For the first 52 years of my life, I had no idea children could struggle with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). But in 2008 when my son, age 26, was diagnosed with this mental illness, I learned the truth. PTSD in children is real, and my son had been living with it for 26 years. His PTSD began when he had surgery less than a day after he was born.
“He won’t remember,” the doctors told us.
But, deep in his implicit memory, our son did remember. And though he’s gone through successful treatment and has learned to cope with the memories of the trauma he experienced as an infant, those memories will always be with him. He will never forget them.
The truth about PTSD in children won’t let me rest.
So today, which is PTSD Awareness Day, I am climbing onto my soapbox again. Just as I did a year ago. Just like I will next year and for many years to come. Because even though I and many others speak about PTSD in children frequently, and even though my book Does My Child Have PTSD? has been published and is widely available, too many children with PTSD go undiagnosed.
That is the sad truth about PTSD in children.
But the truth gets even sadder. The truth is that many children are correctly diagnosed with PTSD, but they aren’t treated. For a variety of reasons. Many parents can’t find qualified trauma therapists. Many parents delay treatment because they think they can’t afford it.
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