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Adoptees in the Classroom: Understanding Unique Needs

As parents of adoptees or children who have experienced early trauma, we know that school is often difficult for our kids. Understanding why this is the case and effectively communicating with teachers and school staff can feel like a daunting task! We are thrown into the role of advocacy for a problem we struggle to articulate. The passion that created A Child’s Song came from my own worries that school staff did not understand my daughter’s need for safety and security at school and the assumption that her behavior was willful rather than a symptom of fear. I desperately wanted them to see the scared little girl that I saw who just wanted to be feel accepted and competent but instead displayed difficult behaviors.

In my experience, teachers often recognize that adoptees struggle with different aspects of learning and socialization but are unsure how to help. There is very limited school counseling literature on children who have been adopted (Lancaster & Constantin, 2014) so it’s not a surprise that schools aren’t equipped to recognize or meet their unique needs. In order to experience success adoptees often require school based services, yet they may not be responsive to formal testing, typical classifications, or traditional ways of helping (Gindis, 2009). This makes it difficult for schools to access funding and for kids to get their needs met. Adoptive parents may run into roadblocks that other families do not face when trying to access supports.

What we do know from research is that an adoptee’s academic and social adjustment to the school setting is often impaired due to their complex early experiences. We also know that in order for learning to take place a child must feel safe in their environment and school can feel both physically and emotionally unsafe for children who struggle to be successful. So, how do we create safe spaces for children with early trauma to learn? What do parents need to know in order to be the best advocate for their child?

A Child’s Song offers two workshops Teaching the Hurt Child and Understanding the Needs of Adoptees at School for parents and educators to better understand and be equipped to create a learning environment that meets the needs of adoptees. These workshops are available to schools or community groups upon request. As well, our adoption competent therapists are also equipped to offer individual consultations for parents to support them in communicating with their child’s school and being an advocate for their child’s needs. This service can be offered via Skype or Phone for families that live outside of our region.

The team at A Child’s Song also includes an adoption competent psychologist who offers Psychoeducational Assessments that provide a more in depth look at a child’s skills and competencies as well as considering the impact of their psychological functioning on all areas of school performance. Parents who have accessed this service indicate that the recommendations Dr. Crandall provides in her assessment report are focused on the information school personnel need about their child’s specific learning needs and the practical suggestions to make their teacher’s job easier.

If you would like more information about our services or wish to book a consultation session please Contact Us. We are available to support families so that they can become a successful advocate for their child!

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