Not sure where to begin?
- Visit our sections on understanding Attachment and Trauma to get a better foundation of the causes and symptoms of these disorders.
- Join ATN — the VOICE for traumatized children and their families. ATN parent members get the best in online, moderated support 24/7 as well as our Therapeutic Parenting Journal. Membership is free for parents raising a child with attachment/trauma issues and a nominal fee for extended family and supporters.
- Sign up for an ATN Online Support Group of your choice and reach out — you will find experienced therapeutic parents there to help you. (Support groups are exclusive to ATN members.)
- Check out our Provider Listings to find a local trauma-informed, attachment-focused therapist or treatment center to help your child and your family.
- In crisis? Email or call us for more support.
Don’t forget to take care of the MOST important person in your child’s life…YOU!
We encourage all parents of traumatized children to seek trauma-sensitive and attachment-focused professional therapy for their children. Information on this website or support from other ATN members cannot replace professional therapy. We do not endorse specific therapists or treatment modalities. Please note that these listings, while frequently updated, do not provide “real-time” data.
- ATN’s Professional Members and Professional Organizations — therapists, organizations and others who work with traumatized children and their families and believe in ATN’s mission
- Internet Therapists, Parent Coaches, Respite Providers
- Residential Treatment Centers
- Professionals by Location (United States, Canada and United Kingdom)
The information provided on this website should not be considered an endorsement. All parents should thoroughly research their options and ask for references.
Our Voices: Touching Trauma at its Heart
Touching Trauma at Its Heart is a blog written by Attachment & Trauma Network’s voices: a collection of parents, professionals and volunteers who represent a variety of perspectives and experiences related to attachment issues and the effect of trauma on children and on families.
Unfortunately, many families with traumatized children feel isolated and without hope or solutions. Many, but not all, have received diagnoses of Reactive Attachment Disorder (“RAD”), Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (“PTSD”), anxiety or developmental trauma disorder and are given little understanding by those they approach for help. We have created Touching Trauma at Its Heart to support families by providing a window into the ATN community and the thousands of families struggling with these issues. We also hope to educate the media, clinicians and others about individual experiences, and to advocate for a greater understanding of attachment issues and trauma in children and in families. We hope that our blog will inspire and foster dialogue; please join us in the conversation!
The content provided is for informational purposes only and is not intended to substitute for professional, medical or other types of advice or treatment. The opinions expressed by the regular and guest bloggers and those providing comments are theirs alone, and do not reflect ATN’s opinions, or those of ATN’s employees, volunteers or Board. ATN is not responsible for the accuracy of any of the information supplied by the regular or guest bloggers. For more information, email us with any questions, comments, or concerns.
Online Support Groups
ATN’s Support Groups are PRIVATE and MODERATED by experienced therapeutic parents. ATN started as a support group 20 years ago and, today, we continue to provide 24/7 support via these groups. Based on information that you provide, ATN will place you in a Group that best meets your needs based on age of the child and the severity of the issues.
Currently, for ATN Members, we have private Yahoo Groups and a “secret” Facebook Group where you can go for advice, venting, support, questions, and to provide advice, support, and answers from your own experience. Rest assured these groups are the best place for peer-to-peer support online.
At this time, we only have support groups for families providing primary care to a child with attachment and trauma issues. We hope to be upgrading our system in the near future to add a forum for extended family not providing primary care, adults with trauma and attachment issues and professionals.
Parenting a traumatized child is very challenging and requires a more focused, trained approach than parenting emotionally healthy children. Traumatized children frequently show signs of emotional delay, often acting much younger than their chronological age. Behaviors can range from being withdrawn and non-responsive to aggressive and violent. Responses to typical parenting techniques, such as time out or removal of privileges are often surprising, and parents’ frustration to the child’s opposition can inadvertently cause the behaviors to escalate.
The most important thing you can do to help your child heal is arm yourself with tools and training, and seek to understand the causes behind your child’s behaviors. ATN recommends that you find an experienced trauma-sensitive, attachment-focused therapist to work with your child and your family. But, therapy is only part of the answer. Since you are the person with your child every day and the person to whom your child should bond, it is imperative that you receive the training and understanding of the effects of trauma on attachment and what to do to help promote safety and trust for all family members. We suggest that you proactively educate yourself in therapeutic parenting strategies and techniques. You can learn this specialized parenting by:
- Attending conferences, workshops, and seminars, including ATN’s online seminars.
- Reading books about attachment & trauma. See ATN’s reading recommendations.
- Joining ATN and one of our Online Support Group for 24/7 access to peer-to-peer support and coaching.
Support at School
Early Childhood Trauma significantly impairs a child’s ability to learn, and is often not recognized by educators. At ATN we advocate for system-wide Trauma Sensitive Schools as the best environment for all children, and especially those experiencing early childhood trauma, to learn. However, there are many schools and educators who are not familiar with the impact of trauma and attachment challenges on learning. We offer the following resources to help to families as they explain the impact of trauma and attachment disorders to their local school systems:
Training for Educators
ATN’s Trauma-Sensitive Schools Task Force is devoted to creating school-wide trauma-sensitive reform. Our experienced educators and those with expertise in attachment trauma are working together to develop Professional Development Programs For Educators to help them…
- Understand the effects of early childhood trauma and/or separation on neurobiological development;
- Learn how early trauma impacts learning and behavior;
- Discover the motivation behind students’ behaviors by using Trauma-Informed Behavioral Assessments;
- Learn instructional strategies that help to heal the neurobiological impact of early childhood trauma;
- Explore classroom strategies that develop resiliency and improve learning outcomes for ALL children; and
- Develop Trauma-Sensitive school-wide approaches to discipline.
Professional Development Training can be done with any size group of teachers, paraprofessionals, administrators, counselors, social workers, resource officers and/or parents. ATN’s Task Force is also available for short and long term consultation and strategic planning. Download our brochure for more information or contact Melissa Sadin, MAT, M.Ed. or Jen Alexander, MA, SB-RPT.
Get your educators started with these Specific Strategies for School Personnel:
- MindUP – a research-based training program that teaches social and emotional learning skills that link cognitive neuroscience, positive psychology and mindful awareness training utilizing a brain centric approach.
- Sound Discipline – a website for both parents and educators about the practice of Positive Discipline. Free newsletter articles and resources.
- Navigating Uncharted Waters – an article for School Psychologists about International Adopted Children – Dr. Boris Gindis
- FuelEd Schools – training in social/emotional competency and teaching empathy, as well as exploring teachers’ attachment styles
- MeMoves – a patented system for teaching self-regulation using music, images and movement. Both home versions and school versions are available
Trauma Resource Literature
- ATN’s Handout on Childhood Trauma’s Impact on Learning
- Helping Traumatized Children Learn- Massachusetts Advocates for Children
- How to Help a Traumatized Child in the Classroom — article by Joyce Dorado, Director of UCSF’s HEARTS program
- Help for Billy — book by Heather Forbes, LCSW, of Beyond Consequences Institute
- Children of Trauma: What Educators Need to Know — Kathleen Benckendorf, a former ATN Board Member, wrote this very comprehensive article for the National Council for Adoption’s Advocate publication. (2013)
- Trauma-Informed Approach to Behaviors in the Classroom — free open letter to teachers from Robyn Gobbel, LCSW
Attachment Disorder/RAD Resource Literature
- Oil and Water: The Attachment Disordered Child in School — Lawrence B. Smith, LCSW, Attachment Disorder Maryland and ATN Board Member
- Minnesota Association of Children’s Mental Health Fact Sheet on Students with RAD
- Open Letter to Educators — written by Carey McGinn, Ed.D, CCC/SLP, through the Attachment Institute of New England
- School Interventions that Don’t Work with Children who have Attachment Disorders — Attachment Disorder Maryland
Special Education Resource Literature
- Center for Cognitive-Developmental Assessment and Remediation — Dr. Boris Gindis in New York City
This site deals specifically with the psycho-educational issues of older internationally adopted children.
- Definitions of Disabilities/Eligibilities for Special Education from US Dept of Education website.
- Learning Disabilities Association of America
- LD Online — The Educator’s Guide to Learning Disabilities and ADHD
- PACER Center
- TASH — an international disability advocate for fully inclusive schools, workplaces and communities
- Wrightslaw—Special Education Advocate — comprehensive site for parents to learn about special education, IEPs and IDEA
In Crisis? No Hope?
Many of the families who find their way to ATN are in crisis. They are adoptive (or foster) parents who are parenting children with very difficult behaviors and emotional damage. Some knew before they opened their homes to these children that there would be special needs; others were caught totally unaware, either through lack of agency disclosure or through the parents’ own inability to “hear” the risks.
Regardless, ATN is here to help. We believe in the vast majority of these families, when parents are given the right support, education and access to therapies/interventions, they are able to make great strides in the healing of traumatized children and those with attachment disorder. This is why ATN exists – to link parents with support and educational resources, including other families, therapists and professionals.
However, we would be turning a blind eye to many struggling families if we did not acknowledge that sometimes removing the child from the home is necessary. Sometimes placing a child in a residential treatment center or long-term facility or seeking to disrupt or dissolve an adoption are the only viable options. Safety of all family members is always the primary concern.
We encourage all parents to seek the following prior to pursuing a course of disruption/dissolution:
- Post-adoption support services/education through your adoption agency (to the extent that these programs exist).
- Parent support group(s) such as the online groups ATN offers, or the local resources in our database.
- Therapeutic interventions by professionals experienced in dealing with children with attachment disorder, trauma and adoption/foster issues.
- Medication and/or other interventions as recommended by therapists and doctors familiar with the child and with attachment disorder and co-existing conditions.
- Legal advice on dissolutions and disruptions from an adoption attorney who can advise you as to the specific legal and financial ramifications of this decision for you and your family.
- Respite. Often families need a “break” from living daily with a severely emotionally damaged child in order to “think through” their options in parenting this child.
ATN maintains a Crisis Phone Line, 888-656-9806. It is a “warm line” as opposed to a staffed “hot line”, so you may have to leave a message. Your call will be returned within 24 hours. You may also email us. Our phone and email support are staffed by parents of traumatized children who can provide you peer support and suggest the resources we know of that may help your situation.