OBJECTIVE. To examine the relation between length of institutionalization and sensory integration in children adopted from Eastern Europe.
METHOD. The Sensory Integration and Praxis Tests (SIPT) and the Developmental and Sensory Processing Questionnaire were administered to 60 adopted children, 4 years to 8 years, 11 months of age. Thirty had longer institutionalization histories (mean: 34 months; LIH group) and the other 30 had shorter institutionalization histories (mean: 3 months; SIH group).
RESULTS. The LIH group demonstrated significantly lower scores than the SIH group on the SIPT in vestibular-proprioceptive, visual, and praxis areas, and effect sizes ranged from .09 to 1.13. The LIH group also had significantly more frequent behaviors suggestive of sensory modulation dysfunction compared to the SIH group, particularly in touch and movement seeking, vision, and audition. Effect sizes ranged from 0 to 1.39.
CONCLUSION. Longer lengths of institutionalization are associated with more atypical sensory discrimination, praxis, and sensory modulation scores in children adopted from Eastern European orphanages. The areas of sensory integration that appear to be more vulnerable to deprived conditions in early childhood are vestibular-proprioceptive, tactile, visual, auditory, and praxis. Adopted children with lengthy periods of institutionalization may benefit from occupational therapy for early sensory integrative and developmental screenings.