First International School On Mind, Brain And Education

2005 July 16-20

Summer Institute on
Mind, Brain and Education

Directors: Antonio M. Battro and Kurt W. Fischer
Program officer: MarĂ­a Lourdes Majdalani

Abstract: Yee-Jin Shin, (Sang me Han, & Eun Hee Ryu, Ph.D)
Department of Psychiatry, College of Medicine, Yonsei University. KOREA

Correcting learning strategies of children with serious problems of socio-emotional development in early childhood
Numerous studies have reported that children who were neglected or maltreated during early childhood could show various degrees of developmental delays, not only in socio-emotional area but also in cognitive development. However, there has been little attention to learning problems of children experienced various kinds of neglect or maltreatment. There are several outstanding scholars who consider emotion, one of the most vulnerable parts of these children, plays a very important role in learning.
According to Greenspan, emotion enables people to organize, store and retrieve memories and also enables us to remember what we experienced in one situation and apply to another situation that is the essential part of learning. Vygotsky's concept of the zone of proximal development is defined as the distance between a child's actual developmental level and the potential developmental level. It emphasized that children's essential features of learning, internal development, can happen when the child is interacting with people in his environment
To understand individual variations in development and learning, Fisher & Rose (2001) emphasized dynamic approach that move beyond the static one dimensional ladder and to build on the concept of a constructive web of skills. Each child constructs distinct pathways and possesses a different level of skill in the learning domains. These variations in performance are a function of the child's emotional state and how much immediate support the child receives. A child can reach the optimal level of skill when he fully receives social, emotional support.
Present study aims to study what kind of learning problems these children might have and how to improve their learning problems.
The subjects were three children among 7 to 10 of age who have been diagnosed as Reactive Attachment Disorder during early childhood, and parents complained difficulties of learning in these children even after their early psychiatric problems diminished. We evaluated their learning strategies and neuropsychological functions, and provided special educations to intervene their learning problems based on test results.
Although their general intelligence scores were above than average, they showed cognitive patterns somewhat similar to those of children with autistic disorder-very superior rote memory (very good at remembering a certain date or numbers in detail)- but low functioning in long term memory, egocentric thought (not able to understand other's intention and perspective), deficits in connecting and integrating information and forming abstract thinking. They were very resistant to learn new stimuli, especially when situation was stressful or they did not favor that stimulus. They seemed to shut down their attention to avoid distressful emotion derived by new academic tasks.
We tried to correct these learning problems by applying special programs, consist of emotional/motivational enrichment program and socio/abstract thinking enrichment program. We also use the reciprocal interaction between teacher and student as an essential part of learning process, so that students could have better perspectives about outer world, i.e. other than self. After one year of intervention, all three children improved greatly, not only general academic grades but also motivation of self- learning.
These results implicated that children experienced neglect or maltreatment during early childhood may have somewhat unique patterns of learning problems, qualitatively different from children with other learning disorders. And these learning problems can improve through the appropriate educational remediation.