Assessment of children often utilises information from adults (parents, child carers, teachers, guidance officers). Such informants can also be affected by the disaster and account must be taken for skewing of their judgement. Adults especially when stressed, often underestimate and even suppress knowledge of children’s’ distresses. Therefore, most importantly, each child should also be assessed individually. This may require specialist knowledge of child/ adolescent/ family
25 developmental stages, as well as how children communicate e.g. through play, drawing, and nonverbal family communication. During assessment the following points should be noted: • Children express their distress relatively more in physical symptoms and in actions. They are relatively more likely to associate events with atavistic and personalised meanings such as that a monster or a monstrous parent caused the disaster; alternately they may believe that they caused the disaster or it was a punishment for their misdeeds. • Children express their own vulnerabilities and distress, but they may also act as vehicles to express family distress. • Children’s assessments should take similar care as in assessments of adults for dignity, confidentiality and rights of clients and for monitoring of assessments.