Research and clinical data at STARTTS indicate that 0-5 year olds are impacted directly by traumatising events and acts of war around them, and also by the impact of the parents’ post-traumatic symptoms on attachment. The impact can be expressed as delays or problems in all areas of their development. Without early intervention these issues can affect the child’s long term mental health and wellbeing.
Biopsychosocial and systemic interventions can address the interconnecting trauma within the dyad. The aim of interventions is to enhance the child’s trauma recovery and development, as well as providing the necessary parent support and psychoeducation.
Perceptions of refugee communities on the impact of trauma on their 0-5 year olds, collected in an ethics approved Community Based Participatory Research project, will be compared with clinical early childhood data. It will be seen that trauma can affect the child’s development in all areas. This in turn will demonstrate the imperative for addressing the rehabilitation and preventive health needs of very young children from refugee backgrounds.
Strategies grounded in attachment and trauma theory, neuroplasticity, early intervention, and understanding of contextual factors, will be related to addressing the jigsaw puzzle of multiple traumatic experiences and contexts to which the very young child is exposed. The child’s trauma, including experience of implicit traumatic memory and disruptions in attachment, may be manifest in health issues, behaviours, reactions, drawings and play. These can in turn trigger the parent’s own traumatic memories of past situations in which they were helpless to protect their child.
This interplay of these post traumatic symptoms, stressors and developmental challenges provides another indicator for the necessity for remediation and prevention of further sequelae to the trauma.
De-identified case vignettes will be used to illustrate the complexities involved in addressing these imperatives.
The paper will highlight the necessity, challenges and complexities of addressing the needs of this age group in family and community settings.
The paper will challenge the listeners to consider how they may be able to address the needs of 0-5 year olds with their families, in their own work setting.
This will enable them to reflect on the imperative as well as the right for 0-5 year olds to be offered a range of community based or centre based services to enhance the children’s trauma recovery and development and prevention of lifelong emotional, social and psychological problems.
Funding & No Conflicts Declaration