The jargon associated with childhood trauma can be confusing. This post eases the confusion by defining trauma, PTSD, and childhood developmental trauma.

As was mentioned in the first post in this series, my first acquaintance with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in children was not intentional. Rather, I stumbled into the world of childhood trauma in 2008 after our son was diagnosed with and treated for his PTSD, the result of repeated, invasive medical trauma that began shortly after birth and continued until he was five.

At the clinic where our 26-year-old son was treated, the therapists devote a considerable amount of time to educating the family members and caregivers of their clients about the condition. The basic information they presented piqued my curiosity so much that, once our son completed his therapy, I began my own research about PTSD in children. That research eventually resulted in a book, Does My Child Have PTSD? What to Do When Your Child Is Hurting from the Inside Out (Familius, October 2015).

Between the initial research and the writing of the book, however, I spent a considerable amount of time swimming in a sea of confusion. Confusion caused by diving into the waters of the relatively new field of study–PTSD in children–where the professional jargon about it seemed to constantly changing. The water teemed with a dizzying array terms such as “trauma,” “PTSD,” “childhood trauma,” and “childhood developmental trauma.” Eventually I created three questions and answers to assist parents like me–and perhaps like you–who want to better understand children who live with trauma.

What Is Trauma?

Dr. Peter A. Levine and Maggie Kline, authors of Trauma-Proofing Your Kids: A Parents’ Guide for Instilling Confidence, Joy and Resilience, describe trauma as an intense experience that suddenly overwhelms a child. In other words, trauma is an event that shocks children and overwhelms them. It takes away their sense of security and control. Without treatment, the “feeling of overwhelm” affects the rest of the child’s life and experiences.

To read the rest of this post, please visit the Key Ministry blog at AChurch4EveryChild.

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Part 1: Writing About PTSD Was Not on My Bucket List
Part 2: Childhood Trauma by Any Other Name Is Still Traumatic
Part 3: 10 Myths about PTSD in Children
Part 4: What Causes PTSD in Children
Part 5: A Look Inside the Brain’s Response to Childhood Trauma
Part 6: Why the Spotlight Is on PTSD in Children
Part 7: Childhood PTSD Symptoms in Tots, Teens, and In Between
Part 8: Why and How Childhood PTSD Is often Misdiagnosed
Part 9: Effective Treatment of PTSD in Children
Part 10: How to Prevent PTSD in Traumatized Children
Part 11: How Parents Can Advocate Effectively for Traumatized Children
Part 12: 4 Reasons Traumatized Kids Need Mentally Healthy Parents
Part 13: Clinging to Faith While Parenting Children with PTSD

The jargon associated with childhood trauma can be confusing. This post eases the confusion by defining trauma, PTSD, and childhood developmental trauma.