What is Developmental Trauma

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Developmental trauma is the exposure to adverse experiences such as violence, abuse, neglect and separation from a caregiver repeatedly over time and during critical periods in a child’s development.  It is sometimes referred to as complex trauma.  It is complex because there are at least two problems that occur together: the problem of exposure to negative experiences and the inability of the young child to adapt to those negative experiences.


Developmental trauma, because of its impact on the brain at a critical time, can affect a child’s development and result in delays in speech and language, sensory processing,  social skills, and motor skills.  A child may be unable to cope with the sensory input in the environment (such as smells, noises, touches, movement, and visual stimuli). Consequently, the child becomes easily overwhelmed and over-reactive – often exhibiting severe “temper tantrums,” sleep and eating disturbances, hyperactivity, or difficulty processing language.  In turn, these types of behaviors significantly impact a child’s quality of life and the ability to form relationships with parents or caregivers. Ultimately, the child’s delays and maladaptive responses impact the whole family.


Connections for Life addresses all these problems by providing an integrative program where all the experts are present in treatment at the same time: caregiver, behavioral health therapist, occupational therapist, and speech and language pathologist, working to improve everyday life for the child and the family.  


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