AVERsive childhood events (aces) - do you have students experiencing toxic stress in their lives
I have so fortunate to have a dream position with the New Westminster School District. I support and provide resources to students who are struggling in school. I also work with their teachers, parents and other support people, both school and community based. My position is called District Behaviour Support Teacher.
As I am both a certified teacher and a Board Certified Behaviour Analyst (BCBA), I usually find it quite straightforward to help school-based teams determine the function of the behaviour (FBA) and write a Positive Behaviour Support plan to help the school teach the student new, more beneficial skills.
However, I have a few students that are not making progress despite everything the school, community, medical profession and home are trying to provide. I have gotten to know the children and their families well as we have now worked together for years. These are young children who have so many strengths and it is heartbreaking to see them in emotional and physical distress, day after day and not able to learn or interact with their peers.
I recently accompanied a young mom to visit her child's psychiatrist. The psychiatrist told her that she should be satisfied that her child is staying at school all day under the supervision of caring people. That's all she can expect. Really? He doesn't have a severe intellectual disability or autism. He is creative, kind and imaginative. He WANTS to learn. And yet, he is totally unable to take part in any type of learning or activity with his peers without shutting down or exploding. We've been through assessment programs and have a huge Case Management team. We're following their recommendations. What are we all doing wrong? Are we doing anything wrong?
Even more distressing is that this is not an isolated scenario in our school district.
Helping these children will mean a very steep learning curve for parents, school professionals and me. I'll attempt to share the information and resources that I have found helpful in this blog and on my website. Together, perhaps we can make some positive changes for these very vulnerable children.
Today I received a link to an excellent article which explains some of the brain science behind trauma, toxic stress and ACEs. www.acesconnection.com is a great source of current information.
The Developing Brain & Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs)
LISA FREDERIKSEN 4/26/188:51 AM
Thanks to an explosion in scientific research now possible with imaging technologies, such as fMRI and SPECT, experts can actually see how the brain develops. This helps explain why exposure to adverse childhood experiences can so deeply influence and change a child's brain and thus their physical and emotional health and quality of life across their lifetime.
Read the entire article at