Developmental Trauma, Autism and ADHD

The details
Psychosocial and Psychoanalytic Studies
Colchester Campus
Undergraduate: Level 5
Thursday 03 October 2019
Saturday 14 December 2019
12 December 2019


Requisites for this module



Key module for

BA L520 Childhood Studies,
BA L521 Childhood Studies (Including Year Abroad),
BA L522 Childhood Studies (Including Placement Year),
BA L523 Childhood Studies (Including Foundation Year)

Module description

Working with children in early years and schools settings, or in children's centres today means that you will almost certainly encounter children diagnosed with or suspected of experiencing Developmental Trauma, Autistic Spectrum Disorder (ASD) or Attention Deficit and Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). In this module students study a range of serious difficulties which some children encounter, together with some consideration of the interventions by which they can be helped.
Students will learn how developmental trauma jeopardises and delays children's development in their emotional, educational and social lives. They will gain understanding of the difficulties encountered by and the subjective experiences of young people on the autistic spectrum as well as some strategies which have been used to improve their situation. Similarly, students will gain an understanding of Attention Deficit and Hyperactivity Disorders, looking at causes, treatments and controversies which surround this.
During the module students will be helped to understand and debate the relative merits of the biological, neurological and psychosocial processes involved as well as the more apparent effects on the children and their functioning. In the module as a whole, students will learn to appreciate the complex interactions between nature and nurture in relation to all three presentations, but also recognise the central importance of connecting with each child and their unique experience of their diagnosis and difficulties as above and beyond relating to the diagnosis itself.
The module is mainly based around reading and discussion of the issues, but some seminars will include workshops and more personal engagement to bring the material alive.

Module aims


• To help students understand a range of serious difficulties faced by children, with attention to aetiology, subjective experience and therapeutic interventions
• To enable students to be more aware of the diversity of infants and children they are likely to encounter working in childcare settings
• To have a better understanding of the dilemmas and difficulties experienced in settings catering for children with diverse characteristic and learning needs

Module learning outcomes

Learning Outcomes

* Student will know what is meant by Developmental Trauma, and have a psychodynamic and psychosocial understanding of how it arises and how it can be addressed
* Student will know what is meant by the Autistic Spectrum Disorder and have an appreciation of what children on the spectrum experience, along with a basic knowledge of effective interventions
* Student will know what is meant by ADHD, different views of its aetiology, a psychodynamic and psychosocial understanding of the disorder and a range of useful interventions
* Student will be familiar with the controversies and debates surrounding these difficulties / disorders and will be able to articulate a reasoned position on each one

Module information

No additional information available.

Learning and teaching methods

10 x 1hr lecture/ seminar 10 x 1hr seminar discussion


  • Attwood, Tony. (2007) The complete guide to Asperger's syndrome, London: Jessica Kingsley Publishers.
  • Burns, T. (2014) 'A diagnosis for everything and the medicalisation of everyday life', in Our necessary shadow: the nature and meaning of psychiatry, London: Penguin Books.
  • Howe, D. (2005) 'Child sexual abuse', in Child abuse and neglect: attachment, development, and intervention, New York: Palgrave Macmillan.
  • Van Der Kolk, B. (2014) 'Developmental trauma: The Hidden Epidemic', in The body keeps the score: brain, mind, and body in the healing of trauma, New York: Viking., pp.149-168
  • Music, Graham. (2017) 'Genes, Nature and Nurture', in Nurturing natures: attachment and children's emotional, sociocultural and brain development, Abingdon: Routledge.
  • Music, Graham. (2017) 'Conclusions: Early Experience and its Longer-term Consequence', in Nurturing natures: attachment and children's emotional, sociocultural and brain development, Abingdon: Routledge.
  • Orford, Eileen. (1963-) 'Wrestling with the whirlwind: An approach to the understanding of ADD/ADHD', in Journal of Child Psychotherapy. vol. 24 (2) , pp.253-266
  • Frith, U. (2003) 'The Biological Roots', in Autism: explaining the enigma, Malden, MA: Blackwell.
  • Music, Graham. (©2019) Nurturing children: from trauma to growth using attachment theory, psychoanalysis and neurobiology, Abingdon, Oxon: Routledge.
  • Hunter, M. (2001) 'Beginnings', in Psychotherapy with young people in care: lost and found, New York: Brunner/Routledge.
  • Music, G. (2017) 'Born to relate', in Nurturing natures: attachment and children's emotional, sociocultural and brain development, Abingdon: Routledge.
  • Simpson, D. (2008) 'A Psychiatric Approach to Autism', in Autism in childhood and autistic features in adults: a psychoanalytic perspective, London: Karnac.
  • Maria E. Pozzi. (no date) 'Ritalin for whom? Understanding the need for Ritalin in psychodynamic counselling with families of under-5s', in Journal of Child Psychotherapy: Taylor & Francis. vol. 26 (1) , pp.25-43
  • Music, G. (2017) 'Trauma, neglect, and their effects', in Nurturing natures: attachment and children's emotional, sociocultural and brain development, Abingdon: Routledge.
  • Smith, H. (1995) 'Emotional abuse and physical neglect', in Unhappy children: reasons and remedies, London: Free Association Books.
  • Dwivedi, Kedar Nath. (2010) 'Approaching Trauma', in Children and adolescents in trauma: creative therapeutic approaches, London: Jessica Kingsley., pp.23-40
  • Siobhan Timmins. (2016) 'Understanding my child’s perspective in school', in Successful social stories for young children, London: Jessica Kingsley Publishers., pp.21-30
  • Rutter, M.; Schopler, E. (©1988) 'Autism and Pervasive Development Disorders: Concepts and Diagnostic Issues', in Diagnosis and assessment in autism, New York: Plenum Press., pp.15-30
  • Widener, Anmarie J. (1963-) 'Beyond Ritalin: The importance of therapeutic work with parents and children diagnosed ADD/ADHD', in Journal of Child Psychotherapy. vol. 24 (2) , pp.267-281
  • Green, V. (2003) 'The human unconscious: the development of the right brain and its role in early development', in Emotional development in psychoanalysis, attachment theory and neuroscience: creating connections, Hove: Brunner-Routledge.
  • Ayres, A. Jean; Robbins, Jeff; Pediatric Therapy Network. (©2005) Sensory integration and the child: understanding hidden sensory challenges, Los Angeles, CA: WPS.
  • Saul, R. (2015) 'The Birth of a Crisis', in ADHD does not exist: the truth about attention deficit and hyperactivity disorder, New York: HarperWave.
  • Horne, A. (2009) 'Sexual abuse and sexual abusing in childhood and adolescence', in The handbook of child and adolescent psychotherapy: psychoanalytic approaches, ©2009: Routledge.
  • Tustin, Frances. (1990) The protective shell in children and adults, London: Karnac Books.

The above list is indicative of the essential reading for the course. The library makes provision for all reading list items, with digital provision where possible, and these resources are shared between students. Further reading can be obtained from this module's reading list.

Assessment items, weightings and deadlines

Coursework / exam Description Deadline Weighting
Coursework   Essay 1    30% 
Coursework   Essay 2    70% 

Overall assessment

Coursework Exam
100% 0%


Coursework Exam
100% 0%
Module supervisor and teaching staff
Dr Chris Nicholson, email:
Department of Psychosocial and Psychoanalytic Studies
Student Administrator Room 5A.202 telephone 01206 874969 email



External examiner

Dr Claudia Lapping
Available via Moodle
Of 20 hours, 20 (100%) hours available to students:
0 hours not recorded due to service coverage or fault;
0 hours not recorded due to opt-out by lecturer(s).


Further information

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