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The Cognitive Profiles of Maltreated Children in Care and Their Educational Needs: Supporting Good Outcomes

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  30 January 2013

Lisa Joanne DeGregorio
Australian Centre for Child Protection, University of South Australia, Adelaide
Sara McLean
Australian Centre for Child Protection, University of South Australia, Adelaide


Children in care, who have been maltreated, consistently demonstrate poorer educational outcomes than their peers. A number of reasons have been suggested for this such as a lack of stability and opportunities, as compared to their peers. One possible contributor to the poorer educational attainment of children in care is their underlying cognitive vulnerabilities. Cognitive deficits in maltreated children are thought to arise as a result of the impact of trauma on the developing brain. These cognitive deficits include difficulties with executive functioning. Executive functioning abilities include the ability to inhibit behaviour, plan ahead and switch from task to task and are critical for navigating the day to day requirements of educational settings. This article summarises what we know about the cognitive vulnerabilities of maltreated children in care and outlines the implications of these cognitive deficits for supporting maltreated children.

Copyright © The Authors 2013

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