Heather Stack,
Founder & SEND Consultant
HM Stack Consulting
Impact on babies & young children of
Parental Absence & Return,
Re-location & Disability
 Parental absence &
return
 Re-location
 Disability, physical
and/or mental health
 Potential for one or both
parents ...
 Much research pointing to risk factors & adverse impacts of
service life on children
 Links established between –
 Rep...
 “We should never lose sight of the fact that our
genetic inheritance is all about survival, and that’s
just as important...
 There are 3 crucial elements for adult happiness –
1. Optimism
2. High self esteem
3. Control over one’s life
 For infa...
1. Happiness
2. Confidence
3. Success
 Securing these characteristics should be a primary goal
 Between 1 & 2 years of a...
 Babies can imitate expressions not long after birth – key to the
bonding process
 At 6 months, babies grasp the signifi...
Baby to Adult Communication
Infants communicate with other people by a multi-channel system of
senses and expressions – li...
 Parental low mood state over a protracted period can impact
on a baby’s brain activity & development
 Relationships & e...
 1 in 10 first time mothers suffer from post-natal depression
 Difficulties arise when depressed mothers are unable to b...
 Girls of depressed mothers can be more withdrawn &
unhappy at 5 years of age
 Boys of 5 years could also suffer intelle...
 The emotional challenge of deployment & pre-deployment
complex & demanding
 For parents, the challenges made more compl...
 Pre-deployment
 Deployment &
R & R
 Recovery
 Post Deployment
 1: Anticipating departure
 2: Detachment & withdrawa...
Risk Factors Resilience
 First time mothers
 Partners on first
deployment
 Difficult babies
 Babies under 2 years
 Bo...
 Inattentive, persistent, non-attuned parenting
 Relationship tensions & stresses
 Increase in working hours & stress f...
 Anticipated stress can be a positive force enabling a child to
develop coping strategies for later in life
 The ability...
 Complex psychological issues impact upon a parent’s ability to
recognize the need for help & support
 Difficulties expe...
 Community Covenants complement at local level the work of
the Armed Forces Covenant, June 2011 launch
 A voluntary pled...
 The children of parents on active military duty are vulnerable
to long term emotional strain
 US Study by Child Trends,...
 “We’re concerned that children exposed to stressful events,
particularly traumatic stressful events, will have difficult...
 “It could be the accumulation of those stresses as
well as a single overwhelming stress that can lead to
really lasting ...
 Infantile amnesia – the absence of long-term memory events
from childhood
 Young children can remember events in the sh...
 Links shown in research between reduced neuron growth and
increased memory recall
 The opposite also true – a decreased...
 Babies’ brains grow & develop as they interact with their
environment & form relationships
 Babies whose needs are not ...
 Children learn to deal with moderate stress in the context of
positive relationships with reliable care givers
 Great a...
Brain development of 3 Year Old Children
Effects of ‘global’ neglect on brain development – severe sensory-
deprivation ne...
 Brain imaging technologies and studies of human
development in optimal and deprived conditions, show
impact of neglect o...
 Hyper-arousal – when children are exposed to chronic,
persistent stress, their brains sensitive pathways for the fear
re...
 Disrupted attachment process – the foundation of much of
childhood development is attachment – the emotional
relationshi...
 Away from severe effects of prolonged stress, negative impact
may occur at a lower level of severity
Changes in infant ...
 Reports on Impact of Deployment – 4 negative themes
1. Behaviour
2. Loss
3. Emotion &
4. Military life impact
 “Many of...
 Emergence of 4 positive theme, some of which were in direct
opposition to the negative themes –
 Behaviour
 Character
...
 Popular romantic film images of returning service men &
women reunited with beaming families
 Illusion & reality somewh...
 Aware that Joy has researched extensively the impact of
mobility and deployment on service children
 Mobility Project -...
 “Moving between different postings and the potential for
deployment are facts of military life. These not only impact on...
 Anecdotal evidence (community centre mothers) to indicate the
mostly negative impact of mobility on children
 New schoo...
 Potential for a family to share the same experiences
 Anticipation of stresses, in a familiar context, can offset
anxie...
 Defence Recovery Capability
 Help for Heroes runs four Recovery Centres – Colchester,
Catterick, Tidworth & Plymouth
 ...
Injured
Servicemen
& women
Medical
Mind
BodySpirit
Family
 “We all need to remember that those
wounded in the last 10 years will still need
help in 20, 30, 40 years time and beyon...
 The impact of physical and/or mental disability profound &
long term if not life-long
 Sense of loss, adjustment and gr...
 “The support injured service personnel receive from their
families has been shown to be integral to recovery.
As well as...
 Publishing & publishing houses –
 Who represents the needs of service children & families?
 ‘Not our thing’, ‘a niche ...
 Heather Stack
 E-mail: heather@hmstack.com
 Tel: 01926 495695
 Mobile: 07955 607434
 LinkedIn – Heather Stack, Found...
Scsn   early years annual conference - heather stack - presentation oct 2013
Scsn   early years annual conference - heather stack - presentation oct 2013
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Scsn early years annual conference - heather stack - presentation oct 2013

  1. 1. Heather Stack, Founder & SEND Consultant HM Stack Consulting
  2. 2. Impact on babies & young children of Parental Absence & Return, Re-location & Disability
  3. 3.  Parental absence & return  Re-location  Disability, physical and/or mental health  Potential for one or both parents to experience –  Loneliness  Social isolation  Fear & uncertainty  Insecurity  Loss & adjustment  Anger & resentment  Additional pressure  Of life becoming a little smaller...  All of which impact on parenting skills & family life
  4. 4.  Much research pointing to risk factors & adverse impacts of service life on children  Links established between –  Repeated re-location & risk of suicide in young people  Parental depression & mental health problems in children  Demands of caring for a disabled person & mental health problems of carers, leading to elevated risk of mental health problems in children...  Not difficult to find evidence base for risk
  5. 5.  “We should never lose sight of the fact that our genetic inheritance is all about survival, and that’s just as important for new born babies as it is for the adult hunter.”  (Robert Winston – Human Instinct, 2002)  Our starting point, at birth, is one of survival and resilience.
  6. 6.  There are 3 crucial elements for adult happiness – 1. Optimism 2. High self esteem 3. Control over one’s life  For infants, self esteem and control are not an issue  What infants need, and can be taught, is optimism.  The determining factor is happiness and laughter
  7. 7. 1. Happiness 2. Confidence 3. Success  Securing these characteristics should be a primary goal  Between 1 & 2 years of age, personality begins to emerge  An optimistic or a pessimistic personality  The child who is happy, laughs a lot, is excited by the world, v the child who is fearful, timid, prone to crying, anxious
  8. 8.  Babies can imitate expressions not long after birth – key to the bonding process  At 6 months, babies grasp the significance of facial recognition  The process of attachment follows soon after  Attachments are vital to a baby’s survival  Adults can recognize hundreds of faces & recognize emotions  We can tell if a baby is happy, sad, frightened or hungry  Research has shown that the reverse is true  Relatively young babies can read our emotional expressions almost as well as adults can  If a mother is scared, or anxious, or angry, a baby takes notice  Babies tune into the tone of voice as an indicator of mood
  9. 9. Baby to Adult Communication Infants communicate with other people by a multi-channel system of senses and expressions – linking the baby’s brain activities to those of the adult, expressed in touches, vocalisation, face expressions and gestures
  10. 10.  Parental low mood state over a protracted period can impact on a baby’s brain activity & development  Relationships & experiences are key to brain development  Brain activity is stimulated by touch, language, sounds, gesture, facial expressions & physical contact  Speech and language, emotional & social development & attachment depend on that early parent-child interaction  Where that interaction & connection is impoverished, the foundation for developmental difficulties is formed
  11. 11.  1 in 10 first time mothers suffer from post-natal depression  Difficulties arise when depressed mothers are unable to be sensitive to their babies’ emotional needs  High levels of stress hormone make mothers short-tempered, responding more emotionally when a baby cries  Presence of a supportive partner a factor in recovery  The effects on children are not always extreme  Easy, resilient babies come out of it best  Difficult, needy babies are more at risk and boys are particularly vulnerable
  12. 12.  Girls of depressed mothers can be more withdrawn & unhappy at 5 years of age  Boys of 5 years could also suffer intellectually & may become hyperactive  No real research on why this gender difference occurs, but boys are generally less mature at birth  Studies in brain development show that neglect affects parts of the brain responsible for mood and judgement  This may explain why children of depressed parents are known to have higher propensity to depression in later life
  13. 13.  The emotional challenge of deployment & pre-deployment complex & demanding  For parents, the challenges made more complex by the needs of dependent young children  “A guide for the families of deployed regular Army Personnel” (March 2011)  Guidance provides support and information to help prepare for what to expect at a practical & psychological level  Tips for dealing with stress in children & other concerns  The storybook project for young children
  14. 14.  Pre-deployment  Deployment & R & R  Recovery  Post Deployment  1: Anticipating departure  2: Detachment & withdrawal  3: Emotional disorganization  4: Recovery & establishing stability  5: Anticipation & home-coming  6: Adjustment, renegotiating relationships  7: Re-establishing stability
  15. 15. Risk Factors Resilience  First time mothers  Partners on first deployment  Difficult babies  Babies under 2 years  Boys  Socially isolated mothers  Unexpected or prolonged stress  Support ‘out there’  Insecure family context  Experienced mothers  Partners on second or subsequent deployments  Strong support networks  Effective community support  Easy babies  Girls  Positive relationships  Anticipated challenges  Support at point of need  Secure family context
  16. 16.  Inattentive, persistent, non-attuned parenting  Relationship tensions & stresses  Increase in working hours & stress factors  Shifting roles & responsibilities  Dominant needs set the tone & mood for family life  Emotional absence, preceding actual physical absence  Taboo subjects, niggling issues, fractured relationships  Irregularity of time at home, absence from family life  Changing or reduced connections within the community
  17. 17.  Anticipated stress can be a positive force enabling a child to develop coping strategies for later in life  The ability of parents to buffer stresses crucial to impact –  Support groups  Secure relationships (‘Strong Families. Strong Forces’)  Friendships  Information & knowledge  On-going communications with the absent parent  Targeted support  Community groups and positive integration projects
  18. 18.  Complex psychological issues impact upon a parent’s ability to recognize the need for help & support  Difficulties experienced by mothers in prioritising own needs  Concepts of – Failure Inadequacy Pride & loyalty  A barrier to intervention  Integration issues and tensions (military & civilian) can hinder access to support  Stigma attached to visiting professionals (welfare)
  19. 19.  Community Covenants complement at local level the work of the Armed Forces Covenant, June 2011 launch  A voluntary pledge of mutual support between a civilian community & its local armed forces community  Ideal v current reality  Much work to integrate communities with fixed identities  The brown porch, white porch syndrome – all those with white porches are civilian owned, all those...  Children grow up learning trust, co-operation, a sense of belonging, or grow up with tension, suspicion & mistrust
  20. 20.  The children of parents on active military duty are vulnerable to long term emotional strain  US Study by Child Trends, Home Front Alert, 25 July 2013  Author David Murphey,  ‘Home Front Alert: The Risks Facing Young Children in Military Families’  This group of children are facing emotional obstacles that could develop into more serious long term issues.  As many as half a million American children face the elevated risk for emotional problems, particularly anxiety issues.
  21. 21.  “We’re concerned that children exposed to stressful events, particularly traumatic stressful events, will have difficulty learning to cope with emotions, to do well socially and emotionally, and even have problems with their physical health.”  “As these children grow up, there will be at least a subset of them that will face very substantial problems.”  David Murphey, Home Front Alert, July 2013
  22. 22.  “It could be the accumulation of those stresses as well as a single overwhelming stress that can lead to really lasting changes in the developing brain, that can have negative implications for development further along the line.”  A single overwhelming stress or multiple stresses that accumulate...
  23. 23.  Infantile amnesia – the absence of long-term memory events from childhood  Young children can remember events in the short term, but these memories do not persist  New research suggests early childhood events are forgotten because of the high level of neuron production during the first years of life  The formation of new brain cells increases the capacity for learning but also clears the mind of old memories  Research by The Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto & University of Toronto – Dr Paul Frankland & Dr Sheena Josselyn
  24. 24.  Links shown in research between reduced neuron growth and increased memory recall  The opposite also true – a decreased ability to remember when neuro-genesis is increased (as during infancy)  “Before the ages of four or five, we have a highly dynamic hippocampus which can’t stably store information.  As new neurons are generated, memory may be compromised by that process.”  Dr Frankland, HfSC, Toronto, September 2013
  25. 25.  Babies’ brains grow & develop as they interact with their environment & form relationships  Babies whose needs are not met, or are met with neglect, learn different lessons  Neural pathways that develop under negative conditions prepare children to cope in that negative environment  The ability of babies to respond to nurturing and kindness may be impaired  Brief periods of moderate, predictable stress are not problematic – they can prepare a child to cope with the world.
  26. 26.  Children learn to deal with moderate stress in the context of positive relationships with reliable care givers  Great amounts of stress may also be tolerable if a child has a reliable adult who can help buffer the child  But prolonged, severe or unpredictable stress, including neglect or abuse, during a child’s early years, is problematic  The brain’s development can be altered by this toxic stress resulting in impacts on a child’s physical, cognitive, emotional and social growth
  27. 27. Brain development of 3 Year Old Children Effects of ‘global’ neglect on brain development – severe sensory- deprivation neglect (from research into brain development of children from Romanian Orphanages in early 1990s)
  28. 28.  Brain imaging technologies and studies of human development in optimal and deprived conditions, show impact of neglect or prolonged stress on brain development  Major effects include –  Persistent fear response – chronic stress or repeated trauma can result in biological reactions, including a persistent fear state  Neural pathways involved in the fear response can create permanent memories that shape the child’s perception of, and response to, the environment
  29. 29.  Hyper-arousal – when children are exposed to chronic, persistent stress, their brains sensitive pathways for the fear response and create memories that automatically trigger the response without conscious thought – this is hyper-arousal  Dissociation – a coping mechanism whereby children mentally & emotionally remove themselves from a traumatic experience – (zoning out)  In adults a capacity to zone out may be a safeguard against stressful circumstances  In children, the process is less likely to be engaged at a conscious level
  30. 30.  Disrupted attachment process – the foundation of much of childhood development is attachment – the emotional relationships formed with other people.  An infant’s early attachments form the basis for future emotional relationships. It also provides the basis for other learning.  If the attachment process is disrupted, the child’s brain will be wired to meeting day to day needs for survival, rather than building the foundation for future growth  Slides 14 – 19 with thanks to the Child Welfare Information Gateway
  31. 31.  Away from severe effects of prolonged stress, negative impact may occur at a lower level of severity Changes in infant behaviour Increased non compliance Disturbance in sleep patterns Changes in eating habits Increase in anxiety levels Heightened sensitivity Nightmares and sleep terrors Increased anger Frequent mood changes
  32. 32.  Reports on Impact of Deployment – 4 negative themes 1. Behaviour 2. Loss 3. Emotion & 4. Military life impact  “Many of the parents reported changes in their child’s behaviour across the deployment process. These were changes that they attributed solely to their child’s experience of deployment....”  Katy Farrell-Wright, May 2011, Cardiff University
  33. 33.  Emergence of 4 positive theme, some of which were in direct opposition to the negative themes –  Behaviour  Character  Enhanced relationships  Military life impact  “There were a number of areas in which participants described the development of positive personality attributes in their child...”  “It brought us all so much closer, having to go through something like that; we were a much stronger family unit afterwards.”
  34. 34.  Popular romantic film images of returning service men & women reunited with beaming families  Illusion & reality somewhat different  ‘There’s a stranger in the house’  The re-emergence of the father  ‘You wait till your Dad gets home!’  Behaviour management – the threat of the absent parent  Emotional expectations may not meet real life experiences  Yet the illusion persists...
  35. 35.  Aware that Joy has researched extensively the impact of mobility and deployment on service children  Mobility Project -2009, Halton School  Cycles of disengagement and re-engagement before and after school moves  Periods of settled and unsettled behaviours in babies and young children  Emotional and physical responses to environmental factors  The resilience of children and their parents a factor in reducing negative impact of mobility
  36. 36.  “Moving between different postings and the potential for deployment are facts of military life. These not only impact on the Service person, but also on the family. Moving on a regular basis, ‘mobility’, may have a deleterious impact on the family and was one of the most significant concerns raised by military families..”  Unsung Heroes, 2012.  “For mobile families, every time they move they enter a lottery; whether they get a choice of school or whether they get children into a good or failing school.. “  Written Evidence from Army Families Federation, 8th Feb 2013
  37. 37.  Anecdotal evidence (community centre mothers) to indicate the mostly negative impact of mobility on children  New school entry generating a host of negative experiences & childhood memories  Comment that as service children, they ‘hated every minute of being stood before the whole school’ & introduced to peers  Parents see their own children going through the same processes, with same fears they experienced  What are the practices schools employ to integrate new children?  How is intention matched by outcome?  How are child sensitivities & needs protected?
  38. 38.  Potential for a family to share the same experiences  Anticipation of stresses, in a familiar context, can offset anxieties  The ability to re-create home environment & routines  The mood & attitude of parents a significant determining factor in how positively young children respond to change  Infants, with an emerging optimistic personality, more likely to gain from the experience  Young children, with an emerging sense of self & identity & pessimistic personality, less likely to fare well from experience
  39. 39.  Defence Recovery Capability  Help for Heroes runs four Recovery Centres – Colchester, Catterick, Tidworth & Plymouth  Designed to inspire, enable and support wounded, sick or injured service personnel and their families  The centres provide a launch-pad-to-life support service  See the needs of the individual being grouped into five key areas – medical, mind, body, spirit and family – all needing to be in balance to ensure a fulfilled and happy life  (Co-Founders’ Letter, Annual Report, H4H, 2012)
  40. 40. Injured Servicemen & women Medical Mind BodySpirit Family
  41. 41.  “We all need to remember that those wounded in the last 10 years will still need help in 20, 30, 40 years time and beyond...”  Bryn Parry, Chief Executive’s Report, 2012  A need to remember that the partners and children, of those wounded in the last 10 years, will still need help...
  42. 42.  The impact of physical and/or mental disability profound & long term if not life-long  Sense of loss, adjustment and grief common  Changing roles in relationships & families can be problematic  The shift from independence to dependence, and shift back again to independence, fraught with difficulty  A toll taken on service families, on partners & children that can break up families & impact significantly on relationships  The needs of babies & young children may be secondary to more demanding & diverse needs of injured service men
  43. 43.  “The support injured service personnel receive from their families has been shown to be integral to recovery. As well as addressing the psychological needs of service personnel recovering from physical injuries, the practical and emotional impact on the families who care for them must also be taken into consideration.”  Unsung Heroes: Developing a better understanding of the emotional support needs of service families, March 2012
  44. 44.  Publishing & publishing houses –  Who represents the needs of service children & families?  ‘Not our thing’, ‘a niche market’ ‘not commercial enough’  Political lobbying -  SEND groups very successful with influence at senior level  Funding disparities between needs of service children & communities & funding on SEND  What gains could be made with £30k per pupil per year?  What gains could be made with £250k per pupil per year?  Individual pupil ‘high-level’ support v whole community support
  45. 45.  Heather Stack  E-mail: heather@hmstack.com  Tel: 01926 495695  Mobile: 07955 607434  LinkedIn – Heather Stack, Founder & SEN Consultant, HM Stack Consulting  Twitter @HMStack  hmstack.wordpress.com
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