, Volume 35, Issue 5, pp 615-623
Date: 16 Sep 2005

Post-Institutional Autistic Syndrome in Romanian Adoptees

Romanian adoptees have a background of severe neglect. International research has shown that this can give rise to symptoms of autistic behavior. Rutter et al. (1999, Journal of Child Psychology Psychiatry, 40(4), 537–549.) refers to “quasi-autistic patterns”, and Federici (1998, Help for the hopelss child: A guide for families. Alexandria: Federici & Assocoates.) to Post-Institutional Autistic Syndrome (PIAS). Eighty Romanian adoptees, averaging 8 years of age, who had resided in the Netherlands for 5 years were studied. Parent interviews and the Auti-R scale showed the extent to which the children exhibited PIAS. In one third of these children we observed (in addition to other behavioral problems) stereotypic behaviors and communication and language disorders. Our findings resembled the Rutter et al. (1999, Journal of Child Psychology Psychiatry, 40(4), 537–549). data. Six of the children were classified within the autistic spectrum pursuant to the Auti-R, and seven within the so-called intermediate group. No difference was found between the girls and the boys. Children who had been in their adoptive families for 5 years or more showed fewer behavior problems than children who had been in their adoptive families for four or less years.