PTSD Awareness Month

June is Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) Awareness Month.

In the work/service that we provide here in the Special Needs Adoption Program (SNAP) family, we are faced with PTSD and the effects of trauma on a daily basis. I wanted to take some time to go over some basic information regarding Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder to freshen our minds as we work with our children in the foster care/adoption community.

Normal, immediate reactions to trauma can include overwhelming feelings of helplessness, fear, withdrawal, depression, and anger. Children are less likely to experience some well-known adult symptoms of PTSD, such as flashbacks. In child welfare, physical and sexual abuse are common sources of trauma, but prolonged separation from caretakers is enough to cause trauma in a child.

Symptoms can begin anywhere from weeks to even years after the traumatic event. In a study done in 1999, researchers found that PTSD was diagnosed for 60% of sexually abused children and 42% of physically abused children in foster care. 18% of children in foster care were found to have PTSD with no history of abuse. 1 out of 3 children entering the system meet the criteria for PTSD.

Children who have experienced trauma can have relationship problems with their peers, family members, and have problems acting out. They are at higher risk of problems with school when it comes to their grades and success in education.

Foster children are twice as likely to experience PTSD than veterans.

PTSD Symptoms by Age:

Under 6: Children under the age of 6 will often have issues sleeping, and need caretakers close. These children also act out their traumas through play.

Ages 7-11: School age children continue to act out trauma through play, and begin to draw pictures or tell stories that feature their trauma. They can suffer from nightmares, or may begin to act overly aggressive and irritable. They may have trouble with schoolwork and friends.

Ages 12-18: Pre-teen and teenage youth displays symptoms similar to adults. They can experience depression, anxiety, withdrawal, or exhibit reckless behavior such as substance abuse, promiscuity, or running away.

  • Megan Lyda, Special Needs Adoption Progam (SNAP) Coordinator

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