PTSD Awareness in Pediatric Patients

Written by Kristen Barnes, OTR, MOT

Did you know that more than two-thirds of all children in the United States have experienced at least one traumatic event by the time they reach the age of 16? Many people don’t associate PTSD with children, but the truth is that trauma can impact us at any age. During PTSD awareness month, we want to inform you of how PTSD can manifest and affect a child.

In children Trauma can be a result of:

  • Isolation from friends due to illness or Covid 
  • Traumatic birth         
  • Physical or emotional abuse or neglect 
  • School violence 
  • Bullying 
  • Life threatening illnesses 
  • Natural disasters  
  • Witnessing a household member who suffers from mental illness, is addicted to illicit drugs or alcohol abuse 
  • Parental death or death of someone close to them 
  • Feelings of abandonment due to loss of access to a parent from deployment divorce, death or incarceration 
  • Racism 

PTSD causes you body’s autonomic nervous system to operate in a high alert state at all times – we call this fight/ flight/ freeze. This means that a trigger – whether known or unconscious – can cause your brain to release neurotransmitters resulting in a fleeing response, fight back verbally/physically, or freeze due to difficulty processing the incoming information. A trigger can be from any source, something you see, taste, smell, read, hear or remembering the event.

Exhibiting unusual behaviors doesn’t mean your child has PTSD. But it is important to be aware of possible warning signs, especially if you child has recently faced a trauma of some kind.

Symptoms you might see in your child related to PTSD/Trauma:

  • Anxious or fearful of situations 
  •  Withdraw from relationships
  •  Inability to concentrate 
  •  Trouble sleeping 
  •  Exaggerated startle response 
  •  Learning or behavioral issues  
  •  Isolating behaviors 
  •  Self-harm 
  •  Trouble sleeping 
  •  Hypervigilance 
  •  Increased irritability or angry outbursts 
  •  Cognitive or social delays 

At TLC Kids therapy our therapists are specially trained to help you and your child identify triggers and develop coping techniques to assist them through a triggered episode. We teach skills though different means of therapy to increase recognition of what is/are their specific triggers and how to appropriately and efficiently calm and ground the body to reduce autonomic response and induce calmness during stressors. Over time these practices can reduce intensity of PTSD triggers and give them control of their emotions for increased regulation and the ability to use healthful strategies in everyday life.

If you think your child may benefit from services to address symptoms of PTSD, let us know. Awareness is the first step to healing!

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TLC Kids Therapy

We provide a safe, enriching and child friendly environment for therapy. Our mission is to be a blessing to all of the children and families that comes through our doors.

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