TRAVEL AND TRANSITION
Institutional behaviors often are noted in the early hours and days after adoption. These 'institutional behaviors' include rocking; swaying or 'bobbing"; head banging; head shaking; head bopping; hand staring or flapping; spacing out (dissociating); staring at lights, fans, shadows; biting, hitting, or scratching self or others; smelling objects; hair twirling or ear pulling; teeth grinding; looking at objects very closely.
These behaviors may be upsetting to unprepared parents. Occasionally institutional behaviors are captured on videos supplied to parents prior to adoption; however, this is uncommon. More frequently, these behaviors are observed after the child is placed with the family. These behaviors provide self-comfort, sensory stimulation, or attract adult attention. For children lacking physical comfort, toys, social interactions, and other experiences, these behaviors are adaptive and promote neurologic development in an abnormal environment. Some of these behaviors may be considered survival skills.
From THE HANDBOOK OF INTERNATIONAL ADOPTION MEDICINE by Laurie C. Miller. © 2004 by Oxford University Press, Inc. Used by Permission.