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Early trauma has lasting effects

Date published: 6/15/2014

Early trauma has lasting effects

June 19 marks National Attachment Trauma Awareness Day, a time for awareness of children having a difficult start in life.

Many experienced early neglect or abuse and end up in foster care, with some eventually adopted by a new family.

Some are orphans from faraway places, while others may have needed painful medical procedures or were separated from their parents for health reasons.

Yet in nearly all cases, the lasting effects of trauma remain, easily misunderstood by those outside the home. In fact, some children struggle with the impact of this early trauma throughout life.

The research is clear. The first years of life are incredibly important to all children.

Because infants cannot care for themselves, parents play a huge role in nurturing. And in the process, a beautiful thing unfolds, as has happened for centuries.

Babies attach to their caregivers in a healthy way. They grow close and learn to trust the world around them--with their brains continually stimulated and emotionally healthy.

But when that crucial beginning is full of uncertainty, babies are stressed and fail to develop a secure attachment. Instead, they learn the world isn't a safe place. Left to fend for themselves, antisocial behavior takes root and swells unless a parent focuses on healing and breaks the cycle.

With the need for treatment through post-adoptive services greater than ever, families who open their hearts to children at risk must have access. All children deserve to feel safe.

National Attachment Trauma Awareness (NATA) Day shines the light on children's struggle with early attachment trauma and the need for comprehensive treatment of complex trauma and attachment disorders.

Kenneth Fowler