Adoption is a way of making dreams come true for children and their new families in Michigan. However, bringing a child with a traumatic history into a household brings challenges for everyone concerned.
PTSD in children
Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is an often misunderstood condition. Many associate it with war veterans, but statistics tell a different story. According to the Bureau of Veteran’s Affairs, up to 15% of girls and 6% of boys who’ve experienced trauma during their formative years develop PTSD.
PTSD symptoms in children and teens
Although some experiences are similar, PTSD in children and teens may exhibit differently than in adults struggling with the same condition.
The symptoms of PTSD in children include:
• Nightmares and other sleep disturbances
• Reliving the trauma, either mentally or during play
• Intense fear or sadness that continues for a long duration
• Lack of emotion
• Becoming emotional when something reminds them of past trauma
• Irrational behavior or angry outbursts
They can also respond differently to normal requests or act out situations that are usually beyond their years. Children coping with past trauma can struggle with other conditions, such as depression and anxiety.
Older children in Michigan’s foster care system are harder to place, especially when they have special needs. When an adoption does happen, the new forever families need additional support.
Helping children deal with a traumatic history
Fortunately, emotional and mental health problems are treatable. Often, it takes finding the right type of therapy and showing kids a lot of love and patience. One treatment that shows promise is called Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR).
This type of treatment seeks to retrain the brain by noticing changes in eye movements and other types of muscle memory in response to triggers of traumatic events. The theory is that such a treatment can disconnect associations these memories create.