Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

Children with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) have experienced an extremely upsetting or life-threatening event, and they continue to periodically relive the experience in their minds with full emotional involvement. Since information that comes through our senses is so often tied to specific memories and emotions, the cues for an episode of PTSD are often sensory. In addition, children with PTSD may become hyperreactive to things like noise or touch. The intense stress of this disorder can actually cause changes in the brain, which may make problems with sensory integration more likely.

If your child has been through a trauma, don't be afraid to talk with her about it. You may feel it's healthier for your child to forget about it, but she probably won't; she'll just hold the bad feelings in, and that will hurt more. Be a compassionate but nonjudgmental audience, and refrain from telling her to cheer up and feel better. For kids with PTSD, as with children with sensory integration disorder, having someone who will listen and understand is a major element of recovery.

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