Developmental Trauma, Autism and ADHD

The details
Psychosocial and Psychoanalytic Studies
Colchester Campus
Undergraduate: Level 5
Thursday 05 October 2023
Friday 15 December 2023
31 March 2021


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


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 Coursework weighting
Coursework   Essay 1    30% 
Coursework   Essay 2    70% 

Exam format definitions

  • Remote, open book: Your exam will take place remotely via an online learning platform. You may refer to any physical or electronic materials during the exam.
  • In-person, open book: Your exam will take place on campus under invigilation. You may refer to any physical materials such as paper study notes or a textbook during the exam. Electronic devices may not be used in the exam.
  • In-person, open book (restricted): The exam will take place on campus under invigilation. You may refer only to specific physical materials such as a named textbook during the exam. Permitted materials will be specified by your department. Electronic devices may not be used in the exam.
  • In-person, closed book: The exam will take place on campus under invigilation. You may not refer to any physical materials or electronic devices during the exam. There may be times when a paper dictionary, for example, may be permitted in an otherwise closed book exam. Any exceptions will be specified by your department.

Your department will provide further guidance before your exams.

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

Prof Heather Montgomery
The Open University
Professor of Anthropology and Childhood
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), module, or event type.


Further information

Disclaimer: The University makes every effort to ensure that this information on its Module Directory is accurate and up-to-date. Exceptionally it can be necessary to make changes, for example to programmes, modules, facilities or fees. Examples of such reasons might include a change of law or regulatory requirements, industrial action, lack of demand, departure of key personnel, change in government policy, or withdrawal/reduction of funding. Changes to modules may for example consist of variations to the content and method of delivery or assessment of modules and other services, to discontinue modules and other services and to merge or combine modules. The University will endeavour to keep such changes to a minimum, and will also keep students informed appropriately by updating our programme specifications and module directory.

The full Procedures, Rules and Regulations of the University governing how it operates are set out in the Charter, Statutes and Ordinances and in the University Regulations, Policy and Procedures.