For centuries, we have known that war, abuse, natural disasters, and unexpected loss and death profoundly changes people and that women, children, the elderly, and, of particular relevance to this book, children with developmental disabilities are the ones who are most likely to be victimized. Yet it is only within the last 25 years that we have begun to explore the overlapping features of what are currently known as trauma- and stressor-related disorders (TSRD) and neurodevelopmental disorders (NDD)—a category that subsumes the highly prevalent and widely known attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), autism spectrum disorder (ASD), intellectual disability (ID), learning disabilities (LD), and disorders of speech, communication, and motor functioning. At first glance, these diagnostic families seem to have a mirror-image relationship: Both have pervasive effects on the brain and development; but NDD are assumed to be present from birth (and thus mostly hereditary), whereas TSRD require an external traumatic event (or events) to activate a characteristic storm of reexperiencing, emotional avoidance and numbing, hyperarousal/hypervigilance, negative cognitions about oneself and one’s future, disordered attachment, and even dissociation—the psychic defense of disconnecting from reality.
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