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A Year After Katrina: Recognizing the Signs of PTSD in Children

Discussion in 'News, Politics & Debates' started by anthony, Aug 14, 2006.

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    Clinical Experts Recommend Heightened Awareness of Children's Behaviors to Anniversary

    As the first anniversary of Hurricane Katrina nears, clinical experts at Harcourt Assessment, Inc., a leading test developer and publisher, and associated psychologists suggest increasing awareness and identification of signs of Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) in children and youth, and quickly assessing the treatable disorder that stems from a significant traumatic event.

    Philip A. Saigh, Ph.D., a Professor of Psychology and Education at Teachers College, Columbia University, and author of the Children's PTSD Inventory, a PsychCorp brand diagnostic instrument published by Harcourt Assessment, Inc., said indicators of PTSD may include increased occurrence of traumatic thoughts, images, or nightmares; regression in children's behavior; increased irritability, anger, and feeling jumpy; and finding it hard to concentrate and do schoolwork. Children also may avoid visual triggers - activities, places, or people - that spark recollections of the trauma.

    "Clinicians and counselors may play a key role in helping parents and teachers by identifying children with PTSD," said Dr. Saigh. "In addition to indicators that are specific to the child's behavior, a key consideration for clinical experts is to understand that the absence of parental support is a risk factor for PTSD."

    Once diagnosed accurately, PTSD is treatable. Single case, group time series, and experimental studies have shown that cognitive behavioral interventions incorporating imaginal exposure techniques effectively reduced distress on a number of standardized tests with documented psychometric qualities.

    "It is normal for children to experience grief associated with the anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, but also may be a prime opportunity to see an emergence of PTSD among children and adolescents as they are faced with negative triggers, such as news footage from last year's storm damage and devastation, weather reports, back-to-school preparation, or other sensory input reminding children of past trauma," said Christina Sparks, Ph.D., clinical measurement consultant for Harcourt Assessments.

    Source: CSR Wire
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