Magazine article The Exceptional Parent

How Did Your Family Cope with Disaster? Tell Us by Participating in the Project Cope-EP Family Survey. (Coping with Disaster)

Magazine article The Exceptional Parent

How Did Your Family Cope with Disaster? Tell Us by Participating in the Project Cope-EP Family Survey. (Coping with Disaster)

Article excerpt

Project Cope

Project Cope is a national clearinghouse for resources related to trauma recovery, with an emphasis on special and vulnerable populations, including individuals with disabilities. With the support of the federal Administration on Developmental Disabilities, the Westchester Institute for Human Development developed Project Cope to meet the unique coping needs of children and adults with disabilities in the wake of the September 11th events. This is the third in a series of EP articles about trauma and its effects on children with disabilities and their families.

September 11th and its aftermath

The terrorist attacks of September 11th opened a new chapter in American history. The September 11th attacks began several months of stress and uncertainty. Throughout this, families have remained committed to minimizing the impact of these events on their children.

Our first two coping guides

Last fall, EP featured two articles about disaster and coping. In these articles we advised families on how to cope with trauma. In our first coping guide (November 2001), we outlined some expected reactions in children and provided general suggestions to help children cope. How children cope is closely related to how their families are coping. Thus, our second coping guide (December 2001) focused on parent reactions to trauma.

Taking stock: The Project Cope -- EP Family Survey

Following the September 11th attacks, we heard from and worked with many families of children with disabilities. Reactions in those families varied greatly. The parent of a child with severe autism shared her story with us: her child knew little about the events themselves, but old behavior problems reemerged due to the stress the whole family experienced. In another family, Heidi, an eight-year-old girl who uses a walker, told her mother she was afraid she'd `never get out of her school' building if there were a disaster. Maria, age four, reacted by becoming withdrawn. Cassandra, three, lost her mother on September 11th and will not go to nursery school without her father. Jake, age twelve, became obsessed with details of the disaster and subsequent cleanup. His preoccupation is just now beginning to wane.

Stories shared by these and other families provided information that helped shape our coping guides. Now, we'd like to take stock from a broader perspective. How did children, especially children with disabilities, react to the events of September 11th? We need your help to answer that question. With the support of EP and the Administration on Developmental Disabilities, Project Cope is conducting a national survey, seeking information from families about the impact of these events on children with disabilities. The field of trauma studies is well developed, yet there is little information on how families of children with disabilities might be uniquely affected. The goal of this research is to learn more about children and trauma. Your responses will better our understanding of how to help children, particularly children with disabilities, cope with trauma.

Tell us by participating in the Project Cope--EP Family Survey.

Completing the survey

Please consider responding to this survey (found on pgs. 49-50). Either complete the form on the next page and mail it back-the survey is postage-paid and does not require a stamp-or log on to our web site, In the first part of the survey we ask about your family and how directly you were affected by the disasters. In the second section we ask you to tell us about your children and how they reacted. We are specifically interested in learning more about children with disabilities, so please answer first about your child or children with disabilities. Then, if there is room, tell us about the reactions your other children had. In the final section, please share any comments or stories that will help us understand how your family reacted to the disaster. …

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