• Abstract thought• Concrete thought Cortex• Affiliation• “Attachment”• Sexual behavior• Emotional Reactivity Limbic• Motor regulation• “Arousal”• Appetite/Satiety Diencephalon• Sleep• Blood pressure• Heart rate Brainstem• Body temperature Complexity Plasticity Bruce Perry
Possible causes of early trauma• Abuse or neglect• Immature or ill-prepared care givers• Drug addicted mothers• Loss of parent/primary caretaker• Extended early vs hospitalizations, surgeries, illnesses• Living with or witnessing violence• Frequent moves or placements
The brain’s first job is to keep the body alive. RATIONAL BRAIN EMOTIONAL BRAIN (NEW BRAIN) (OLD BRAIN)• IMPULSE CONTROL • FIGHT OR FLIGHT ACTION• SENSE OF REASON AND • BIOLOGICAL RESPONSE JUDGEMENT M.E. Fecser
Manifestation of Trauma• Hyperarousal (fight or flight) – If you cannot flee, you fight.• Dissociation (freeze) M.E. Fecser 2012
Observable signs of potential trauma Hyper-vigilance / Alertness• Wary and guarded facial affect• Issues around “fairness”(perceived unfair criticism)• Distrustful and suspicious, questions adult motives.• Argumentative• Uncomfortable in crowds or large groups – May refuse to join a large group situation (E.g. class is on the floor in a group—child sits in chair behind group) – May refuse to walk in line. – In large group situation, hits, pushes, touches, or grabs others (hit first) M.E. Fecser 2012
Abandonment Issues• Clingy or dependent• May be unusually friendly with strangers (esp. younger students)• Accuses adult of insufficient care or support• Tendency to try and control adults in life, or cause them to reject him/her M.E. Fecser 2012
Self-Protection and Control• May feel helpless due to past victimization – Learned helplessness and control of adults through dependence.• Refuses or only partially follows directions• Justifies harmful behaviors• Passive-aggressive behavior• Need to save face/appear strong or smart• Will refuse to do work he perceives as too difficult M.E. Fecser 2012
• Controlling and manipulative of teacher, peers and system• Plays adults against each other.• Comfortable in and often create chaos – Brain resists change and the child will try to elicit a familiar response in situations of calm and predictability. M.E. Fecser 2012
Hyper-arousal• Easily angered (fight or flight response) by: – Perceived threatening affect such as staring. – Demands. – Perceived difficult work assignment. – Anger in others. M.E. Fecser 2012
In more seriously involved children• Lying• Stealing• Fire-setting• Cruelty to animals• Apparent lack of conscience M.E. Fecser 2012
Traditional Responses to Oppositional Behavior• Repeating direction more firmly• Threats• Lectures• Punishment or loss of privileges• Exclusion (sent out of room, suspended from school) M.E. Fecser 2012
Conflict Cycle of Traumatized Children Child’s Self-concept & Irrational Beliefs When others are in control, I am hurt. Most people want to hurt me. I have to take care of myself no matter what the damage to others. Stressful Event Teacher gives a direction. Peer stares at him. Staff response Feelings Gives a command, I am in danger. scolds, punishes. Behavior Refusal to follow direction.M.E. Fecser 2012 Strikes out at peer.
Expression of emotion (fight or flight)• Puts the brain in equilibrium by ridding the body of the adrenaline.• Therefore, it feels good, so we continue to erupt.• We need to find alternative ways to regulate the brain.
Function• Brain is in survival mode leading to a state of hyper-arousal and hyper-vigilance.• Subconscious need to be in control because: – As infants, never learned that they could control the world. – When adults were in control, they got hurt.• Escape from situations where they have no control or feel like victims.• Marvin, age 6 (when asked why he does these things): “It’s my brain. It just makes me do this.” M.E. Fecser 2012
First steps toward healing: Calm the lower brain1. Stop the trauma (i.e. punishment based programs).2. Prevent fight or flight response. Otherwise: – No learning can take place. (A brain in survival mode cannot be in learning mode.) – Neural connections related to trauma are strengthened3. Create a feeling of safety and security. – Due to their hyper-vigilance, they see and feel danger everywhere and are therefore often in state of hyper-arousal. M.E. Fecser 2012
Goal• To regulate the amygdala.• To help them process situations (access their frontal lobes) in order to better regulate their own feelings.• To teach cause and effect thinking. M.E. Fecser 2012
Prevent Fight or Flight• Pay attention to your own non-verbals and adrenaline level.• Use alternatives to directives, such as referring to the schedule or using gestures.• Initially, give frequent but brief attention. Drop a thought or comment and walk away. (Hovering, being too nurturing may be perceived as a threat.) M.E. Fecser 2012
Proactive Strategies Provide structure• Set clear limits and expectations.• Use a premacked schedule rather than points or reward systems which are easily sabotaged.• Put into the schedule any activities, breaks, or individual time that he tries to take.• Call on students in a predictable order or pull names .• Rotate around the room in a predictable order, giving regular, positive attention and feedback.• Maintain close communication with all involved adults. M.E. Fecser 2012
Building Relationships (Bruce Perry)• Therapeutic gains can only be made through relationships.• Medication does not reorganize the brain.• Part of evolution.• Quantity counts• Relationship must be: – In tune – Attentive – Responsive
Building Relationships• Rather than praise, point out specifically what the child has done.• Point out her positive impact on peers.• Encourage acts of kindness.• Maintain close supervision, modeling and reinforcing positive leadership and social skills. M.E. Fecser 2012
Building Relationships• Maintain a casual distance (side by side, move in and back off)• Repeatedly provide positive experiences in the environment, relationships, and emotions.• Create opportunities for student to showcase strengths and leadership skills.• Provide 1:1 time with trusted adult.
Calm the Lower Brain• Make sure you are calm (no adrenaline): Importance of mirror neurons• Breathe deeply and slowly.• Acknowledge feelings and attempts at self- e N ee d f o hDRAIN OFF T r regulation. DRAIN OFF• Rhythmic movements. DRAIN OFF DRAIN OFF LSCI Institute 61
Reactive Strategies• Always use a calm and concerned voice tone. Avoid showing anger.• Avoid arguments. (Student is usually well aware of the rules and will find loopholes.)• Avoid directions or commands, lectures, or asking why. Simply drop a thought or observation.• Give controlled choices. M.E. Fecser 2012
Reactive Strategies, cont.• Prevent and interrupt any bullying.• Ignore behavior while giving regular, intermittent attention to child.• When all else fails, subtly bring in a novel person. M.E. Fecser 2012
Consequences• Use only natural or logical consequences which should be closely related to the behavior.• Use benign confrontation to create small amounts of discomfort about the behavior. (As in a Symptom Estrangement)
Once the amygdala iscalm……• Begin the timeline. If done non-judgmentally, it allows for: – Rhythmic, back and forth conversation that further calms the lower brain. – An opportunity to be heard. – An opportunity to process the situation—move the feelings from limbic system (lower brain) to the frontal lobes (upper brain)—by putting order and language to the intense emotions. – Writing, journaling: Has proven effective in processing in victims of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.
Ultimately. . . .• Teach that when caring adults are in control, the child is safe and his/her needs will still be met. M.E. Fecser 2012
Effective Style of Caring Adults• Calm, confident demeanor (calm assertiveness)• Provide clear expectations and routines• Actively involve students in lessons• Empathic• Sense of humor• Listens M.E. Fecser 2012
Trauma-Informed Care & The Reclaiming Interventions• Traumatized children tend to fall into one of two categories; internalizers or externalizers. (Dissociation vs hyper-arousal)• Disruption of attachment early in life may lead to regulatory failure that may be expressed in either form.• The Reclaiming Interventions of LSCI address both types.
Trauma-Informed Care & The Reclaiming Interventions• It is important for the adult to recognize that kids’ repetitive patterns of self destructive behavior are re- enactments of their neglect or abuse.• With both externalizers and internalizers, our goal is the same: to help bring language (e.g. cognitive control) to emotion.• When we equip kids to control their thoughts and feelings, we give them skills to successfully manage their behavior.
The Role of Trauma In a Red Flag Crisis• Children who withhold emotional expression until they reach a safe setting demonstrate a degree of emotional control not available to seriously traumatized children.• Their fight or flight reaction is under some level of modulation, though it is likely not conscious.• Yet, children who wait to express their anger, resentment, or fear have a paradoxical problem; the real life struggles that are the source of their stress require support systems, but their unleashing of abusive or violent behavior upon “safe” individuals alienates the would-be supporters. In that way, the child’s underlying belief that he is unworthy is validated.• The LSCI process helps adults avoid furthering the child’s self-fulfilling prophecy and helps him gain self-awareness and insight into his self- destructive pattern.
The Role of Trauma in a Reality Rub Crisis• Children who are hyper-aroused often misinterpret the behavior of others (Amygdala).• When a child is stuck in this pattern their brain (hippocampus) searches for memory evidence that supports their irrational beliefs and faulty perceptions. The pattern is reinforced over time because of repetition in primary relationships or the absence of effective models. This is a reactive, externalizing pattern.• These kids filter experiences through the lens of needing to believe that they are right. Because their instinct is to maintain their rigid belief, it is very hard for them to give in. For kids in this pattern, it is win or lose.• The goal of the Reality Rub Reclaiming Intervention is to help kids re-frame a crisis event so they develop a new perspective of the players in the event (including themselves) and can recognize that their choice to respond defensively actually created a real risk whereas none existed before.
The Role of Trauma in aNew Tools Crisis• New Tools kids tend to be internalizers. Their inept social behavior invites rejection and punishment.• In a New Tools crisis, a child’s behavior can be seen as evidence of deprivation with respect to social learning.• Adults help kids make the connection between their good thoughts and intentions and their wrong behavior.• Adults provide abundant affirmation of the child’s intentions while assuring him that learning and practicing new social skills can help bring about more desirable outcomes.
The Role of Trauma in a SymptomEstrangement CrisisFive Patterns of Externalizing Traumatic Stress 1. Self-Serving Thinking Patterns & Defenses 2. Lack of Empathy Toward Others 3. Extreme Narcissism 4. Active Impulses 5. Rejects Feedback from Adults
The Role of Trauma in a Massaging Numb Values CrisisThe Development of an Internalizer’s Inner Working Model• Kids who internalize their anger tend to take responsibility for all that is wrong with life and learn to punish themselves at an early age.• Some internalizers will behave in ways that get adults to punish them. This is a way of making the world more orderly and predictable. Punishment will come, and at least this way the child has some control over it.• Some internalizers provide their own pain by cutting or otherwise causing self-injury. The Massaging Numb Values Reclaiming Intervention helps kids develop value for themselves (emotional brain) and increases the likelihood thatkids will respond thoughtfully, rather than react impulsively, when coping with intense feelings.
The Role of Trauma in aManipulation of Body Boundaries Crisis • In Manipulation of Body Boundaries crises, you see the troubling interactions between an internalizer and an externalizer. • The manipulator is externalizing his anger; he believes his wants and needs are primary and creates a victim out of a vulnerable peer who desires his acceptance and friendship. • The victim internalizes his feelings, believing he is barely even worthy of friendship or acceptance and willing to do anything to obtain it—even if it means being punished (which he believes he deserves anyway.) • Without adult intervention, the two may continue indefinitely in this mutually- destructive dynamic. • The adult plays an important role in helping both the manipulator and the victim develop insight and awareness about their role in the conflict and how by continuing to play these roles, they are contributing to their own defeat.
Ultimately, what we learn frombrain science is the importanceof changing our approach asadults towards responding moresupportively and effectively totroubled children.