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Learn the Child: Supporting the education of traumatised children
© als-akamas ltd Why do traumatised children find it difficult to manage school? They may experience many moves Unmet attachment needs may lead to emotional, social and cognitive developmental delay Trauma may lead to impairments and distortions Speech, language and processing disorders Learning difficulties Distorted education narrative Emotional and behavioural difficulties Difficulties with social connectedness and integration
© als-akamas ltd Why do schools find it difficult to manage traumatised children? Moves in the care system can make it difficult to integrate children into school DfES survey showed main problem was post traumatic behaviour Staff recognised traumatic origins but did not know how to manage behaviour in context of whole school Can be difficult to define roles and responsibilities and work effectively together Secondary trauma may affect attitudes and behaviour of adults who constitute the care team
© als-akamas ltd Training helps Online BTEC qualifications aimed at developing expert practitioners in working with traumatised children L3 Certificates and Short Course Awards Supporting the Education of Traumatised Children L4 Certificate and Short Course Awards Expert Practice in Work with Traumatised Children L5 Award for Designated Teachers Online short course programme mapped to standards Face to face multi-disciplinary training “Learn the Child” provided by Akamas
© als-akamas ltd Observation and analysis Think of a traumatised child or young person known to you What behaviours cause concern? Do these behaviours indicate that the child or young person has difficulty with: Self-regulating? Processing information and making sense of the world? Managing relationships? If the child has none of these difficulties, think of a different child!
© als-akamas ltd Identity, attachment and education The seven steps of infant attachment Claimingcore identity Attunementtrust and stress regulation Affective attunementfeelings and empathy Impulse regulationmorality Shame regulationsocial learning Rage managementsocial acceptability Pre-cognitive patterningthinking
© als-akamas ltd Disruptions and distortions during the attachment process At each step of the developmental process linked to attachment, disruption or distortion has an enduring effect Attachment relationships affect the structure of the developing brain Traumatic stress injures the developing brain Children with unmet needs may be thinking and feeling with a different brain What sense do they make of their lives? What is the impact on the child’s education of unmet needs in relation to infant attachment and recovery from childhood trauma?
© als-akamas ltd Developmental trauma Trauma means injury Unregulated stress causes injury to the brain Children with unmet attachment needs often cannot regulate stress Injuries acquired through stress dysregulation because of unmet infant attachment needs may be described as developmental trauma
© als-akamas ltd Emotional trauma Once children can process feelings and can think, they may be injured through exposure to terrifying events Such events lead to extreme stress which injures the brain Injuries acquired through exposure to overwhelming fear or horror may be described as emotional trauma
© als-akamas ltd Trauma and education For traumatised children life in school often triggers a post-traumatic response They may be retraumatisedOR They may have experiences that enable them to process the trauma and recover Education may increase traumatic identity But education may also, at other times, resolve traumatic identity and allow the child to discover other possible identities
© als-akamas ltd What do traumatised children need? Recognition Help with attachment –Affective attunement: soothing/stimulation/trust –Reintegrative shame: impulse/choice/responsibility –Sociability: self-control/reflection/reciprocity Appropriate treatment for trauma –Stabilisation: safety/explanation/words for feelings –Integration: physiological/emotional/cognitive –Adaptation: social connectedness/self-esteem/joy
© als-akamas ltd A nine-point curriculum for working effectively with traumatised children 1 Safety first: soothing hyperaroused children 2 Engaging: stimulating interest and teaching about trauma 3 Trusting and feeling: learning connectedness 4 Managing the self: regulating impulse and regulating the body 5 Managing feelings: choices and emotional processing 6 Taking responsibility: making sense of the world we share 7 Developing social awareness: learning self-control 8 Developing reflectivity: promoting self-esteem 9 Developing reciprocity: learning that life can be joyful
© als-akamas ltd Recreating the claiming process ABCD: attention, bonding, control, dependency Children and young people need to feel That they have our attention, that we are fully aware of who they are and how they are That they matter to us even when we are physically separate from them That we will exert ourselves to keep them safe, that we are reliably in control of their safety That they can depend upon us, that we can carry the burden of their needs
© als-akamas ltd Enhancing a sense of safety Ensuring that every child or young person has some space where they feel safe This may be a physical space or the emotional space of a safe and trusted relationship Learn how sensory experience increases the sense of safety for this child or young person Experiment with the space in discussion with the child or young person Encouraging the child or young person to generalise the feeling of safety through imagination
© als-akamas ltd Recreating the attunement process The child or young person needs patient encouragement to turn to a safe adult for soothing We need to learn the child – what works for this individual person to produce the relaxation response? Which senses are most involved? Sight: lighting, colour, vista, images Hearing: rhythm, music, words, silence Smell: relaxing oils, clothing, pets Taste: milk, chocolate, special food, special drinks Touch: fabric, water, care of hair/hands/feet …
© als-akamas ltd Helping children to connect to their physical experience When children and young people dissociate they cannot connect to their own experience They need help to recognise physical experiences such as hot/cold or sweet/sour Activities and games may be used, such as: Working with clay Making bread Taste or smell guessing games Making and listening together to music
© als-akamas ltd Recreating affective attunement Encourage the child or young person to pay attention to the facial expression of the safe adult Notice non-verbal signals of feelings in the child and help them to recognise and name what is happening Start with powerful feelings angry, sad, frightened Add in more subtle feelings happy, lonely, sympathetic, awed Whenever possible take pleasure in simply being with the child or young person, and comment on this
© als-akamas ltd Recreating patterns for self-regulation Once the child or young person begins to form a secure attachment relationship, help them to build on this to begin to self-regulate impulse, rage and shame Notice and bring to their attention indicators of physiological change, such as Muscle tension Breathing changes Skin changes Posture Physically model regulating stress
© als-akamas ltd Recreating pre-cognitive patterning Games, activities and stories help the child or young person to begin to develop patterns for cognitive function: Distinguishing fact from fantasy Recognising cause and effect Generalising accurately from the particular Distinguishing mine and yours It is important to recognise that children and young people whose thinking is impaired or distorted do not have control over these impairments or distortions
© als-akamas ltd Working with the child to promote adaptation Even when recovery is impossible children and young people can learn to adapt to acquired impairments Everyone around the child must be aware of the nature of these impairments We can say to the child: “it seems that some things are harder for you than they are for other people” We can engage the child or young person by asking how we can help them with this It is essential to be creative, and to help the child be creative, in finding solutions to the problems of developmental and functional impairment
© als-akamas ltd Teaching children about the effects of unmet needs and the impact of trauma Before children can start to engage they must begin to understand and recognise their own stress arousal To do this they need to learn about the impact of developmental and emotional trauma Children can be helped to gain insight into their own stress responses Carers and school staff can work with the child and with each other to help the child learn about trauma
© als-akamas ltd Teaching children about relaxation Once children have some insight into their own responses they are ready to learn to gain some control of those responses Relaxation is a change in physiology Relaxation is enjoyable, but not for victims of trauma Different approaches work for different people
© als-akamas ltd Helping children to regulate impulse Children with unmet needs may never have developed impulse regulation The process of impulse regulation in the brain is also affected by trauma Many traumatised children find it difficult to regulate impulse They often find this frightening Children who cannot control their own impulses may be very controlling of others
© als-akamas ltd Think first Steps to impulse regulation: Recognise the arousal Practise relaxation to modulate the arousal This builds a gap between impulse and action Use the gap to think about how you will explain the action you are about to take to someone you care about Now CHOOSE what action to take
© als-akamas ltd Helping children to regulate shame Explain that shame is the affect that underlies Embarrassment Shyness Guilt All these will become easier to live with when the child can learn to control their reaction to shame Help the child to put words to the experience of shame Sense of exposure Stress Identify strategies to regulate the stress
© als-akamas ltd Developing social learning Encourage the child to notice accurately the impact they have on others, and to discuss any differences between this outcome and their intentions Talk about what has been learned from every mistake the child makes Notice and comment upon examples of adaptation to a social setting Model social learning so that the child sees that this is a lifelong process of adaptation to other people and situations
© als-akamas ltd Promoting resilience through developing self-regulation and social learning Six domains of resilience in childhood Secure base Education Friendships Talents and interests Positive values Social competencies Resilience in each of these domains is enhanced as the child gains self-regulation and develops the capacity for social learning
© als-akamas ltd Assessing resources Thinking about the child or young person as part of the school community: Who are the members of the team supporting the education of this child or young person? What do each of these people need in order to support the child most effectively? What resources are currently available to enable the team supporting the child to work effectively?
© als-akamas ltd Whole school policies Thinking about the school for the child or young person being considered: What additional whole school policies or changes to existing policies would need to be in place in order to provide for the needs of all children including those who are traumatised? Who are the key people to set these policies or policy changes in place? What is the first step to be taken?
© als-akamas ltd Action plans/improvement plans Thinking about the school action plan or improvement plan: What would be the key steps in the action plan to implement such policies or policy changes? How would the implementation be evaluated?
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