Early Language Development in Children Adopted from Ethiopia

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  • The number of children who are adopted internationally has been steadily increasing. However, there is a limited amount of research on how language typically develops in this population. This study followed 20 children under the age of 5 who were adopted from Ethiopia to North America. Longitudinal surveys, including the MacArthur-Bates Communicative Development Inventories (MCDI; Fenson et al., 2007), were used to record their language progression at 3 month intervals post adoption. Results were compared to those of children adopted from China and to norms for non-adopted peers. Children who were adopted at a younger age (< 6 mos) showed similar language development patterns to their non-adopted peers. However, children who were adopted at an older age took longer than those adopted at a younger age to catch up to age norms. Ethiopian children who were adopted at a later age ( >12 mos) showed much steeper growth curve in their expressive language than children who were adopted at a younger age. Children adopted from China showed similar patterns of language development. This information is important for clinicians and parents to understand the unique language development of their children and what it means for communication.

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    Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 International