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Trauma, Development, and Co-Morbidity: Clinical Presentations and Diagnostic Challenges

About the Course:

Early trauma—especially chronic—affects children’s development. Maltreatment, invasive medical treatments, domestic violence, accidents, disasters, grief, loss, war, terror, and many developmental issues: all place children at a high risk for attachment issues, frustration, overwhelm, and distress. Children have limited ability to verbalize distress. Therefore they often communicate it in behavior (and misbehavior), in how they relate to others, how they react, respond, remember, and learn. Traumatized children often present with difficulties in attending and learning, as well as with behavioral and social issues. They are more likely to require Special Education, repeat grades, drop out of school, get in trouble, and be diagnosed with mental-illness. What further complicates the picture is that children who have some form of childhood disability (communication disorders, physical limitations, developmental delays, sensory sensitivities, etc.) can have similar clinical presentations and that as a group these children are at very high risk for maltreatment, behavior issues, and posttraumatic stress.

Trauma can have profound impact on children’s development and clinical presentation. When trauma is not directly assessed, children can accumulate hosts of diagnoses: ADHD, Bipolar Disorder, Autism, Auditory-Processing-Disorder, Conduct Disorder, Childhood Psychosis, and more. Misdiagnosis and missed diagnoses can lead to ineffective intervention, increased frustration, and added need for dissociation. Awareness to the fact duress affects children has improved in recent years, but many professionals remain uncertain about how to differentiate symptoms and behaviors from underlying causes, about the particular ways children communicate distress, and how to address these needs.

This presentation will detail some of the ways trauma affects development, and how traumatic aftermath manifests in the behaviors, abilities, and communication of children. The challenges of differential diagnosis, co-morbidity, and primary versus secondary issues will be discussed, and possible ‘rules of thumb’ guidelines will be offered. Case study vignettes and quotes will be used to elucidate the relationship and complexity of trauma, development, behavior, communication, and differential diagnosis.

This course is based on the recorded webinar, Trauma, Development, and Co-Morbidity: Clinical Presentations and Diagnostic Challenges created by Na’ama Yehuda, MSC, SLP in 2018.



Publication Date:

April 2018

Course Material Author

Na'ama Yehuda, MSC, SLP

Na’ama Yehuda, MSC, SLP, is a speech-language pathologist and audiologist with over 25 years’ experience. A clinician in private practice, she consulted for the New York City Department of Education; provides international professional development and consultations on communication, language, trauma, and development; and is the author of the book, “Communicating Trauma” and several other publications on the topic. She was elected to serve on the boards of directors of the Israeli Speech Hearing Language Association (ISHLA) and the International Society for the Study of Trauma and Dissociation (ISSTD), chaired and volunteers on taskforces and committees, and co-chairs the Child and Adolescent Committee of ISSTD. She also writes and publishes fiction.

Course Creator


These questions were created by staff and volunteers at ISSTD.

Recommended For:

Counselors, marriage and family therapists, psychologists and social workers. This course is appropriate for intermediate levels of knowledge.

Course Objectives:

  1. List three ways chronic stress affects development

  2. Identify two diagnostic challenges in assessing traumatized children

  3. Discuss common co-morbidities in traumatized children

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American Academy of Health Care Providers in the Addictive Disorders (AAHCPAD)

1.5 CE Credit hour

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American Psychological Association (APA)

1.5 CE Credit hour

CE Learning Systems is approved by the American Psychological Association to sponsor continuing education for psychologists. CE Learning Systems maintains responsibility for this program and its content.

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Commission on Dietetic Registration (CDR)

1.5 CE Credit hour

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National Association of School Psychologists (NASP)

1.5 CPD hour

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Materials for Course

This material is available to purchase for $45. For your convenience, has arranged with ISSTD to make it available for purchase right here. » More info

Exam Questions

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Course Number 102273
1.5 credit hour
Log in for credit hours relevant to your licensure.

  • Recorded Webinar
Exam Fee: $8.96 No exam fee with a membership package!
4.6 out of 5
5 members have taken this course


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