmatic deficits include:

  • Impaired ability to appropriately interpret social situations, events and contexts
  • Impaired ability to create and convey messages to different audiences (adults vs. children)
  • Impaired ability to interpret facial expressions, body language and gestures
  • Difficulty labeling and identifying basic emotions of self and others
  • Poor or absent perspective taking (understanding thoughts and feelings of others)
  • Inappropriate initiation of social interactions (e.g., not knowing how to start a conversation or appropriately interrupt a game)
  • Comprehension of age-level abstract and inferential information (stories, sarcasm, figurative language, etc)
  • Missing “the big picture” (integrating ideas into a whole, synthesizing and summarizing information)
  • Poor connection and relatedness to peers

Implications for Professionals:

Very easy to misdiagnose a child with social pragmatic deficits as someone with psychiatric disturbances (e.g., ADHD or Autism) without multidisciplinary differential diagnosis

“Low risk referrals” do carry a significant risk of deprivation-related issues, which can surface years after adoption

Internationally adopted children with behavioral, listening, sensory, and any unusual deficits need a differential  diagnosis (including assessment of language abilities before a conclusive diagnosis is made)

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