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The Effects of Trauma on Learning and Behavior: Strategies that Work


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The Effects of Trauma on Learning and Behavior: Strategies that Work

  1. 1. Effects of Trauma onLearning & Behavior: Strategies That Work presented by Janet VignalyAfrican Community Education (ACE) Program Worcester, MA
  2. 2. Childhood Trauma “the mental result of 1 sudden blow or series of blows rendering the young child temporarily helpless,breaking past ordinary coping/defensive mechanisms”Terr, L. (1991). Childhood traumas: An outline and overview. American Journal of Psychiatry,148, 10-20.
  3. 3. Trauma Survivors...• were born with a deformity• experienced chronic illness• were abused physically, sexually, or verbally as children• witnessed violence• experienced a parent disability or death• grew up in poverty• were homeless• experienced community violence, terrorism or war• survived a natural disaster
  4. 4. Trauma may result from......a direct, personal experience of an event...witnessing an event...learning about an event...being threatened with death...experiencing serious injury of self...experiencing threat to one’s physical integrity...the death, threat of death, serious injury,threat to physical injury of another
  5. 5. Trauma is a subjective responseto an objective event. PTSD: repeated, visualized memories repetitive behaviors specific fears emotional over-/ under-responsiveness negative worldview
  6. 6. Trauma Statistics“Over 3 million reports of child abuse are made every year in the UnitedStates; however, those reports can include multiple children. In 2009,approximately 3.3 million child abuse reports and allegations were madeinvolving an estimated 6 million children.”•“A report of child abuse is made every ten seconds”“more than five children die every day as a result of child abuse andneglect”
  7. 7. Trauma Statistics UK Study of 300 school-aged children
  8. 8. Trauma Statistics 100 of whom were refugees
  9. 9. Trauma Statistics > 25% refugee children reported significant psychological disturbance ...much more than non-refugee students
  10. 10. Trauma Statistics US refugees: 25-50% PTSD
  11. 11. 12 years later...
  12. 12. “The prevalence of family violence and its traumatizing consequences for children means that schools can no longer consider it a rare occurrence with minimal impact on children’s behavior and academic success... Schools can no longer limit interventionsto individual children with known trauma histories but must create instructional frameworks that integrate a trauma-sensitive approach into all aspects of the school day.” Craig (2008), p. 3
  13. 13. The Biological Effects of Trauma of Trauma
  14. 14. Physiology of TraumaBroca’s Area • controls language • “shuts down” with trauma
  15. 15. Physiology of TraumaHormones metabolism immunity• Cortisol: stress hormone  inflammation flat levels seizures• Serotonin: mood modulator  brain dev. depleted
  16. 16. Physiology of TraumaLimbic System:  hypothalamus, amygdala, hippocampus • Mobilize in face of threat • Fight-or-Flight • Processing & storing emotional reactions • Fundamental role in PTSD
  17. 17. Physiology of TraumaCerebellar vermis • Motor coordination • Attention & Emotion• Continued development• Affected by stress hormone
  18. 18. Physiology of Trauma Lagging Left, Dominant Right Text•more R brain activation (negative emotions)•smaller corpus callosum (R­L connection)•real vs. imagined danger
  19. 19. Effects on Behavior and Learning in School
  20. 20. EcologicalFramework
  21. 21. Trauma is a subjective response to an objective event.Not all people will respond to an event the same way. Kids that have a history of violence may have developed some difficulties that hinder learning in school. Source: Reaching and Teaching Children Who Hurt  by Susan E. Craig (2008)
  22. 22. Impact on AttentionPast experiences with unpredictability or dangermay affect attention through: frequent “downshifting”: survival first! intrusive memories Suggestions for in-school response include: teach deep breathing and visualization make emotional connection with students before introducing content always pair oral directions with written ones. help children learn difference between actual danger and “false positives”
  23. 23. SequencingInconsistency and lack of routinesin early years may lead to: difficulty with sequential ordering difficulty with multi-step instructions or algorithms impulsivitySuggestions for in-school response include: breaking up instructions into chunks make task cards that show single steps to multi-step process; turn over cards as steps are completed graphic organizers showing “Cause and Effect”
  24. 24. LanguageLack of talk around ideas, thoughts, feelingsmay lead to difficulty with engaging socially organizing thoughts processing infoSuggestions for in-school response include: allow self-expression that doesn’t require language facilitate social interactions, games use context cues, props teach “thoughtful hesitation”
  25. 25. MemoryChronic stress from exposure toviolence interferes with workingmemory and ability to processinformation accuratelySuggestions for in-school response include: teach children to look for and identify patterns in everyday life link new ideas to music and movement: “short-cuts” to the long-term memory make sure students feel safe in the school setting
  26. 26. BuildingTrauma-Sensitive SchoolsTrauma-Sensitive Schools
  27. 27. Adaptive in One Context...
  28. 28. How We Respond• PLACE, LUV ListenPlayful Understand Loving Validate Accepting Curious Empathic
  29. 29. Building Trauma- Sensitive SchoolsSCHOOL CLIMATEBuilding Children’s StrengthsMaintaining SafetyProviding Positive Behavior Support Universal SupportCreating a Positive Peer CulturePromoting Self-Care
  30. 30. Building Trauma- Sensitive SchoolsDEESCALATING BEHAVIOR Child: describe event establish timeline Adult: listen & accept introduce alternatives Child: identify feelings Adult: supply words Both: discuss outcomes decide prevention steps
  31. 31. Building Trauma- Sensitive SchoolsBUILDING SOCIAL COMPETENCE Social Competence Friendship Conflict Resolution Using Social Information Meaningful Service to Others
  32. 32. Building Trauma- Sensitive SchoolsBUILDING COMPETENCE THROUGH CONSISTENT USE OF INSTRUCTIONAL BEST PRACTICES Differentiated Instruction Planning by Concept Using Ongoing Assessment Implementing Flexible Grouping Encouraging Choice Making Fostering Self-Reflection
  33. 33. Creative Interventions• Art, Music, Drama, Play• Drawing pictures• Writing prompts with picture• Singing well­known songs• Drumming, music, movement• Listening to / Making Music• Create a CD cover• Write lyrics• Claywork• Scratchboard• Role play• Direct a scene from your life
  34. 34. Schools can no longer limit interventions to individual children with known trauma histories but must create instructionalframeworks that integrate a trauma-sensitive approach into all aspects of the school day.”
  35. 35. • Suggested Reading Craig, Susan E. (2008), Reaching and Teaching Children Who Hurt - Strategies for Your Classroom, Baltimore: Brookes.• Understanding responses to trauma and creating trauma-sensitive schools. Harris, David A. (2007) Pathways to embodied empathy and reconciliation after atrocity: Former boy soldiers in a dance/movement therapy group in Sierra Leone, Intervention 2007, Volume 5, Number 3, Page 203 - 231.• Dance/movement therapists that provided healing activities and community reconciliation.Hughes, Daniel (2006) Building the Bonds of Attachment: Awakening Love in Deeply Troubled Children, Second Edition, New York: Jason Aronson Publishing.• Story of an abused and neglected girl, and the foster mother who finally helped her.Jensen, Eric (2008), Brain-Based Learning - The New Paradigm of Teaching, Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press.• Classroom implications & instructional suggestions based on understanding of brain function.Kuban, Caelan LMSW, CTC & Steele, William, PsyD, MSW (2008) One-minute interventions for Traumatized Children and Adolescents, Clinton Township, MI: TLC.• Practical guide to helping different age groups process traumatic experiences.Malchiodi, Cathy A. (2008), Creative Interventions with Traumatized Children, New York: Guildford Press.• Practical ideas for therapists to help children work through trauma through play, art, drama, music, and other creative means.