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TRAUMA IN

CHILDREN
IMPLICATIONS FOR
PROGRAMMING

WHAT IS TRAUMA?
Childhood exposure to interpersonal traumatic stressors is extremely common and has
been described as a silent epidemic (Kaffman, 2009, cited in DAndrea et. al, 2012)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z8vZxDa2KPM

CLUSTER OF BEHAVIOURS

achievement below grade level

high rates of office referrals, suspensions,


expulsions

reading delays

language and verbal processing deficits

greater tendency to be misdiagnosed

decreased concentration

withdrawal, depression

difficulty with organization, problem-solving


and planning

jumpy or easily startled by sounds,


movements or unanticipated physical
contact

HIGHER LIKELIHOOD OF SEEING


THE FOLLOWING DIAGNOSES

ADHD, including inattention, difficulty with executive functioning and


sleeping disruptions

ODD

Conduct Disorder

emotional lability- resembles bipolar disorder but more rapidly fluctuating

aggressive behaviours

eating disorders or somatic (body) complaints

flat affect

self-harm

RECOMMENDATIONS FOR
EDUCATORS

Understand what trauma looks like in the classroom


and respond through compassion, not discipline

When appropriate, talk to parents and other


professionals working with the child

Work on becoming a trauma-informed school


(shared understanding among all staff)

provide consistency and stability in your students


(children with trauma histories have trouble
discriminating between safe and unsafe
environments)

avoid labeling children negatively - children with


complex trauma label themselves as bad or
crazy

be concrete (youre in the red zone, use XX


strategy now)

adapt assignments, tests, etc (reduce demand for


verbal processing, attention/memory, or other
lagging skills)

TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF (children with complex


trauma often have compromised attachment and
can be emotionally draining)

PROGRAMMING
CONSIDERATIONS

Must be preventative as
well as responsive

View of students behaviour


as defiant or willful will
have a detrimental effect
(on short- and long-term
basis)

Student may be defiant


because he/she lacks the
organization to carry out
strategies

**Sensitivity to the impact of staff responses on


student behaviour (verbal and non-verbal)

What do you sense from the student? Are you feeling


triggered?

Support for teacher/EA when the students behaviour


is challenging or confusing

Who is the students safe go-to person?

Is there a need for a safety plan?

Student needs to be regulated (at least yellow


moving to green) before consequences are
discussed

**When students stress increases, he/she will


access the trauma. Consider the impact of this.

PROGRAMMING TO INCLUDE
STRATEGIES FOR RESILIENCE

Zones of Regulation

Counselling groups

CICO

Predictable and effective reinforcement program

Quiet time, prayer

Frequent contact home (especially where attachment is at-risk)

Mobility breaks/physical activity

Social stories or buddy for peer modelling at first

Predicting potential triggers

SELF-CARE

Develop (and reliably use) a solid


classroom management plan

Manage time in order to feel less


rushed

Free your mind (take mental breaks,


reduce clutter)

Exercise

Dont skip lunch (or breakfast!)

Rest

Focus on routines

Find support

TABLE TALK: THINK OF A STUDENT IN YOUR


SCHOOL WHOM YOU SUSPECT (OR KNOW) HAS
BEEN IMPACTED BY INTERPERSONAL TRAUMA?
!

WHAT OUTWARD SIGNS DO YOU SEE AT


SCHOOL?