Baby Fold Stimulating the Senses To Rebuild Stressed Brains

Published 04/24 2014 05:42PM

Updated 04/24 2014 06:27PM

NORMAL - We often think of post-traumatic stress disorder affecting soldiers returning from active duty, but researchers have found that toddlers can suffer from PTSD too. Now, one local organization is working to change that.

For Kathleen Bush, therapy at the Baby Fold is changing for the better. A new form of it focuses on the senses, and is helping rebuild the lives of children.

“Children sometimes grow up in homes with domestic violence, so as their brain is developing at age one, two or three, they're experiencing some pretty scary stuff,” said Bush.

Car accidents, stress, and natural disasters that took place during a mother's pregnancy can also lead to underdeveloped brains. In fact, Bush says a PTSD child's brain will be about two-thirds the size of a normal child's. And that can potentially lead to mental disorders.

"Instead of the brain connecting many, many neural connections at critical times, they're not being fed the sensory input,” said Bush.

Time in a hammock here can create balance and connection. Often, therapy sessions will involve a parent being with their child.

"They understand and trust that they can calm themselves down,” said Bush.

Bush says new habits can start to build up the brain in about three weeks, but that doesn't mean the rehabilitation process should stop.

"They haven't materialized it. They haven't created the habits and the understanding of the world in a way they can support it themselves,” explained Bush.

And it's not just the children who benefit.

"Mom and Dad's stress levels come down and that helps them meet their needs more immediately,” said Bush.

Around 150 children are currently taking part in these therapy sessions. Bush says once the brain is built up, it's easier to address the trauma.

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