People with Developmental Disabilities and Traumatic Stress

Useful resources are available from the NYU Child Study Center on “Helping children with developmental disabilities cope with traumatic events“.

The National Child Traumatic Stress Network has a wealth of resources available on trauma and they are continually adding more. One notable example is their publication, “Facts on Traumatic Stress and Children with Developmental Disabilities”.

Statement Regarding Newtown, CT Tragedy

Like the rest of the nation, the Devereux family is heartbroken by the tragic and utterly senseless shooting in Newtown, CT last Friday.  It seems so feeble in the context of such trauma, but our thoughts and prayers are truly with the parents, the children, the school staff and the community.  We so wish that there was something, anything, we could do to comfort them.  In trying to think of something useful to say, something that would provide all of us with a positive way of responding, my thoughts went back to the core protective factors we advocate for in children:

Attachment/Relationships – nothing is more important to all of us, children and adults alike, at this time than knowing that others care for us and about us.  We all know of the need to provide assurance to the children, but let’s also express our compassion for the parents throughout our nation who may be anxious to send their children to school and the school staff who may feel overwhelmed by their responsibility for the children.

Self-Regulation– although we all feel sorrow, it is important not to be overwhelmed by our feelings.  We should all make an extra effort in the coming weeks to take care of ourselves through reflection, meditation, prayer, or the like. We need to acknowledge our feelings, but to stay focused on keeping ourselves together, and maintaining the normal rhythms and routines of life. This is especially important for our children – that they see that the adults that they depend on can acknowledge their feelings, but can cope effectively.

Initiative – Finally, we all have to ask ourselves what we can do as parents, teachers, and community members to make the world safer for children. And then we need to commit to action.

The staff at the Devereux Center for Resilient Children have devoted their careers to helping children build resilience so they can bounce back from adversity, but no child, no family, and no community should ever have to bounce back from events like those in Newtown.

Resources are available to help us best understand how to support children and one and other in these tragic situations.  Following are links to such resources:

Resources for Dealing with Traumatic Events in Schools from CSMH

National Association for School Psychologists

National Child Traumatic Stress Network

Disaster Distress Helpline Offers Immediate Crisis Counseling  Sponsored by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), the Helpline immediately connects callers to trained and caring professionals from the closest crisis counseling center in the nationwide network of centers. Helpline staff will provide confidential counseling, referrals, and other needed support services. Call 1-800-985-5990 or text “TalkWithUs” to 66746.