Imagine a world in which you have no language. Can you? Perhaps the adult who becomes aphasic could experience this… perhaps someone like my father who suffered from Alzheimer’s disease experienced this – but I think that all children regardless of where they are from come into the world as blank slates, computers without any language installed. All of use start out in life without any language at all.
In an internationally adopted child it is my impression from reading about those who live in orphanages this blank slate may actually continue into their new homes. In her book, Silent Tears: A Journey of Hope by Kay Bratt this very phenomenon is described. Ms. Kay lived in China and describes her work in a children’s orphanage and the lives of the children there. She describes in her diary the daily experiences that she witnessed, the ways in which she was really able to help the children and her own journey of adopting a child internationally. The impact of the environment that she describes undoubtedly contributes to the blank slate – the child devoid of any language as the result of a lack of stimulation. It is a wonderful book to read and gives a very interesting perspective of children who come with that life experience in hand.
Sharon Glennen, a well known authority in the field of international adoption is a speech-language pathologist and describes in an article within the book Adoption Parenting: Creating a Toolbox, Building Connections which is edited by Jean MacLeod and Sheena Macrae, PhD some of the developmental issues that may influence the development of language in this group of children. Her articles are numerous on the subject and searching for additional articles by her may be beneficial if you treat an adopted child in your practice. As well, this particular text, dealing with developmental issues from Birth through Pre Adolescence, is a wonderful resource for parents as well and covers other aspects of adoption.
Ms. Glennen’s work speaks to me as the parent of an adoptive child; although his adoption was domestic. Had I known more about the history of my now fifteen year old son at the point that we met his biological mother it would have been so helpful. I think that I would have been proactive and done a bit more research in terms of the specialized needs with which he came to his adoptive father and I. After the fact, I found myself delving into literature and consulting with specialists in the areas of difficulty with which he presents. I still am with the knowledge that children, even teenagers are works in process and have brains that are still in the process of development. It is this experience that facilitated this review of literature and reading about other experiences of adoptive parents. The day that we finalized his adoption we met my son’s biological mother. The one thing that she did share with us was that we would need to be strong as disciplinarians. I now realize that she was alluding to the fact that her previous ten or eleven children (four in her custody) had issues in terms of behavior management. Maybe I did not want to face this, or was in denial about this really happening to me. Regardless, it moves me to think that we as professionals owe it to ourselves and our clients, patients, students and their families to be educated in areas of development of adopted children.
Ms. Glennen notes that non-verbal social interactions may be less affected by the orphanage environment as opposed to spoken language. She encourages parents of children less than twenty four months to focus on these skills and that unlike non-adopted children, at age thirty months some true words are just beginning to emerge. Imagine being in a preschool or social group as an internationally adopted child attempting to interact with your peers. How frustrating that must be!
Adoptive parents often compare their children to those who are not so this seems incredible important to point out to them. Ms. Glennen goes on to state that a child who is not talking by thirty months may also have additional factors that influence the development of language in this particular group of children. So, perhaps parents need to be advised to seek the guidance of other professionals, depending on the particular situation with which they are faced.
Older children are at a disadvantage. They have to catch up to their peers, having had less exposure to the language of their new homes. Glennen describes that these are children who may have “Limited English Proficiency”. This will impact on their development of academic skills. These are the children who may have actually started to learn one language – but then this stopped because they moved away from their initial culture and perhaps into the home of an adoptive family with no fluency in the “language of origin”. If I were seeing a child with this background, I would advise the adoptive parent to discuss this at the onset of the school year with the teachers who will be working with their children. Perhaps at the outset, supports can be put into place to help these students as a group
As an adoptive parent I discovered that there are support groups for adoptive parents. One such group in my New York area is called the Adoptive Parents Committee. Others in a group such as this can share experiences regarding how they have handled educational needs of their children. On a personal note, I cannot begin to share with all of you how helpful this organization has been over the years.
I could probably go on, but I believe that I have given my readers and colleagues some food for thought which may be of benefit to others. If this blog is a help to at least one of you, it will have been worth the time and energy put forth in its preparation.
Sixteen years ago when I was trying to locate a woman who wanted to plan for the placement of her child in the hands of adoptive parents, “birth parent” was used to refer to the parent who gave birth to the adopted child. With the increased variety of methods by which families can be created, I guess the term “biological parent” came into vogue. Adoption is only one way to create a family, after all.
What Do Biological Parents Do???: Many biological parents who have to place their child in the hands of adoptive parents do so with significant personal sadness. The circumstances that brought them to the point of having to do so is often quite unfortunate, leaving a personal scar that may never heal. Biological parents may have to PLAN an adoption, because they love their child and want the best for them, realizing that they cannot care for them. It is not necessarily, as i have heard many state, that the child involved was “given away”. This term in actuality is offensive to many in the adoption community.
Baggage Carried: I do not think that as a group people who adopt necessarily consider the developmental differences to which these childern may be prone. Impoverished living conditions, poverty, abuse or genetically carried predispositions may all be contributing factors that are unknown to a prospective adoptive parent and child. In a professional role, there is a responsibility to both be aware of and appreciate this fact. I also believe that it is the role for every professional who touches the life of an adopted child to become an educator for both the adoptee and adoptive parent in terms of the differences that are present. Teaching the adoptee and the adoptive parent how to deal with the problems that may be present, so that functioning is at the highest possible level is extremely important. Parents need to be empowered to locate professionals who are adoption savvy – aware of the issues. As well, the possibility of screening a child who was adopted in
Birthdays: From their perspective, the adopted child will always understand that there is a person or people who chose to not care for them after they were born. Children who walk into your office will carry throughout their lives a feeling of having been rejected, on some level. Birthdays will always represent a day of loss for them. They may be exciting, but sad as well. Sometimes adopted children withdraw from their adoptive family on that day, not wanting to confront this aspect of their lives. Instead, they may bury their head into a solitary activity, avoiding others.
Environment: Children who are adopted may come from homes that are void of adequate nutrition. Biological parents of adoptees who choose not to raise them may do so because of poor financial circumstances. They may have need for the money that the legal process invovled in the actual adoption process may be a motivating factor for them to go this route.
Child trafficking: This is something well documented in China. The following link provides a detailed definition of this term and after reading this, one can come to appreciate how trafficking can influence a person: www.unicef.org/southafrica/SAF_pressrelease_notetrafficking.pdf The emotional toll that this takes on a human being cannot be understated. The article that I reference here gives a very real picture of the very issue.
Orphanages: If a child was in one internationally or domestically prior to placement there may be factors that cause delays in the development of communication skills, nutrition and overall growth. Sharon Glennen, PhD., CCC/SLP has documented this in her articles that are readily available online. In her article “Orphanage Care and Language” she talks of her own experience in adopting a child from Russia. Her travels to various orphanages and observations made during her visits are documented. Amongst the red flags that she notes are a lack of environmental stimulation from adults, delays in language development, low birth weight, limited play opportunities. Some children are left drinking from bottles or may not be assisted in learning how to eat with utensils. One can surmise that the need for a multidisciplinary team evaluation and treatment approach in working with these children is essential to help them reach typical developmental milestones.
In closing, I quote Susan Soon-Keum“ADOPTION is bittersweet,” said Susan Soon-Keum Cox, vice president for public policy and external affairs at Holt International, a Christian adoption agency based in Eugene, Ore., with an extensive program in China. She states that “The process connects birth parents, child and adoptive parents in an unequal relationship in which each party has different needs and different leverage. It begins in loss”. www.cityrooms.blogs.nytimes.com: *“For Adoptive Parents, Questions without Answers” We all need to be sensitive when we deal with all of these parties. Families where there is an “open adoption”, where the adoptive parents and child have a relationship especially in domestic ones, where we as professionals have a possibility of gaining more information. In some cases it will not be and you will have no history at all….there will be gaps in our knowledge of that with which we deal. This is an unfortunate reality with which we all must sadly deal.
I have been hearing a number of people within the world of social networking talking about this new code and wondering why??? why is this even being presented now. What will be the impact of having a new code like this on those with this illness?. These are questions that have been posed by a number of professionals. Parents reading this post, I wonder what you think.. It would be interesting to hear your thoughts on this. Maybe it would make you feel better if this code is in place for your child. I am actually glad that it is being listed. I also became aware of an organization that might help someone who actually does wander and perhaps this would be a helpful resource for readers.
Each week thousands of people connect with LifePROTEKT to find out the latest information on wandering prevention, fall detection and location based GPS products. Some just visit to read the posts that are relevant to the communities we represent, and others look at the various products we offer in the personal location based GPS market as shown in our comparison grid.
Over the past year, it has been our pleasure to have donated hundreds of devices to families in need for their at-risk loved ones that may be prone to wandering. We have also donated our safety products to various healthcare organizations, law enforcement agencies, and charitable foundations including Autism Speaks, TacaNOW, Autism Society of America, Mason Allen Medlam Foundation and the National Autism Association to name a few. That does not include the individual personal families we have helped to secure their loved ones in order to rest a little easier at night.
Each month we also run a contest through the Autism Women’s Network which gives one family in need the opportunity to win a personal location device which includes a one year free subscription to protect their loved one with autism. If interested, you can enter your story here: http://www.lifeprotekt.com/autism-womens-network-lifeprotekt-gps-give-away/
Along with these achievements we wanted to share some of the very relevent information provided by LifePROTEKT’s strategic partners. Over the next few months, major enhancements and improvements will be released on LifePROTEKT’s “Products That Protect” offerings. You can check them out here: http://www.lifeprotekt.com/category/products-that-protect/
The advancements of the new products being launched will consist of things like two way calling, 30 day battery life, child predator alerts, bread crumbing, destination alerts, one-click geofencing, SOS Alert, temperature alerts, much more significant cell coverage for increased and faster accuracy in location and the list goes on. This does not even include any software advancements being made on these products. Now add the better cell coverage provided by the carriers, extended battery life and multiple choice offerings of which carrier works best in your area, and the solutions that www.locationbasedgps.com provides, will assist many loved ones being brought back safely to their families or caregivers. They may even prevent them from wandering off in the first place.
LET’S GO ONE STEP FURTHER. Since LifePROTEKT understands the special needs communities we can recommend the best solution that fits the needs of the individuals that may be at-risk. Our products are the best solutions that are in the personal GPS industry as we work very closely with manufacturers such as Lok8u, Securatrac, AmberAlertGPS, Aerotel, Laipac, Pocketinder, Enfora and others. We take into consideration the sensory issues of an autistic child, the technical ability of the caretaker using smartphone or text messaging technology, we even determine coverage zones prior to providing the right solution that fits the needs of the family. For example, AT&T may not have the same coverage in your area as T-Mobile hence we predetermine the best solution to fit the needs of the family. (Please note that this technology relies on the triangulation of both cell phone and GPS technology).
LifePROTEKT is the ONLY company that offers various solutions that fit the needs of the special needs family and we are always looking at for the best scenario for parents and caregivers.
One More Thing We Offer. For every sale that is put through LifePROTEKT a portion of the proceeds is donated back to the autism and Alzheimer’s community. We do care about the communities we represent and make this pledge to help in spreading the awareness of at-risk individuals that may wander.
Finally. We are working very closely with healthcare organizations to help reduce the costs of these devices by covering them through various healthcare insurance programs. We have been lobbying for Center of Disease Control’s ICD-9 coverage to help more families where a wandering loved one may be a concern. CDC’s ICD-9 would provide insurance reimbursement for LifePROTEKT devices. This would be similar to the way a doctor would prescribe a glucometer for a diabetic. In this case, the doctor would prescribe a wandering prevention device for an at-risk individual to be covered by the family healthcare provider.
We ask you to share our website with others and help us promote solutions that have the potential to save many lives as we provide a small piece of technology that gives a great peace of mind!
We also request your help the Mason Medlam Foundation by signing the petition for Mason Alert. This will help so many families that have special needs individuals potentially save their loved ones from the same situation that had happened to Mason Medlam some short weeks ago. May God bless the Medlam family for their compassion and committment to preventing another tragedy from occurring due to wandering.
Sign and pass along the petition here: http://www.lifeprotekt.com/a-personal-request-from-sheila-and-kenneth-medlam/
LifePROTEKT uses the latest Location Based GPS devices and wandering prevention technologies to help find and care for those that can easily get lost or want to live independent lives.
Has Therapy Started?
This is something to confirm right now. You probably assume that your child’s individualized educational plan or invidualized education planis at school. Maybe not. Let me be clear – i am not trying to put anybody down – but sometimes there gets to be so much paperwork that these and other important documents can get misplaced. If you did not have a chance to bring it down in person; as i discussed last month, please check. Know that it may take a month to six weeks, depending on the school, to actually start servicing your child on a regular basis because of the fact that schedules take a little bit of time to get put together. New children’s names flow into the hands of therapists all year long.
Is Your Child’s Teacher Informed?
Just because an IEP or an IFSP has been received does not mean that your teacher knows about it. If you can set up an individual meeting with your teacher now – that would be of tremendous help to BOTH the teacher and your child. Knowledge is power – so if your teacher understands the type of problem that your child has, he or she will be more likely to be able to work with you. For example, if she or he needs a hearing aid – or another type of amplification system to use in the classroom at school then they can check that it is there in the morning.
Informational Hand Outs Related to Disabilities:
These are available and you should come with them to a meeting that you have with your teacher – at a parent-teacher conference. Try and get some that are specific to your child. Provide them for and discuss your individual situation with your child’s teacher.
ASHA.org (amerrican speech-language hearing association
AOTA.org(american occupational therapy association)
APTA.org(american physical therapy association)
UCP.org(united cerebral palsy)
chadd.org (children and adults with add/adhd)
These are a few organizations that may be able to help you locate information about your particular child’s disability. They may actually have age appropriate material so that you can start a dialogue with your child about their special needs and then have them become advocates for what they need at school! These organizations may have support groups for families too. Don’t forget your pediatrician, the school nurse, the special education supervisor and the therapist who treats your child at school.
We all hope for happy and healthy children. When there is a glitch…when a parent has the unfortunate situation of being told that their child will need help in the very early years, when neuroplasticity is at a peak, emotions may rage. Cuts to the early intervention program, in many areas of the country have heightened anxiety about the future for disabled children, those receiving services through the early intervention program or those receiving services elsewhere. Some parents have expressed reticence about enrolling their child in a specialized education program, or having professionals in their home to offer services to their child. That feeling is respected. Acceptance of a developmental delay or other type of handicapping condition may take a while to set in. That said – I have a few suggestions.
I have realized that parents whose children receive early intervention services or those who would like their children considered for program participation are genuinely unsure of the process or they are not educated about what might qualify their child for services in a particular area. Others are unaware of what they would expect to see in terms of skill development in a variety of areas. That is unfortunate. Parents need guidance and there are resources available for you. Especially of concern is that you learn about when typically developing children acquire specific milestones like crawling, sitting, standing, speaking, eating solid food, drinking from a cup, assisting with dressing. There are many more that could be mentioned. Below is information that may be helpful:
DVD: A Life to Love: Preventing Accidental Injury to Our Most Precious Resource-available in English, Spanish, Chinese Creole, Arabic and Russian (produced by the NYC Administration for Children’s Services @ 150 William Street New York, NY 10038. NYC residents can call 311).
Clinical Practice Guidelines Quick Reference Guidelines for Parents and Professionals are available through the NY State Department of Health, Early Intervention Program, Corning Tower Building, Room 208, Albany, NY 12237-0618 These are available free of charge at http://email@example.com and relate to a variety of developmental areas such as vision, communication, hearing, motor function.
Zero to Three www.zerotothree.org
October 4th, 2011 | Author: Rebecca Alva
Performing Evaluations In Early Intervention is Coming Back to NYC!Location: Pearl Studios NYC, 519 Eighth Avenue (btw 35th & 36th), 12th Fl. (212) 904-1850
**********Early Bird Price of $227. applies for the September and October Dates!!**********
Look at The Trainings and Testimonial Tabs For Full Details
October 2nd, 2011 | Author: Rebecca Alva
Held my first EI Training in Commack, NY (LI) today. Here is what two attendees had to say:The course was very helpful in learning how to properly perform and write a complete Early Intervention Evaluation.
Erika Witt, Speech-Language Pathologist
Very informative, useful information.
September 30th, 2011 | Author: Rebecca Alva
An SLP Provider who has taken my trainings sent me the following e-mail with the subject line above, “I am writing up an eval on a bilingual baby that I saw with a translator….. I have your binder at my side…it is an invaluable resource right now.l’shanah tovah wherever you are today!
Robin Sue Kahn M.S., CCC/SLP
September 25th, 2011 | Author: Rebecca Alva
Here is what two providers had to say about yesterday’s training:Rebecca Alva tailored this course to the immediate needs of Early Intervention Evaluators. This information is going to be so helpful when writing and performing evaluators. Many of the resources provided will help raise the quality of EI evaluations that are performed.
Karen M. Mackin, Speech-Language Pathologist
This course will really be helpful to me as I write my evals. Now I know exactly what the Evaluation Standards Unit wants as far as Informed Clinical Opinion…
September 10th, 2011 | Author: Rebecca Alva
Performing Evaluations In Early InterventionCOURSE DESCRIPTION
Infants and toddlers from birth through age two, who live in New York City and who have a diagnosed physical or mental condition that has a high probability of resulting in a developmental delay, or who are suspected of having a developmental delay or disability are entitled to a developmental screening or a comprehensive evaluation to determine eligibility for additional early intervention services. Delays may be in one or more of the following areas of development: cognitive, physical, communication, social/emotional, and/or adaptive. Children at risk of a disability are eligible for initial screening, and will receive periodic screenings through the New York City Infant Child Health Assessment Program.
Providers are faced with increasing amounts of confusion and frustration in performing evaluations in the Early Intervention Program. EI providers will understand and learn how to properly incorporate several sources of information and improve the quality of their evaluations reports.
CONTINUING EDUCATION CREDITS
Failure to sign-in or out will result in forfeiture of credit for the entire course. No exceptions will be made. Partial credit is not available.
DATES & LOCATIONS
New York City
REGISTRATION & FEES
*****Early Bird Price of $227 applies for the September and October Dates!!!*****
Registration Fee: $257
ALL PAYMENTS MUST BE PAID IN FULL PRIOR TO ATTENDANCE
Note: The fee includes materials/handouts and light refreshments.
CONFIRMATIONS & CANCELLATIONS
Cancellation Policy (Organization): Evaluations Standards Training, LLC reserves the right to cancel or reschedule any course/workshop/training due to insufficient registration or extenuating circumstances. A full refund will be provided to the participants unless they choose a credit towards a future training. If the refund is requested, it will be in the same format of payment either by check or credit card.
Cancellation Policy (Participant): A refund less a $50.00 administration fee will be provided upon receipt of written request. Refund requests must be received by mail (postmarked) or e-mail 8 days or more prior to the date of the training. There is no refund for cancellations received 7 days or less prior to the date of training; however, a credit will be issued toward a future training.
On February 13, 2011 Providers attended the 2nd EI Training on Performing Evaluations In Early Intervention. Here is what one Provider had to say: This training truly was a training like no other. We were provided with tons of functional information that I intend to use ASAP! I now am more clear on the regulations put forth by Early Intervention Department of Health.
Alisha Price, SLP
I was asked by Catherine J. Crowley, CCC-SLP, J.D., Ph.D., ASHA Fellow and Board Recognized Specialist in Child Language, to teach her Assessment and Evaluation class on Thursday, February 24th at Teachers College, Columbia University. My lecture for the students was on the Standards and Procedures for Evaluations & Eligibility Requirements Under the Early Intervention Program. It was great sharing my knowledge with the students!
Here is what two Providers had to say about the EI Training:Amazing! This workshop was very helpful & informative. I received a lot of documents that will help me when writing evaluations. The information received will also help me to evaluate myself in how I approach evaluations. I learned a lot regarding the laws and regulations that determine eligibility for Early Intervention. I am now able to provide support for any recommendations I make in future evaluations. Jeanel Burgess-Belfon, Speech-Language Pathologist
It was very informative and it was nice to get paper copies of all the materials. Rebecca was very knowledgeable and an engaging speaker. I loved learning about the laws that are in place and I think that this will help me to be a better report/eval writer in general. Maria Niemiec, Special Educator
Copyright © 2011 Rebecca Alva, M.A. CCC-SLP. All Rights Reserved.
PARENTS AS PARTNERSThe United New York Early Intervention Providers and Parents as Partners’ coalition formed on April 15, 2010 to represent the needs of independent contractors, parents, small agencies, and children, THOSE CHILDREN IN NEED OF EARLY INTERVENTION SERVICES, as they move through the New York State Bureau of Early Intervention. (See our numerous publications at http://unitednyeiproviders.weebly.com/publications.html)We are composed of Early Intervention Independent Contractors from each discipline (Speech, Physical Therapy, Occupational Therapy, ABA Teachers, Special Educators, Nutritionists, Social Workers, Psychologists, Vision Therapists), small agency employees, parents and caregivers, and other professionals (attorneys, physicians, compensation analysts) who share their concern for the current financial condition of NYS and its impact on NYS Early Intervention. Currently, we have members throughout New York State, from Montauk Point to Niagara Falls including the five boroughs of the City of New Yorkand are increasing membership exponentially daily. At present, we have nearly 1500 members inclusive of our Professional Advisory Board and Executive Committees. Our primary goals are:a. Ensure that children, ALL children, from ALL religious, cultural, and socio-economic groups, of NYS Early Intervention are prioritized
b. Ensure that the children of NYS Early Intervention receive not only individualized services but frequency and duration
of services that are meaningful in relation to their delay or disability
c. Ensure that ONLY those children who are ELIGIBLE to receive services are those that do receive services
d. Improve communications amongst the stakeholders of New York State Early Intervention
e. Improve transparency of the Bureau of Early Intervention statewide
f. Encourage participation in the Statewide Early Intervention Coordinating Council and the Local Early Intervention Coordinating Councils
g. Enable collegial sharing amongst professionals
h. Enable support amongst family and caregivers
i. Develop meaningful relationships with our governmental representatives and New York State Legislators
j. Encourage Lobby Day Involvement of all members: Parents and Professionals
k. Enhance communication throughout New York State between Agencies, Municipalities, and Independent Contractors
l. Preserve and protect NYS Early Intervention so that it is maintained as the Premier State in NYS Early Intervention
In this last year, we are pleased to have initiated the Weprin Bill A00705 and the Avella Bill S4219. We are pleased to have membership of over 1000 members. We are pleased to have initiated two active list serves to enable sharing in addition to a Twitter Account, FACEBOOK page, and a LINKED IN page. We are pleased to have brought together a strong alliance of committed professionals, original thinkers, who truly care about NYS Early Intervention, who truly care about the families and children that they provide services to, and who truly care about the future of the State of New York and its children. We are pleased to do this with no dues and no membership fees of any kind. No Paid Lobbyists or Special Interests are engaged in our initiatives. UNYEIP is composed of volunteers who truly care about our children and our future.
To join the United New York Early Intervention Providers, providers may complete the registration form below., parents will find their registration form on the following Parent page.
We look forward to hearing from you.
Leslie Grubler MA, CCC-SLP, TSHH
Founding Director, UNYEIP
United New York Early Intervention Providers (UNYEIP)
FACEBOOK: United New York Early Intervention Providers
PH: (718) 213 5900
CELL: 917 355 5060
FAX (718) 224 0103
To Become a Member of the
United New York Early Intervention Providers’ Coalition,
Kindly complete the form below: