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  • Writer's pictureBennett International

Relocating With SEN Children: Understanding Cultural Differences

Updated: Apr 28, 2020

Bennett's CEO, Elizabeth Sawyer, was recently invited to speak alongside Elizabeth Stewart (EVP, Altair Global), Patrick Keery (VP, Altair Global), and Deanna Trevino (International Relocation Specialist, Rockwell Automation) in a webinar hosted by Worldwide ERC - “Bridging the Gap: Special Needs and Mobility.”

In this excerpt, Elizabeth explains, using ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) as an example, how relocating families need to be aware of differences in cultural approaches to cognitive disabilities (edited for clarity): 

"One of the things that I'd like to highlight is the fact that - and this is very important in relocation - the whole concept of cognitive disabilities is very culturally laced... depending on where you're going, there may be a very different attitude toward a child's learning disabilities compared to where they're coming from. This may be because they're going to a place where there's a certain stigma attached to a child having a disability, as can be the case in a lot of developing countries. Or, it may be something different, such as a different approach to medicine or to child development. Just a couple of statistics to give you an idea of what I mean: so, for example, according to the ADHD Institute, we have a 2.2% "worldwide mean prevalence" of ADHD. In the U.S, 11% of kids are diagnosed with ADHD and 7.7% of those take medication for that. By comparison, in France, 1% of kids are diagnosed with ADHD and, of those kids, 0.4% - 0.6% take medication. What causes that difference in those statistics? Are children in the U.S. really so different from children in France? Probably not. So, is it that we diagnose differently in the two countries? Is it that there are broader parameters in the US? By comparison, in France, ADHD is seen more as something that is caused by environment, so a child is more likely to be treated through sleep therapy, behavioral therapy, family therapy, and diet. There's a bit more skepticism towards medication, whereas in the U.S. we have a different approach. As another example, there was a time when families relocating to Japan would learn that the medications their children used for ADHD weren't even legal there. It was something that families moving to Japan needed to be aware of. Depending on where a family is going may or may not present additional challenges. The experience will probably - definitely - ask them to be more open-minded in how they themselves think about cognitive disabilities."

Bennett International provides the foremost expert education counsel to families residing or relocating anywhere in the world. We guide hundreds of relocating families every year to find the best-fit schools for their children, and further support them with long-range education planning. 

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