Developmental experiences contribute to the condition of the brain when it matures, both in the way it is organized and the way it functions. Therefore, childhood trauma has a great impact on the way children function. There are many mental and physical responses to trauma, and two of them are the physiological responses known as hyperarousal and dissociation. Because of the fact that the brain organizes new information in a use-dependent fashion as it develops, the more the brain is in one of these states, the more likely the child is to develop neuropsychiatric symptoms. Over time, the adaptive state can develop into persistent, maladaptive traits.
Adults may misinterpret the behaviors and expressions of children because such information is interpreted through the filters of their belief symptoms. In most cases these misinterpretations are fairly benign, but in many instances they can become destructive. One of the most damaging situations occurs when the effect of a traumatic event on a child or infant is minimized.
It is ironic that adults presume infants and children are most resilient, when in fact, they are at the most vulnerable stage of development. In the last decade, billions of dollars were spent on the study and treatment of adult trauma victims. In comparison, the amount of resources devoted to research and the treatment of childhood trauma were minimal, with even less financial support focused on treating infant trauma.