by: Julie Beem
Ok – this is a strange topic for the Executive Director to blog about. Yes, I’m biased. But here’s the deal…I pay my annual Attachment & Trauma Network (ATN) membership dues each year because I know what an impact my dues make.
In the beginning, my membership was all about me. I needed the support. I needed to learn about therapeutic parenting (even before it was called therapeutic parenting.) I needed to know I was not alone. I needed the connection and community that ATN provides because my family was in survival mode. But as the years pass, I realize that our children and families need so much more.
There’s nothing wrong with joining ATN to get that support and connection. That is the reason, in 1995, three moms started meeting and formed this organization. But beyond the direct help for each of us, there’s much more work to be done.
The internet makes finding information about Reactive Attachment Disorder, PTSD, and Developmental Trauma so much easier than 20 years ago. In fact, parents of traumatized children can tap into free online groups via email and Facebook to vent and share experiences. So, maybe you can forego paying that $35 or $50 to ATN and still feel not as alone as you would have felt two decades ago. Plus, the world (especially the adoption world) is starting to recognize that children who have been abused and neglected have long-lasting impacts emotionally, neurologically and behaviorally.
Yet…it feels pretty lonely in the real world when we’re talking to our neighbors, in-laws, child’s teachers about what our families need and how our children’s early beginnings have created so many challenges for them. It feels pretty lonely when our pediatricians don’t recognize the symptoms and even the social workers don’t know where to turn for help. Attachment disorders and early childhood trauma are NOT common knowledge. Say “Autism”, “Downs Syndrome” or “ADHD” and everyone has a basic understanding. Say “RAD”, “early childhood trauma” or “children from hard places” and you’re met with blank stares.
So, we’re not finished…we’re far from it.
Our children and families need a VOICE. ATN is that voice – and has been even as the research, therapies and understanding of the disorders has continued to evolve. Support-Education-Advocacy is ATN’s three-prong mission. If you look at any childhood disorder, like Autism, for example, it’s the parents and caring professionals banning together to speak up that has pushed forward the movement. It is the collective voice that has brought change.
And that’s why I renew every year. I know that my membership dues count. Every dollar counts. ATN operates on dues and donations. And our VOICE is only as loud as the funding can carry it. Together our VOICE grows. And we’re NOT DONE.