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    Overcoming Childhood Adversities

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    Does a traumatic childhood affect a person forever?

    Why do some people do well despite a traumatic childhood while others seem to be affected by it very poorly?

    What factors distinguish between those who do well and those who do not?

    Use scholarly sources to support your answers. Cite your references using APA format

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    Traumatic events or childhood adversities can come in many forms, such as: child abuse, automobile accidents, bullying, neglect, injuries, loss of a loved one, and abandonment. Child abuse and neglect affect more than 5.5 million children per year. Children who have been exposed to trauma and neglect show signs such as fear of strangers, fear of leaving parents, sleep problems, bad dreams, may repeat or act out their trauma through their play, may lose skills they once had, and may be more fussy or irritable (1). Early trauma affects the child's nervous system because the nervous system is shaped by early childhood experiences. These early stresses, especially if continued, can lead to changes in the parts of the brain that control and manage a person's feelings; therefore, early childhood stress can in fact change the brain, which in turn can have long-term effects on a person's emotional, mental, and physical growth. Trauma as a young child can also extend into adolescence, and adulthood (1).

    If a child is removed from an abusive environment, and is able to bond with a caregiver who is in tune with the child's needs, the child begins to feel secure. If a caregiver is able to build an attachment with the child, the child will be more likely to be able to control their emotions and thoughts, because a child looks to their caregivers to guide how they should respond to events in their lives, how to manage behaviors, and how to act with others (1).

    When a person experiences trauma or abuse the body begins to produce abnormal levels of cortisol and epinephrine, which prepares the body for the fight or flight response. If a child is treated and receives help by either being removed from the situation, receiving counseling, or learning strategies of coping with the use of cognitive-behavioral therapy, the likelihood of the trauma affecting them later in life is reduced (2). By receiving this type of treatment, it can help the body to return to producing the normal levels of stress hormones, and will help to alleviate any further damage to the body; however, if the child does not receive the help needed, the body will continue to create an abnormal level and can cause severe physical, psychology, and emotional disturbances (2). It is important for the child to receive the correct diagnosis and help needed in order to overcome the obstacles that have caused the stress or trauma.

    There are specific risk factors and protective factors that can affect how well or how poorly a person deals with traumatic events (3).

    Risk factors include:

    1. The length of time exposed to stressful or traumatic situation.

    2. The number of other stressors experienced at the same time.

    3. Lack of social support. Research shows that those with low social support are 4 times more likely to experience traumatization and 2.5 times more likely to experience so form of physical illness, as opposed to those with better social support.

    4. Temperament and personality. If a person is habitually negative, they are more vulnerable to reacting more intensely to stressful situations and events.

    5. Previous psychiatric illness.

    6. The type of trauma.

    Protective factors include:

    1. Social support.

    2. Optimism and self-esteem. Having an optimistic outlook, positive emotions, and a healthy self-esteem encourages resilience.

    3. Spirituality. Having meaning, purpose, and hope for the future can be an effective protective factor.

    4. Adaptability. Being flexible and able to adapt to various situations can also help.

    5. Resourcefulness.

    (1) http://www.ptsd.va.gov/public/pages/very_young_trauma_survivors.asp

    (2) http://kidshealth.org/parent/positive/talk/ptsd.html#

    (3) http://www.headington-institute.org/Default.aspx?tabid=2076

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    Denise (111799)

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