Complex trauma in a child can create a host of diagnoses aka alphabet soup for a kiddo. Our child was no exception. One of her diagnoses is PTSD and that comes with an extreme sense of hyper vigilance.
One piece of the evidence was her stress level in crowds and noisy situations. Crowds make it more difficult to manage the awareness of any perceived threats nearby, as does a noisier than average situation. When you've been abused for years, you become so aware of all your surroundings at all times, so you can bolt at a moments notice.
It is a survival skill that's used to avoid, minimize or handle situations.
A gift at times, but very draining and difficult in most cases.
Early on, we could tell her stress level would get up if she couldn't see everything around her, have clear ways to the door, be able to hear what was going on and protect herself. During attachment therapy, one of the things done to monitor what level she was at was her looking around the room for 10 seconds and then closing her eyes and telling everything she could remember in a short time frame.
Literally there would be nothing in the room that she was not aware of being there.
Last week, she went to a friends house for her birthday party. It was the first time visiting that friend. When I picked her up, as you walk into the house, the laundry area is where you come in at. I was talking to her friends mom and noticed the decor in the laundry room with the words "laundry today or naked tomorrow" on the wall.
Our laundry hamper broke and we'd ordered a new one, which also has that same phrase on it. When I mentioned her friends laundry room having that on the wall, kiddo looked at me like I grew two heads. She hadn't even noticed. I was near tears and squealed. Literally.
I looked at hubs and said "Can you believe she didn't even NOTICE that?!". Hubs knew what I meant but kiddo said "don't make fun of me momza". I assured her I wasn't making fun of her, that I was actually mentioning it because I am so proud of her that she's made so much progress that her first instinct isn't to check out every detail of her surroundings, but to relax and just enjoy her life.
Obviously I want her aware enough to be safe, but I want her to relax enough that when she's in a safe environment that she can have fun and not be so concerned about how to escape.
Proud momma bear here. Kiddo has worked so hard on her trauma and made so much progress.
This weekend, she went to the trampoline park with BFF. I asked if she wanted to put a xanax in her purse in case it was overwhelming there. We hadn't been there before because of the crowds. She said it wasn't necessary. Crowds didn't scare her the same way they used to. As long as she had somebody with her, she was fine.
She's also JUST started in the past 30 days going into a store by herself.
So much progress.
Thankfully though, this survival skill should help her recognize when somebody is fake or a threat. I think that will automatically come back when needed.