With crayon and paper in hand, 2½-year-old William Watt draws people jumping out of twin buildings engulfed by flames. Taking the crayon, his mother calmly suggests they draw another picture together, one with ladders for the people to crawl down and escape the disaster. And when William repeatedly sobs, “buildings are falling on me,” his mother continually reminds him that “it’s over, William, it’s over.”

After several months, William, who witnessed the terrorist attacks at the World Trade Center, begins drawing scenes of people being saved and buildings staying up. His frightened sobs and other behavioral problems also begin to melt away with time.

Monica Watt, William’s mother, learned to help her son deal with the trauma he experienced on Sept. 11, 2001, from the Community Support Program at Ground Zero. The program, initiated by Irwin Redlener, M.D., FAAP, educates parents and caregivers about behavioral responses children may exhibit in...

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