Developmental Trauma Disorder has been proposed for inclusion in DSM-V (due to be published in 2013). This would provide a comprehensive lens through which to view the behaviors of children who have experienced trauma during their early lives.
Risk Factors for developing the disorder include: multiple traumas or chronic exposure to traumatic experiences, such as neglect, abandonment, violence or any form of social, emotional, psychological, physical, or sexual abuse. Also, having multiple changes in primary care givers in early childhood.
Typical symptoms include the following:
· Being unable to cope with, manage and regulate strong emotions
· Being hypervigilant and over-reacting to minor or benign stimuli
· Outbursts of anger and rage/ serious temper tantrums
· Disturbances in regulation of normal bodily functions (sleeping, eating, and elimination)
· Sensory over or under-reactivity
· Experiencing dissociation
· Being out of touch with/ unable to experience emotions
· Symptoms associated with ADHD
· Engaging in self harm, excessive thrill-seeking or risk-taking behaviours
· Demonstrating maladaptive self-soothing behaviours (such as lying in a foetal position, rocking and compulsive masturbation)
· Being unable to initiate or sustain goal-directed behavior
· In childhood and adolescence, assuming the role and responsibilities of the parent (parental role reversal)
· Extremely poor self image and low self esteem
· An inability to trust others
· Over react to displays of physical or verbal aggression
· Inappropriate physical or emotional intimacy
· Lack of empathy for others.
Note: Often these traits will continue into adult life.