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The Language of this Chapter Introduction Trauma and Academics: Playing Chess in a Hurricane Just How Pervasive is the Problem? ACEs and School Performance.

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Presentation on theme: "The Language of this Chapter Introduction Trauma and Academics: Playing Chess in a Hurricane Just How Pervasive is the Problem? ACEs and School Performance."— Presentation transcript:

1 The Language of this Chapter Introduction Trauma and Academics: Playing Chess in a Hurricane Just How Pervasive is the Problem? ACEs and School Performance. Nature of Trauma Symptoms of Trauma: When the Solution Is the Problem Trauma and the Brain: The Neurobiology of Trauma How Trauma Affects Learning. Meeting the Challenge: Background Knowledge for Finding Solutions The Nature of Resiliency. The Nature of Compassion. A Working Definition of Compassionate Schools. An Ecological View of Trauma and Resiliency. Healing from Trauma in Other Cultures. Trauma and Gender. Compassion Requires That We Be Responsive and Relevant. How Trauma Affects Those Who Care – Vicarious (Secondary) Trauma Summary.

2 The Greek word trauma means an injury or wound. Trauma is not an event but a response to an experience in which the individuals response has been compromised (both mind and body). Enduring Consequences: Bruises Fade but the Memories Last Forever. Trauma -Defined

3 Ecological and Systemic Views of Trauma When we see a child with traumatic affect, we are seeing the tip of an iceberg that extends into family and community.

4 Trauma in Our Schools There is nothing new about the p presence of traumatized children I in our schools. What is new is t that trauma researchers have u quantified the pervasiveness of trauma across urban, suburban and rural communities and have established a direct measure of cause and effect, a dose-response relationship, between trauma and serious health issues. (Felitti et al., 1998).

5 What are the signs? A ten-year-old who habitually falls asleep in class. This child is frequently awakened in the night by the sounds of mother groaning and pleading as father struck her repeatedly. A sixteen-year-old who doesnt complete required homework. At home are two parents, one who drinks too much, the other undergoing chemotherapy for terminal cancer. An eight year-old who finds it difficult to concentrate on math. Last night, while mother was out, step-father forced himself upon her, again. Echoing in her mind is his threat,Tell anyone and I swear, I will kill you and your mother. An eleven-year-old whose frustrations explode into angry displays of emotion. The fearhe and his older sibling may betaken away from home because of violent behavior. Where will they sleep tonight? Will they be safe?

6 The trauma involves a violation of the basic safety and support expected in intimate relationships. There is a high probability that core social resources for recovery are also part of the traumatizing events. The hallmark of complex trauma is that it persists over time. While complex trauma exposure may be limited to a single or short-term set of events, this is the exception. Trauma exposure is typically persistent but episodic. The result is that the victim endures high levels of unpredictabile and recurrent exposures to risk. Complex Trauma

7 Hyperarousal: Persistent expectation of danger and impaired capacity to modulate intensity of responses. Intrusion: Flashbacks during waking states and/or ongoing traumatic nightmares. Constriction: Transfixed in the glare of oncoming headlights. Appear not to care. Dissociate, often with drugs/alcohol. (Herman, 1992) Complex Trauma: The experience of multiple or chronic and prolonged, developmentally adverse traumatic events, most often of a personal nature (sexual or physical abuse, family violence, war, community violence) and early life onset. (Spinazzola et al., 2005) Traits of PTSD / Complex Trauma

8 Biology of Traumatic Impact Children with traumatic stress are operating within the mode of survival in the moment. Survival in the moment is governed by pathways in the brain that appraise threat, sacrifice context for speed of response, mobilize the body for fight, flight or freeze, leading to behavioral responses outside of consciousness. Higher order brain functions are temporarily put on hold when survival is at stake. Behavioral responses are NOT DECISIONS, for they are made at the lower levels (limbic system) of the brain. (Greenwald OBrien, 2008)

9 Biology of the Impact of Trauma Neurobiological Consequences of Different Forms of Childhood Maltreatment Martin Teicher, M.D., Ph.D. Traumatic exposure can produce lasting alterations in the endocrine, autonomic and central nervous systems including the function and structure of the Amygdala, Corpus Callosum, Hippocampus, Cerebellar Vermis, Cerebral Cortex. Impulse control can become greatly reduced leading to significant learning and behavior problems in the classroom that are beyond the ability of the student to control.

10 Brain Development Patterns NEUTRAL START BRAIN Hormones, chemicals & cellular systems prepare for a tough life in an evil world. OUTCOME Individual & species survive the worst conditions. INDIVIDUAL Edgy. Hot temper. Impulsive. Hyper vigilant. Brawn over brains. BRAIN Hormones, chemicals & cellular systems prepare for life in a benevolent world. TRAUMATIC STRESS OUTCOME Individual & species live peacefully in good times; vulnerable in poor conditions. INDIVIDUAL Laid back. Relationship- oriented. Thinks things through. Process over power. Dissonance between biological expectations & social reality fuels psychiatric disorders Adapted from the research of Martin Teicher, MD, Ph.D.


12 The Neurological Effects of Trauma (cont.)

13 Adverse Childhood Experiences The 1998 Adverse Childhood Experiences study, which sent standardized questionnaires to 17,421 adult members of a large HMO, found that 44 percent of respondents reported suffering sexual, physical, or psychological abuse as children, and 12.5 percent reported having a mother who had been treated violently. ( Fellitti et al., 1998 )

14 WHAT ARE THE ADVERSE CHILDHOOD EXPERIENCES (ACEs)? WHAT ARE THE ADVERSE CHILDHOOD EXPERIENCES (ACEs)? As defined by Drs. Anda and Felitti (2009) 1.Child physical abuse. 2.Child sexual abuse. 3.Child emotional abuse. 4.Emotional neglect. 5.Physical neglect. 6.Mentally ill, depressed or suicidal person in the home. 7.Drug addicted or alcoholic family member. 8.Witnessing domestic violence against the mother. 9.Loss of a parent to death or abandonment, including abandonment by parental divorce. 10.Incarceration of any family member for a crime.



17 Three of the most frequent causes of trauma are sexual abuse, rape and domestic violence. The majority of these crimes are committed against girls and women although there have been studies that reveal that crimes against boys and men are significant in number. Boys who are raped, or otherwise abused, suffer trauma the same as their female counterparts. In the last two decades there have been several highly publicized incidents involving attacks on gay and lesbian students. What hasnt received much press coverage is the finding that gay and lesbian youth comprise as much as one quarter of all youth suicides. Trauma and Gender

18 Resilient students need resilient teachers. Good content teaching requires modeling of skills, and attitudes. If teachers themselves are barely coping, if teachers cannot bounce back from the challenges they face, how are they to sustain the strength needed to promote resiliency among their students? (Wolpow and Askov, 2008) Cant teach what you dont know.... Challenges: Fostering Teacher Resiliency

19 Childhood resiliency requires a shift in thinking from what iswrong with problem children who are casualties of negative/pathological factors, to the study of what is right with children, what it is about them and their support environment that enables them to adapt, and in some cases thrive, despite the traumatic stressors in their lives. (Rutter, 1990; Masten, Best and Garmezy, 1990; Wolin & Wolin, 1993) Childhood Resiliency

20 The Heart of Learning and Teaching: Compassion, Resiliency, and Academic Success Contact Ron Hertel, Program Supervisor Office Superintendent of Public Instruction Phone:

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