We have all been asked by the author of this article to pass this information along about trauma that occurs in the psyche of newborn children who get adopted straight away after they are born or just a few days or months later. I am pleased to share this with you. Please read it and distribute it at will.
The Trauma Tree – Understanding The Impact Of Childhood Trauma
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Childhood trauma is often overlooked, greatly misunderstood and one of the most damaging things that can happen to a child. The effects can last a lifetime and my hope is to never hear the words, At least he was too young to remember, again.
My son has PTSD – Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.Except he can’t have PTSD because the medical definition of PTSD requires that the cause be a remembered event. So although he suffered complex and prolonged trauma from before he was even born and through his first year of life, traumas that still affect his every moment and every breath, he can’t be diagnosed with PTSD.
There is a movement to get a new diagnosis recognized, Developmental Trauma Disorder since in reality the issue is that PTSD or trauma experienced later in life, is different from trauma experienced while the brain is still forming. It needs its own definition, but as a parent trying to get help for my son, it is incredibly frustrating that so little is known about the effect of trauma on children.
Over the years, since our adoption was completed and we experienced our son’s struggles first hand, I have returned to school and my studies of the brain trying to help my son heal and grow into the amazing adult I know he is meant to be. And there is one issue that I want to bring up and that needs to change in society.
One of the most maddening things I hear is that my son was too young to remember the traumas he experienced as an infant and toddler, therefore he will be fine. This is completely and utterly wrong, in fact, it is the complete opposite. Through my studies, I came across a great image to explain the truth of childhood trauma and brain resiliency.
Picture a tree with roots.
The roots represent the prenatal stage of growth, where the tree touches the ground is birth, the trunk is infancy and early childhood, lower branches are childhood, and up to adulthood at the top branches. If trauma occurs at any stage, the rest of the tree’s growth (aka, the brain’s growth) beyond that point is negatively affected. The older you are, the more life experiences and knowledge you have to cope and the less actively the brain is developing (ie. the more branches you have to compensate).
Childhood trauma is often complex and can be catastrophic, leaving a lifetime of struggles in almost all facets of life. This is significantly true of trauma exposure during the prenatal and infancy stages (roots and trunk) when the brain is at its most critical and active phases of development. The younger a person is when exposed to trauma, the higher their risk of developing trauma-related disorders including learning disorders, developmental disorders, cognitive deficits, attention issues, attachment disorders, and so much more.
A young brain needs a healthy chemistry to develop properly. A brain that is developing while flooded with trauma induced chemicals (such as cortisol and adrenaline) fails to form healthy, strong connections.
Children are never too young to remember. Please don’t belittle childhood trauma as being a lesser form of trauma. The parents who are raising these children face enough struggles. It is my hope to create greater understanding in the world about the effects of trauma on a child’s brain.
Please share this wide and far so we can all work together to help these children. And please, never again say: At least they were too young to remember.
The next 8 hr. Trust Based Parent Training is scheduled forFebruary 20th and 27th from 12noon to 4pm. $200 per couple. Childcare available for $30 each day. To sign up emailJen@attachplace.com and she will register you.
Monthly Adoptive Parent Support Group is every secondWednesday of the month from 5:30pm to 7:30pm. Group and Childcare are Free.
Look for Ce Eshelman’s Upcoming Book
Drowning With My Hair On Fire
Insanity Relief For Adoptive Parents
Expected Release Date: February 28, 2016
Drowning with My Hair On Fire is a compilation of over 175 daily support letters to parents of adoptive children and other children from difficult beginnings. With a forward by Dave Ziegler, Ph.D. and a brief personal memoir, this publication is a response to blog-reader requests for a book of letters that can be easily returned to day after day, when inspiration is hard to find.
Praise for Drowning with My Hair On Fire…
This woman saved our family. This book will save your sanity! After years (and many therapists) of getting it wrong, Ce Eshelman got our traumatized family on the right path to attachment, sanity, and big big love. Ce’s unique therapy is grounded in the latest brain research, her own struggles raising traumatized children, and work with hundreds of families like ours. Her stories, contained in this book, are our stories: full of pain, confusion, hope, faith, love and practical magic that really works.
Elaine Smith, Adoptive Mother
Ce’s daily blog has been a lifesaver, particularly when days are most dreary and hopeless. Not only have her words of empathy proven to be priceless to our family, but I have often forwarded them on to others. Such a comfort to feel understood, with no judgment.
Patty O’Hair, Adoptive Mother
In a real sense “Drowning with My Hair on Fire: Insanity Relief for Adoptive Parents” is a daily mediation of struggle, success, failure and getting up and trying again. If that sounds like too much to subject yourself to then don’t adopt a challenging child. And one more thing, shouldn’t we require prospective adoptive parents to read “Drowning with My Hair on Fire: Insanity Relief for Adoptive Parents” rather than another ‘All they need is love’ manual?
Dave Ziegler, Ph.D., founder of Jasper Mountain Center and author of many books on raising children from difficult beginnings.