Written by Jessica Hardy, OTA/S and TLC Parent
November is National Adoption Month! Chances are, you know someone whose life has been impacted by adoption. But did you know that almost 60% of the adoptions that take place in the US are children who were previously in the foster care system?¹ That’s almost 80,000 children each year being adopted through the Department of Family and Social Services.
According to the American Occupational Therapy Association, “any child experiencing foster care even a single time, for issues including caregiver incompetency, diminished child capacity, and system inefficiencies reduce the potential for occupational justice.”² This means that the trauma and adversity that is inherent to the experience of being placed in foster care puts children at risk of falling behind their peers in areas of social skills, self-regulation, emotional well-being, cognition, educational performance, and physical health. In fact, nearly 25% of children in foster care experience post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) – nearly double the rate of individuals in active military deployment.³
What does this all mean? At TLC, we believe that providing intervention as early as possible is key to helping children affected by foster care. Depending on the child’s needs, their intervention team may include speech, physical, and/or occupational therapists, as well as behavioral analysts.
These professionals work together with the goal of helping the child thrive in their new environment by bridging any gaps that may have formed or been widened as a result of their history.
Occupational therapy is an excellent tool in supporting the physical and mental health needs of both children in the foster care system, and children placed in adoptive families via foster care. Because occupational therapy supports individuals in their daily activities, for pediatric patients, intervention is going to look like a lot of play! Through that play, the therapy provider is incorporating interventions that develop skills in many areas – engagement, motivation, peer interactions, gross and fine motor sills, sensory-motor skills, independence in self-care, emotional regulation, and mental health and wellness.
When our family began the process of becoming foster parents, and later adopting our four children, we had little understanding of how the trauma they had endured would impact their lives long term – or how to support them through it. Finding occupational therapy providers who were dedicated to helping our children succeed was a major development for our family. They helped us understand what our children were communicating to us through their behaviors and changed the way we parent!
Do you believe your child may benefit from therapy services? Contact us at TLC Kids Therapy to discuss an evaluation!
- Adoption Network (n.d.). US adoption statistics. Retrieved from Adoption Network.
- Lynch, A., Ashcraft, R., Paul-Ward, A., Tekell, L., Salamat, A., & Schefkind, S (2017). Occupation therapy’s’ role in mental health promotion, prevention, & intervention: Foster care. The American Occupational Therapy Association, Inc.
- Deutsch, S. A., Lynch, A., Zlotnik, S., Matone, M., Kreider, A., & Noonan, K. (2015). Mental health, behavioral, and developmental issues for youth in foster care. Current Problems in Pediatric and Adolescent Health, 45(10), 292–297.