Helping Kids with TBI and PTSD

PTSD in adults tends to be a little different because kids tend to be more prone to being sort of disorganized and scattered, so they won't look or be able to explain their responding to the situation with being helpless or horrified or overwhelmed. Kids will just look sort of unraveled. Sometimes they'll look like they don't care. They'll seem scattered and all over the place or inappropriately running around and joking. It's almost like they start popping springs or blowing a fuse, and you can sort of see them no longer computing. They almost need the little computer hourglass that says, "Not processing." They just become sort of disorganized, scattered, and all over the map. They also generally don't tell you about what they're feeling or thinking. You'll see it in play because part of what kids do is they learn by play. So they'll often replay the scenario with dolls or toys or draw part of it over and over, and that's how you'll see it come out-- that and in nightmares. Often they will lose skills that they used to have. So kids who were having a dry bed stop being able to have a dry bed or they become clingy and suddenly you're having trouble getting them back into their bed when they were doing pretty well with that before.

Children with TBI and PTSD often reveal how they are truly coping through play, nightmares, or when they regress in developmental milestones.

Nadia Webb

Nadia Webb, PsyD runs the Pediatric Neuropsychology Post-Doctoral Program at Children's Hospital of New Orleans in addition to maintaining a small private practice. She is the executive director of the American Board of Pediatric Neuropsychology. 

Posted on BrainLine August 28, 2012.

Produced by Krystal Klingenberg, Justin Rhodes, and Jared Schaubert, BrainLine.