An empirical study completed by me at the Center for Family Development has just been published in Child Welfare, which is the Journal for the Child Welfare League of America. The article is
Becker-Weidman, A., (2009). Effects of Early Maltreatment on Development: A Descriptive Study Using the Vineland Adaptive Behavior Scales-II, 88(2) pp.137-161.
Children with histories of chronic early maltreatment within a care giving relationship may develop complex trauma or developmental trauma disorder and experience a variety of deficits in several domains. This study explored the effects of complex trauma on the development of 57 children, as measured by the Vineland Adaptive Behavior Scales-II. This is the first descriptive study to report on the significant discrepancies between chronological and developmental ages in adopted and foster children. This study found that adopted and foster children with a psychiatric diagnosis of reactive attachment disorder show developmental delays i the domains of communication, daily living skills, and socialization. The average adaptive behavior composite score for the children in this study yielded a developmental age (age equivalency) of 4.4 years, while the average chronological age was 9.9 years. The study describes the various delays in each domain and then discusses the implications for treatment and parenting, schools, child welfare policy, programs, and practices, and for further research.