Childhood Trauma

Childhood trauma may represent a single acute trauma, like a motor vehicle accident, or more chronic, ongoing forms of trauma. This latter form of trauma. which clinicians label Complex Trauma, refers to various categories  of interpersonal betrayal, and/or what clinicians describe as Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs).

The National Child Traumatic Stress Network  defines complex trauma "as exposure to multiple traumatic  events that occur within the family and community systems. These might include maltreatment  or bullying by a peer or sibling, or harsh aggressive child punishment, or the witnessing of ongoing domestic violence. Other family stressors, like alcoholism or mental illness in a parent, represent adverse circumstances, along with  various forms of ongoing abuse, maltreatment or neglect that can contrunte  are also examples of Complex Trauma.

As many as 50% of children will experience some form of trauma before their 18th birthday.

Yet few will receive the trauma based assessments required, to determine the extent and nature of their trauma behaviors and symptoms, and  appropriate treatment options. Instead children who have suffered, or  continue to suffer from  complex trauma, are often misdiagnosed as suffering from  numerous other mental health disorders, when trauma is the primary concern.Typical misdiagnoses may include Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, Oppositional Defiant Disorder or an  anxiety disorder. Each of these disorders, share some of the symptoms that typify those that present in a post traumatic stress disorder.

Childhood Trauma Symptoms

Childhood trauma symptoms, whatever their root, comprise a range of behavioral, social and emotional concerns that are associated with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). In addition, children who suffer from trauma may show various psychological problems and concerns. They may be diagnosed with a range of disorders, such as depression, anxiety or ADHD, and various other impulse control or executive function issues.They may show avoidant and/or fearful behaviors, as well as externalizing acting out aggressive behaviors.

Whether the trauma stems from a single acute traumatic event, or more chronic, ongoing traumatic events,  the cognitive, behavioral, emotional and social symptoms that result are similar. Children who have experienced, and/or are experiencing  trauma, for example, may show problems with  concentration and attention, emotional and behavioral regulation, and high levels  of physiological arousal.

Help for Child Trauma

Dr. O'Connor offers trauma based psychological assessments. Children who suffer from childhood trauma are likely to benefit from a trauma based psychological assessment  to determine the nature and extent of the child's trauma related symptoms, and their impact on her functioning at home, at school and in the community. 

To learn about Dr. O'Connor's psychological assessments, including her trauma based assessments for children and adolescents, click here.

Dr. O'Connor's trauma based psychological assessments lead to evidence based treatment strategies to address the child's trauma symptoms. 

Learn more about Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and its association with mental health disorders, like substance abuse. This is a problem that plagues millions of families,  and the children and adolescents who are growing up in them.