Trauma Through the Eyes of a Child

Trauma Through the Eyes of Child

By Melissa McCarthy, ICC Parent Representative Central Region

Melissa McCarthyThis year’s ICC retreat brought me insight into the world of trauma…trauma, from a child’s view, and how it impacts his/her behavior and perception of the world. Trauma can come from many different experiences. In this article I will speak about the medical piece of Trauma.

My son like many children with chronic medical conditions has tests, procedures, and medical upsets that can be extremely intimidating and scary for both parent and child. As a child, he does not have the words to string together to express his fears or explain his behaviors. As parents we do the best we can to soothe our babies and let them know we are there and understand what they are going through, but honestly, we don’t. Testing, blood work, and procedures are things that have to be done. We know as parents it is necessary, but as children they fear the person who is making these demands of them, and worry about what is going to happen next, and why it hurts. I speak only as a parent in this matter and not a medical professional, but as the person who holds her child and sees his strengths and struggles. I also would like to speak of the reflective piece of trauma. As my youngest son goes through these many medical events, his older brother watches with concern and uncertainty of what exactly is going on. My oldest tries to take in what he can to understand, but he worries and wonders at times, scared as to what is happening to his brother and when his parents will return from the hospital.

My youngest son is 4 years old and unlike “typical” 4 year old boys he has had many challenges that he has had to face. His strength and courage inspires me. Well visits and check-ups are routine events that each child will typically experience. In the case of my son, it has become more frequent appointments, tests, and blood work. Doctors are human and approach children in varying ways. As parents, we know how important the doctor’s approach is and how challenging their requests can be. We have been asked to “hold him down,” “quiet him down,” “stop him from kicking.” How can you stop a child from expressing his fears in whatever way he can? Along this journey, our son has also received a diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder. We explain that he is our 0-60 kiddo. I am not saying that his diagnosis is not legitimate; however, after hearing Dr. Marilyn Augustyn speak on how trauma symptoms can sometimes mimic autism, I am starting to wonder. Dr. Augustyn stated, “5 out of 100 children are hospitalized for major, acute, or chronic illness.” Seeing these numbers and reading medical journals that state that the numbers for Autism continue to grow sends a red flag to the autism community. More attention and exploration in this area needs to be done as we sort out exactly what is going on with our son.