Sensory processing in internationally adopted, post-institutionalized children

J Child Psychol Psychiatry. 2010 Oct;51(10):1105-14. doi: 10.1111/j.1469-7610.2010.02255.x. Epub 2010 Aug 25.


Background/methods: Sensory processing capacities of 8-12-year-old internationally adopted (IA) children who experienced prolonged institutional care (> 12 months with 75% of pre-adoption lives in institutional care) prior to adoption into family environments (PI) were compared to a group of IA children who were adopted early (< 8 months) predominantly from foster care with little or no institutional experience (EA/FC) and another group of non-adopted (NA) children raised by their birth parents in the United States. All children had estimated IQs within the normal range and did not evidence major neurodevelopmental disorders (e.g., cerebral palsy, fetal alcohol syndrome, Down's syndrome). Sensory processing was evaluated with a commonly used parent-report measure and a laboratory assessment.

Results: Children who had experienced prolonged institutionalization showed higher levels of reactivity to sensation and displayed both more aversion and approach to sensory stimuli than the other groups. The comparison groups (EA/FC & NA) did not differ on any of the sensory processing measures.

Conclusions: These results suggest that early institutional rearing which typically involves both sensory and social deprivation is associated with problems in sensory modulation capacities.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adoption / psychology*
  • Age Factors
  • Child
  • Child Development*
  • Child, Institutionalized / psychology*
  • Family / psychology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Intelligence
  • International Cooperation*
  • Male
  • Parents / psychology
  • Sensation*
  • Social Environment
  • Time Factors
  • United States