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Social-Emotional Development

in Orphan Children
Maria Soubbotina
EDPS 650

 Introduction
 Role of Attachment theory, Family
Socialization, and Neurodevelopmental
 Developmental outcomes in institutions
 Post-adoptions outcomes
 Concluding remarks

 Worldwide over 7 million children are in institutional care http://www.sos-
 In Canada 67,000 children were in out-of-home care in 2007 (Mulcahy
and Trocmé, 2010).
 Approximately 2000 international adoptions in Canada annually
(Statistics Canada)
 “lack or loss of species typical parental stimulation is among the
most potent stressors early in life” (Levine, 1995)
 Attachment theory, familial socialization & neurodevelopmental
perspective predict poor outcomes
 What are the social emotional outcomes? Are outcomes malleable?

Attachment Theory
 Bond between child/caregiver has evolutionary purpose
 Depends upon warmth and consistency of caregiver
 Promotes sense of security, which in turn promotes exploration
 Critical period 0-3 yrs
 Develop Internal Working Model which guides future relationships
(Zeanah et al, 2011)
Familial Socialization
 Genetics and environment influence social-emotional development;
environment makes larger contribution in early years
 Promotes development of attachment
 Development of emotional regulation
 Empathy and emotion recognition
 Problem solving in social situations
 Reciprocal behavior
 Development of pro-social behavior
 Development of cognitive abilities (language, memory, EF etc)

(Gauvain & Perez, 2007; Grusec, 2011; Morris et al, 2007)
Neurological perspective
 Caregiver behavior and attachment modulate stress response
 Social neglect associated with abnormal cortical regulation
 Lower threshold for HPA axis activation
 Affect amygdala and hippocampus development
 Stress hormones impede prefrontal cortex development
 Consequences for emotion regulation, attention and memory
 Early care provides sensory experience, which promotes dendritic

(Loman & Gunnar, 2010; Nelson et al, 2013)

Institutionalized children
 Global delays in intellectual, motor, and social-emotional functioning
(Morrison et al, 1995)
 Atypical attachment (Chilsom et al, 1995; Zeanah et al, 2005)
 Attachment predicts problem behavior (Tores et al, 2012)
 Less interaction, more aggression & negative affect (Vorria et al, 2003)
 Poor social skills, more problems with peers & lower social status
(Palazios et al, 2013)
 Impaired emotion recognition (Camras et al, 2006) & ToM (Dobrova-Krol et al, 2010)
 Lower grey and white matter volumes (Sheridan et al, 2012)
 Frontal lobe activation asymmetry (McLaughlin et al 2011)
 Larger limbic structures & related emotion dysregulation (Tottenhom, 2012)
 Altered face recognition circuit (Parker et al, 2005)
Adopted children
 Evidence of catching up across all areas (VanIJzendoorn et al, 2006; VanLonden,
 Able to form attachment; higher proportion of insecure (Barcons et al, 2014;
Escobar et al, 2014)
 Typical emotional understanding, moderated by emotional
availability (Garvin et al, 2012; Tarullo et al, )
 Social competence and social status similar to typical (Palacios et al, 2013)
 Peer acceptance and victimization moderated by age of adoption
(Pitula et al, 2014)
 Similar or higher rates of behavioral problems, moderated by
attachment & age at adoption (Escobar et al, 2014; Gunnar et al, 2007)

 Evidence of resilience despite early adversity
 Benefit of adoption
 Caregiver factors influence outcomes (Barone, 2012; Garvin et al, 2012)
 Caregiver behavior can be enhanced (Hoksbergen, 1997)
 Outcomes vary by age of adoption and country of origin (differences
in institution settings?) (Barcons et al, 2012; Camras et al, 2006; Gunnar et el, 2007)
 Changes in institutional settings improve outcomes: caregiver/child
ratio, caregiver consistency, integrated age group, communication
and responsiveness (Berument 2013; McCall et al 2013).
 More research needed on specific weaknesses and interventions
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