Alma’s Volunteer Corner: There’s Always More to Learn

Dec18Did you know that over 21% of foster care alumni suffer from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), a rate that is higher than that of U.S. war veterans?

Last week, I attended an interesting CASA continuing education event regarding foster children and PTSD.
As a CASA volunteer, we are required to have 12 hours of Continuing Education (CE) credits each year. Volunteers can acquire these credits in a number of ways including reading books, watching films, attending seminars and getting additional training through CASA. This seminar was presented by Ruth Bischel, a licensed psychologist who also fosters, and has adopted, numerous children who have had very difficult backgrounds.

I was amazed by some of the things I learned from Dr. Bischel. For example:

  • For children who struggle with PTSD, their brain may be running 82 times faster than other kids.
  • Children learn to cover the trauma to prevent themselves from appearing weak. They may act out as a form of self-defense.
  • When kids experience neglect, they think they are to blame for not being cared for by their parent. They are unable to consciously blame their parents for the neglect.
  • Some kids with PTSD may struggle with reading facial expressions so they cannot tell when others are upset, scared, frustrated, etc.
  • PTSD can cause long-term physical issues into adulthood like chronic pain.
  • Sometimes when children relive the trauma, they mentally detach to protect themselves and it can appear that they are not paying attention or are ignoring you and not listening. It’s a way to protect themselves.
  • They can forget a lot. They can be told to do something then immediately forget.
  • A person is not their behavior. It’s important to remember that a behavior is acceptable or unacceptable, not good or bad.

This was my first continuing education event with CASA and it was extremely informative. In addition to helping with issues that might affect the children I work with, this seminar helped broaden my understanding about PTSD in general.