Objective. The purpose of this study was to examine whether children adopted from Romanian orphanages have difficulty with sensory processing and related behaviors.

Method. Seventy-three children adopted from Romanian orphanages were compared with 72 peers who were typically developing. The subjects’ ages ranged from 3 to 6 years. The parent-report Developmental and Sensory Processing Questionnaire was used to assess sensory processing and related behaviors. The tool consists of questions in six sensory processing domains and five related behavioral domains.

Results. Multiple t tests indicated that the subjects adopted from Romanian orphanages demonstrated significantly greater problems than those in the control group on five of the six sensory processing domains: touch, movement-avoids, movement-seeks, vision, and audition. Additionally, the Romanian subjects exhibited significantly greater problems than the control subjects on four of the five behavioral domains: activity level, feeding, organization, and social-emotional.

Conclusions. These findings substantiate clinical observations and parent reports of sensory processing deficits in children adopted from Romanian orphanages and highlight the critical importance of the environment for sensory integration. The findings also enhance our understanding of how children who were previously institutionalized respond to the human and physical environment.

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