Trauma-Informed, Resilience-Focused Assessment and Differential Diagnosis is available now. Below, Dr. Cae Soma explains the origins of this course.
How can one benefit from taking Trauma-Informed, Resilience-Focused Assessment and Differential Diagnosis (TIRFADD)?
TIRFADD begins to explain to professionals how and why mental health disorder symptoms and reactions we see can be misinterpreted. We call this “trauma in disguise”, and make critical connections through symptoms and reactions displayed by the child. These behaviors look and sound like other mental health disorders. What TIRFADD teaches is centered around an overlap in symptomology. In addition, it’s not enough to say there’s an overlap—we need to know why this overlap exists. So, TIRFADD explains how the manifestation of trauma in the body, overtime, often appears as other disorders
What’s most fascinating, and an issue we dive deeply into in the course, is that the onset ages of mental health disorders follow the exact course of what’s happening in the body for those experiencing trauma:
More and more research has been done about how trauma looks like every other mental health disorder. It starts with anxiety disorders and moves up into behavior disorders, mood disorders, and at the high school level we begin to see all of the at-risk coping skills (substance abuse, gang involvement, self-harm). We have known for a long time, at the clinical level, that these kids don’t have true ADHD. It then shifted to educators, where well-intentioned teachers refer parents to ADHD screenings.
Doctors have not been trained in either med school or residency about the overlapping symptoms of mental health disorders and trauma. So, of course, a well-intentioned physician is trained to diagnose mental health disorders. That child may fit the criteria of a mental health disorder, but physicians are not approaching with a trauma-informed lens. When this occurs, either the symptoms and behaviors get worse, or things don’t get better. When things do get better, it’s because there is a true ADHD. Unfortunately, usually that does not happen—usually things get worse.
This course was created for any practitioner, or parent for that matter, who has found themselves in this difficult situation.
How did the overlap between trauma and ADHD symptomology, and subsequently the need for this course, come to be?
Beginning in 2005, there has been a proposal for the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (https://www.psychiatry.org/psychiatrists/practice/dsm - American Psychiatric Association) to include a new diagnosis known as Developmental Trauma Disorder. Starr has been teaching about it, and support the proposal of that diagnosis. Put simply, it explains how a child grows and develops within the context of toxic stress and trauma, of course they’ll have these symptoms like ADHD, etc. This was the first place where our attention was caught with overlapping symptomology. They put into words what we had experienced with children. Unfortunately, it has yet to be adopted for the DSM. We teach about DTD because it would be a tremendous diagnosis. As opposed to PTSD, DTD would explain that symptoms and reactions have been compounded over a lifetime, not based on a single event. For now, and with the help of TIRFADD, physicians can use whatever diagnosis they may need to get the best service for kids, but with the understanding that what’s driving that diagnosis is probably trauma. In this course, we’re going to give you as much information as we can to be as aware as possible about the overlapping symptomology. It’s a difficult subject, as it’s not black and white. We can’t just follow the symptom and reaction – most likely you’ll get what you’re looking for.
We must remain curious and explore the possibility of what role underlying trauma may be playing in our children’s behavior.