Sensory Processing Disorders and Your Child: Part I–Description

This is a Part I in a three part series on sensory processing disorders. On Wednesday, I will address why children develop these disorders and on Friday, you, as a parent, can learn more about what you can do for your child.

flyingMany children adopted internationally have what are known as Sensory Processing Disorders (SPDs). These children have problems processing and appropriately responding to stimuli, such as touch and noise. The SPDs can affect children’s behavior and emotions and may impact their ability to learn and socially function. SPDs are found in 5-10% of non-disabled children and in 40 to 88 % of children with disabilities. It is also more prevalent in children with ADHD.

There are different types of SPDs. Some children overreact to stimuli that most others do not find annoying. These are the kids who cannot stand tags in their clothes or being lightly touched; others may have a “melt-down” if their nails are trimmed or their teeth brushed. If the children have auditory processing problems, they may over react to the vacuum cleaner or other “normal” noises. Others with auditory processing problems can hear just fine but can have difficulty understanding what is being said. These are children who are told, “You are not paying attention.” Continue reading

Nutrition and the Child from China: Part II

child-smiling-in-schoolOverall, children from China do very well. In one study in looking at children adopted into Canada from China,in which the children on average were 13 months old when they arrived home, they were doing as well as other children in Canada at three years old.(Incidentally, these children arrived home about 10/11 years ago, when orphan conditions were not as good as they are today.) The children’s receptive language skills—even at a very young age—were just as good as other children. The good news is that children’s receptive language skills—which is the ability to understand what others are saying and respond—are related to positive cognitive and social development. Also, by the time the children were about three years old, they had caught up with their peers in their ability to talk, called expressive language skills [1].

So how do children’s language skills relate to nutrition? Children’s ability to understand language is related to the child’s height-to weight ratio as well as the child’s head circumference.A lack of stimulation in the child’s early years in an orphanage can have an impact on physical growth. That means that your child’s growth can be delayed because of lack of stimulation and not just lack of nutrition. The factor that related most to mental development and language skills was the child’s height.In the study of children adopted into Canada, the children from China did have growth spurts, but they stayed a bit shorter than other children their age. The weight of the child seems to have had less impact; in this same study the children’s weight upon arrival home did not indicate a child’s cognitive function at 11 years of age. Continue reading

Nutrition and the Internationally Adopted Child

childeating This is the first in a series on nutrition and the adopted child.

There has been a growing interest in the nutritional needs of adopted children. There is a webinar  recorded through Adoption Learning Partners and the Spoon Foundation presented by Dr. Dana Johnson called “Food for Thought.”  You can listen to this webinar for a cost of only $15. You will want to listen to this broadcast a few times over, as there is much information packed into one hour.

What you should know regarding your child’s nutritional needs:

  • Typical deficiencies can vary based on child’s country of origin.
  • Deficiencies can cause growth and cognitive delays.
  • While children can “catch up,” the long term effects of early nutritional deficiencies are not clear.
  • Children usually should be tested to determine if they are deficient in some key nutrients.
  • Children upon arrival home often lack iron storage but will not be anemic. However, once they are home and have a large growth spurt, they can become very anemic (From webinar, “Food for Thought.”)

Food is more than just way of providing nutrients. Food is also a way to bond with your child and offer him comfort and familiarity. Continue reading