Child Counseling Research Paper

Pages: 8 (2862 words)  ·  Style: APA  ·  Bibliography Sources: 8  ·  File: .docx  ·  Level: College Senior  ·  Topic: Children

¶ … adoptive parents face when adopting a special needs child. The focus is on children with Sensory Integrative Dysfunction (SID) because these children present special challenges in that they need both more reinforcement that they are loved, and strong boundaries at the same time. This can be a confusing and complex challenge for the adoptive parents of these children. Counseling can play an important role in helping these parents succeed in their endeavor to raise a happy, healthy child.

Adoptive Parents Raising a Child with Sensory Integrative Dysfunction

The topic I am researching is parents who adopt children with special needs, in particular, with Sensory Integrative Dysfunction (SID). Sensory Integrative Dysfunction is a neurological disorder in which the human nervous system does not properly organize sensory information. It often occurs in children who have not received a normal amount of external sensory input such as touching, visual stimuli or sound. For example if a child was left for an extended period of time in a dark room with little to no contact with other human beings, the child would be prone to developing SID because he would have been deprived of the stimuli that help the functioning of the nervous system to develop properly.

According to Babb and Laws (1997) the main characteristics of SID are:

"Overly sensitive to touch, movement, sights, or sound

Underreactive to sensory stimulation (such as pain) or seek out intense sensory experiences (body whirling)

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Activity level that is unusually high or low

Coordination problems

Delays in speech, language, motor skills, or academic achievement

Poor organization of behavior

Poor self-concept" (p. 104)

TOPIC: Research Paper on Child Counseling Assignment

Some parents adopt children with special needs such as SID, creating an alternative family structure. Since most children suffering from SID have been abused and institutionalized, it is rare for the biological parents to raise them (Babb and Laws, 1997, p. 104). Therefore it is left up to the adoptive parents to deal with the repercussions of the disorder. Because the child has been deprived of parental love as an infant, is natural for the adoptive parents to want to overcompensate by showing the child with excessive amounts of love. But even parents of children with SID need to understand the importance of boundaries. As Cloud and Townshend (2001) point out, "Parents are the source of all good things for a child. They are the bridge to the outside world of resources that sustain life. And in giving and receiving resources, boundaries play a very important role" (p. 21)

The reason I have chosen this topic is that I know someone who adopted a child with SID and it has been a challenging experience. I have a strong interest in both the dynamics of adoption as it relates to family structure and child counseling, and to the impact of adopting a special needs child, particularly one with SID. I find both of these topics to be intriguing on their own, and by combining them together I believe I will be embarking on a research experience that will be both enlightening and intriguing.

Problem Statement

According to Babb & Laws (1997) "research shows that the adoptions that are most difficult and the most likely to fail are those of children who have emotional and behavioral problems" (p. 89). SID is technically a physical disorder (i.e. A neurological disorder) however there are many emotional problems that tend to accompany it as well, such as rebelliousness and low self-esteem. Therefore, parents who adopt a child with SID are subject to not only the added difficulties that can emerge from an adopting a child as opposed to producing one biologically, but also to the many problems associated with raising a child with both a physical and emotional disorder. Taking all of these factors into consideration, research is clearly needed as to how parents in such a situation can best help their family function in a healthy and productive manner.

In 2006, the following family structures comprised adoptive families in the United States:

Married Couple



Unmarried Couple


Single Female



Single Male



Source: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (2008a)

As can be seen in the chart below, children with emotional problems such as SID comprise about 35% of special needs adoptions.

Percent of Children with Special Health Care Needs

with Selected Health Conditions, by Adoptive Status

Source: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, (2008b)

Unique Characteristics of the Special Needs Adopted Family

There are several unique characteristics of the special needs adoptive family that are likely to come to light in child counseling. Because it is more difficult to find permanent homes for special needs children, government agencies have relaxed their criteria, making marital status and ages of the adoptive parents a less pertinent issue. According to Babb & Laws (1997) "This new flexibility is great news for special needs children who wait for unconditional love and a permanent family. And it is wonderful news for the thousands of Americans who once thought no agency would accept their application. This trend continues to extend to adults who have a different lifestyle, but who could be good parents" (p. 215). Gays and lesbians also have a better chance to adopt a special needs child than they do to adopt a "normal" child (Ryan et al., 2004).

Regardless of the specifics of the family structure, all adoptive families are forced to deal with problems that are generally not faced by biological families. For example, they have to take on a parental role with an individual with whom they have had no prior parental bonding. Adoptive parents may then feel guilty for any difficulties the child faces, blaming themselves for not bonding as well as they feel they should have. According to Simmel et. al. (2001) some experts believe "that impairments in adoptive parents' abilities to form emotional bonds with their adopted children originated from unresolved unconscious conflicts about their 'status' as adoptive parents, resulting in the youth's behavior disorders" (p. 61). Adoptive parents also have to confront behavioral developmental problems that are already instilled in the child; problems that they had no part in creating. This can be particularly difficult with a SID child because they are often dealing with the repercussions of early childhood abuse and/or neglect. As Clinton and Sibcy (2006) point out, parents have a tendency to overindulge or spoil their children which can actually do more harm than good. This tendency is likely to be particularly strong in parents of special needs to children but they must remember Clinton and Sibcy's advice and look at the long-term consequences of their behaviors.

In addition to these role differences, adoptive families are forced to deal with a great deal of bureaucracy that biological parents never have to face. The adoption agency and social services are constantly monitoring the success of the adoption, which gives adoptive parents the added stress of having to 'prove themselves' to authorities. They also have to undergo strict background checks before they can even be considered for adoption. Biological parents on the other hand can have and raise a child without anyone's permission or judgments (Rosenthal & Groza, 1992).

Another factor that is unique to the adoptive family is that they are usually lacking a great deal of information about the child that biological parents would likely know. Having not been there for the birth of the child and not having experienced many of the child's developmental experiences can cause a notable gap in the bonding process. The older the adopted child is, the more of these experiences are missing from the adoptive parent's knowledge bank. As such, they have not yet mastered the subtleties of dealing with the child's behaviors -- skills that they would have likely developed over time and through experience had they given birth to the child and raised it from infancy (Rosenthal & Groza, 1992).

Adoptive parents are also forced to deal with the issue of whether or not to tell their child that he or she is adopted (depending on the age that the adoption took place). This is something else that traditional families do not have face. Then, there is also the added stress of wondering how the child will react when they do find out that they were adopted and have essentially been lied to their entire lives and have been abandoned by their biological parents. According to Pearson et al. (2007) "Some of the psychological issues that commonly occur among individuals who are adopted include a sense of loss, grief, shame, rejection, intimacy, control, identity formation, and depression...A sense of loss seems to be inherent in adoption for all parties involved...Because adoptees lose their birth parents, they are deprived of health information, social history, cultural history, and status" (p. 165). Accordingly, adoptive parents who decide to tell their children that they are adopted are forced to wonder: Will my child feel the need to search for his birth parents? Does he feel rejected and unwanted by… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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How to Cite "Child Counseling" Research Paper in a Bibliography:

APA Style

Child Counseling.  (2010, May 11).  Retrieved September 28, 2021, from

MLA Format

"Child Counseling."  11 May 2010.  Web.  28 September 2021. <>.

Chicago Style

"Child Counseling."  May 11, 2010.  Accessed September 28, 2021.