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The Impact of Trauma in Infancy on Child Development

Advances in neuroscientific research in the last 10 years have shown that early childhood trauma can harm every area of a child’s development and lead to serious difficulties in family and school life. Multiple and/or chronic adverse traumatic (ACE) events in childhood affect brain development and everyday function leading to impairment of emotional and arousal regulation, sensory perception and sensory-motor development and physical health. This impacts attachment, social functioning, mood, identity and learning – a constellation of difficulties that has become known as Developmental Trauma. (Bessel Van der Kolk, 2005)

Psychiatrists Bruce Perry and Bessel Van der Kolk have identified developmental trauma as a huge issue for children in the public care system. They advocate for a neurosequential approach to treatment, which involves matching the nature and timing of specific therapeutic and clinical techniques to different developmental stages of the brain. This evidence underpins the work of Family Futures’ therapy team and how we support placements.

The course will show professionals and adoptive  parents and foster carers how to use this approach with children who are fostered or adopted.

Additional information


Self-funding Parent/Carer, Standard Professional, Associate Professional

Course objectives

This three-day course provides professionals with an understanding of how prenatal and postnatal trauma impacts child development and can lead to behavioural difficulties that can be hard to fathom. As well as providing a theoretical background behind developmental trauma and sensory integration, we will be considering other causes underlying an adopted child’s presentation, such as the impact of alcohol and drugs in the womb and how these can be assessed.  The course offers a helpful lens to view the child, and useful practical strategies and interventions to help participants support parents and children.

What skills will you take away?

  • A theoretical understanding of developmental trauma and sensory integration, and the impact on arousal regulation
  • an understanding of the physiological and somatic impact of trauma on infants and children
  • how this affects their ability to regulate psychological responses to stress
  • Interventions to support adopted and looked after children in their placements

Who should attend?

Social workers in Looked After Children, fostering and adoption teams, adoption/fostering team managers, clinical psychologists, paediatric occupational therapists, therapists, solicitors, panel members, adoption support agency providers, psychiatrists, paediatricians and teachers.


Mandy Ruddock – Clinical Specialist Paediatric Occupational Therapist and Advanced Sensory Integration Practitioner, Family Futures

Mandy has been an occupational therapist for thirty five years working with a broad range of client groups, ranging from adults in acute mental health services in the NHS, to working with people of all ages with a physical disability in social services.  She joined Family Futures as the paediatric occupational therapist in 2011 where she has been fascinated by the interface of the physical, mental health and learning issues that adopted children present.  She has built a small team of OTs who provide a range of trauma-informed sensory integration interventions which are integrated into the therapy team approach, together providing a holistic intervention for the child.  Mandy focuses particularly on the sensory difficulties and barriers that impact the participation in everyday life of adopted and fostered children and their families.

Dr Juspreet Dhanoa – Senior Clinical Psychologist, Family Futures


Family Futures CIC
3 & 4 Floral Place
7 - 9 Northampton Grove
London N1 2PL

Course times: 10am - 4:30pm


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