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Clinic at the Royal Children's Hospital

A traumatic event is an experience that threatens someone’s sense of physical or psychological safety, such as a serious accident, injury or illness; experiencing or witnessing violence; or a natural/human-made disaster. After trauma, most children experience some initial distress and/or behavioural changes. For many children, difficulties subside over time, but others experience more persistent reactions that can affect their daily lives. These reactions are sometimes referred to as Post traumatic Stress Symptoms (PTSS), or Post traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

Signs that might indicate that your child is having difficulty coping following a traumatic event include:

  • Distressing thoughts or memories about what happened
  • Nightmares
  • Worrying a lot about safety (their own or others’) 
  • Regression in behaviour (e.g. clinginess; separation difficulties; toileting accidents)
  • Emotional changes (e.g., fear, worry, sadness, guilt, shame, irritability)
  • Withdrawal or avoidance
  • Concentration problems
  • Seeming “jumpy” or on “high alert”
  • Sleep difficulties
  • Physical aches or pains (e.g., stomach aches, headaches) without a known medical cause

It may be helpful to consult with a professional if your child is experiencing post-traumatic changes such as these, and seems to be having difficulty in one or more areas of life (e.g., friendships, schoolwork, or family life).

The following practitioners at CPMG can be of service in evaluating and managing trauma/post-traumatic stress in children and adolescents:

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