Регистрация / Вход
Прислать материал

Emotions in institutionalized young children with special needs

Scientific organization
Saint-Petersburg State University
Academic degree
Scientific discipline
Life Sciences & Medicine
Emotions in institutionalized young children with special needs
Emotions are biological basis and the main source of infants development. Children with special needs (SN) may show unusual emotions and not recognize parent's emotional feedback. The most vulnerable group are SN children in institutions. Investigations demonstrate a positive impact of early intervention programs on development of SN children. But there is a lack of research data on characteristics of emotions in SN children (especially institutionalized) that could help to understand the trajectory of the emotional development and create congruent early intervention programs
children, special needs, emotions, institutions


Emotions in institutionalised young children with special needs


From the  beginning  of the 19th century develops the idea stated by C.Darvinom that ability of the person to express the emotions is congenital and caused by evolution.

Most often investigated implications are:

·   Expressions of emotions on the face

·   In a voice

·   And as impulses to physical action.

Innateness of all parameters set forth above does not mean that training, education and other factors of environment do not render any influence on expression of emotions by a person.

Izard К. has stated the idea about step-type behaviour of emotions, has underlined their social nature fixed during evolution at level of a biological reflex (Izard, 1977).

External determinants can essentially   bedevil the implications of emotions put initially. However the identical character of expression of each emotion repeatedly proved to be true cross-country - cultural researches.

Since the birth the child is capable to express emotions on the face, character of these expressions gradually develops during human life. All muscles of the face which are necessary for expression of various emotions, are formed in fetal development. Therefore the child since the birth is capable to express various emotions which are differentiated subsequently. (Muhamedrahimov, 2008, p.13). 

Emotions are the biological basis and the main source of an infant's development. Multiple researches showed that biological reasons and social environment can influence children's ability to recognise and generate emotional expressions.

True recognition of a facial expression of other person, effective utilisation of emotional expressions in interaction become the major skills of the baby. (Caron, Caron, and Myers, 1982; de Haan and Nelson, 1998; Kestenbaum and Nelson, 1990; Ludemann and Nelson, 1988; Nelson, 1987; Nelson and Dolgin, 1985). The human face is special object strong emotional tie with which is pledge the normal physical, cognitive, social and emotional development. (Vinnikott, 2007; Lafreniere, 2004; Stern, 2001; Feldman, 2007; Tronick and Reck, 2009).

For our research it is important to understand evolutionary reasons of occurrence of emotions very important. On a course of evolution of the person the growing period was enlarged, collected experience which it was necessary to transfer to young generation, by means of training. It is important for child's  survival, that there should be a close mutual attachment, between him and the person caring of it, there should be a close mutual attachment. The emotions ate the factor of mutual attachment of mother and the child. This social communication between mother and the child has been obliged to be generated during evolution.  Another reason of occurrence of emotions was need of communication between mother and the child, as well as between adult people. It is obvious, as before the occurrence of speech, emotion was the major channel of communications. Emotional communication has enormous value as without it such close interaction between mother and the child would be impossible.

From here follows the importance of early experience of the baby. It is extremely important to establish strong and reliable links between mother and the child which are put since the very first days and even hours of his life. Quality of this links provides normal physical, cognitive, social and emotional development.

Unfortunately, in reality it often happens when due to any reasons the interrelation between mother and the child cannot be established.

Among factors menacing the establishment of effective links mother-child can be defined:

1.  The situation of deprivation.

The situation of deprivation deprives of the child of possibility to pass gradually and consistently to pass all stages of communication with mother and gradual possibility to be separated from her.

Since almost biological unity with mother, indissoluble contact to object of attachment, veneering of the general representations about availability and responsiveness of the trustee, up to a stage on which the child is found out the readiness to leave the close adult on short time intervals.

It is important to understand in what surroundings turns out a child who has lost parent care. There is voluminous literature about the researches devoted to a social environment of babies in children's homes. Researchers do a conclusion that only physical needs are satisfied, whereas the psychological are ignored. (Muhamedrahimov, 2008).

Socially caused possibilities to train appearance of emotions in interaction with the close adult are essentially lowered.

There is the rich research material describing consequences of staying in establishment for emotional development of children. (Provence, Lipton, 1991; Muhamedrahimov, 1991, 2003,2008)

- There is a mass of problems with recognition and understanding of emotions with the children deprived of parent guardianship. The special attention is deserved by association between difficulties in emotional processes and the enlarged risk of development of various psychological disorders at such children.

- Children with experience of deprivation distinguish emotions less often correctly distinguish emotions, than usual.

- Children demonstrate difficulties in difference definition between emotional conditions.

- They see more similarities between the happy and sad person, than children in other groups.

 - Such children have less possibilities of training to emotions

2.  Delays, features of development, physical inability of children can prevent development of emotional mutual understanding between parents and children. (Hyche, Bakeman and Adamson, 1992; Lorraine F. Kubicek, Karen Riley, Jeanine Coleman, Gloria Miller and Toni Linder 2013; Eric Emerson and Stewart Einfeld, 2010).

The given problem can be solved by two approaches. On the one hand, features of emotional expressions, reaction and recognition of emotions can arise because of the general features of development.  This point of view has a lot of contradictions, but there are the researches specifying that emotional development, becomes a certain support of the general development  of the retarded children, or when a child suffers from physical inability, leaders to problems in informative, behavioural and social spheres. There also programs for children with disorders of an autistic spectrum, a mental retardation, the arrests of development, informing on achievement of results in ability of recognition of emotions at such children.

But as it is necessary to remember that, unfortunately, parents and children with special needs often face problems of  behaviour and vital stress factors which can prevent development of high-grade interaction.

The facial expression of children with special requirements can be less expressive and is clear, and answers of parents can be perceived not truly.

Children with special needs (SN) may show unusual emotional reactions and not recognise parent's emotional feedback. The most vulnerable group are children with special needs living in caretaking institutions. (Charles A. Nelson, 2005; Seth D.Pollak, Dante Cicchetti, Katherine Hornung, Alex Reed, 2005; Freedman, Insel, AND Smith, 2000).

Consequences of these factors of the given early experience is indisputable for the child fad leave its mark on all life.

Research shows a positive impact of early intervention programs on development of

SN children. But there is a lack of research data on characteristics of emotional expressions manifested by SN children (especially institutionalised) that could help to understand the trajectory of their emotional development and create congruent early intervention programs. (Downs et al., 2008; the Command of researchers of children's homes: St.-Petersburg, the Russian Federation - Pittsburgh, the USA, 2013).

It is obviously important for us to investigate this question from a position of studying of expression of discrete emotions in a situation of immediate interaction of the child and the close adult.


There are many researches in which sample were formed on the basis of medical diagnoses. More often the features of emotional development in these works were considered within the limits of one concrete disturbance.

We tried to consider but not to concentrate on medical indications.

Participants included children with special needs aged 9 to 44 months old from two types of institutions: family-type orphanages and traditional orphanages with deprivation conditions. Children had different medical diagnoses and were combined in the same research group according to the Functional Abilities Index (Simeonsson AND Bailey, 1991; Muhamedrahimov, Palmov, Istomina, 2000).

The technique includes 9 areas of development:

- Hearing

- Behaviour and social skills

- Intellectual functions

- Motor functions

- Orientation on dialogue

- Muscular tone

- The general state of health

- Eyesight

- Anatomical organization

Children’s facial emotional expressions were measured using Dyadic Affect Manual (Osofsky, Muhamedrahimov, Hammer, 1998) in a set of episodes: free play child-caregiver interaction - separation - reunion.

The main aim of the technique is to estimate qualitative and quantitative characteristics of emotion on a child's face in the course of interaction with the adult. And evaluate characteristics of emotional reaction of adult interaction in a situation with the child.

Video recording of five three-minute episodes of interaction of the child and the close adult with the subsequent estimation of 8 emotions taking into account their intensity is made.

1   Free game

2   The Adult leaves a room; the child remains one (the first separation)

3   The Adult comes back (the first reunion)

4   The Adult again leaves a room (the second separation)

5   The Adult comes back (the second reunion)

In each situation on a 5-ball scale 8 emotions are estimated: 4 positive (pleasure, interest, excitement, surprise) and 4 negative (grief, sorrow, anger, fear).

 Positive and negative emotional tone is calculated. In addition the technique allows to fix indicators of big and small motor function and deadaptative behaviour. Specially trained commission of experts do analysis of video recording. 

Results. The Experiment aims to observe emotional manifestations and activities of an infant in various situations during interactions with adults (shown most clearly in stress). Separation from a familiar adult is a major stress-producing factor. SN children out of traditional orphanages differ from those of family-type orphanages in the use of stress-coping techniques. Traditional orphanage children demonstrate a higher positive affect as compared to the second group (М=5,50±2,17 and М=3,55±1,81 accordingly, р=0,003) and a higher motor activity (М=7,40±1,17 and М=6,00±0,41, р=0,04).

Conclusion: Positive affect and motor activity cannot be deemed an adequate stress reaction. Most likely, a hyperbolized elation demonstrated by an infant appears to be false, whereas hyperactivity helps reduce the emotional tension caused by stress. We assume that the above-mentioned strategy can be deemed adaptive within a traditional orphanage and enables an infant to attract an adult's attention in a more efficient manner, than demonstrating true emotions - a strategy that cannot facilitate normal infant development.

The further direction of our study is the decision of a question about differentiation of children with various combinations of safe functional abilities on groups and comparison of characteristics of their emotional reaction to those at typically developing children in children's homes of traditional and family type. We assume that it is possible to achieve the development of strategy of the emotional reaction of children with the established medical diagnosis comparable to those at children of standard group of development of functional abilities. Quality of emotional development of the child with special needs depends on characteristics of its interaction with the close adult, abilities of the adult to see, distinguish and to react to signals of the child with special needs. We consider that results of work will help to develop  support programs for children with the special needs, aimed at their harmonious development, both with children's homes, and in families (biological and replacing).