Fight Or Flight + Anxiety States
According to the Center for Early Childhood Mental Health Consultation, children who experience trauma can live in a near-constant state of fight or flight, with stress hormones like cortisol and adrenaline flowing, even with no real threat present. That means, a student may be triggered by something non-threatening and feel the intense emotions and fear associated with a truly frightening event. Therefore, a student may not be able to control their emotions or reactions when theyre overwhelmed by stress chemicals. Early traumatic experiences and development insults often involve fear and anxiety. Neurobiological findings show that trauma affects both the structure and chemistry of a childs developing brain. Fear and anxiety over time can alter a childs brain development. Children of trauma are at times offline and unavailable for learning due to symptoms they may experience such as intrusive thoughts, dissociation, flashbacks, or an under/over-active limbic system, says Patricia Olney Murphy, LICSW, MPA, a sexual abuse and trauma specialist in Rhode Island.
How People With Learning Disabilities Develop Mental Health Problems: The Risk Factors
People with learning disabilities are at risk of developing mental health problems. It can be caused by biological factors, stressful life events, poor coping skills, and social relationships. We all are unique, but people with learning disabilities are more vulnerable to criticism, and the way they cope with stressors is different.
Difficult life events combined with high stress levels increase the risk of developing mental health problems, even in people without learning disabilities. This results in changes in behavior like mood swings, irritability, and agitation. Below is a more straightforward explanation of how people with learning disabilities may develop mental health problems:
- Biological Factors. Medications may be prescribed to enhance concentration and attention for individuals with learning disabilities. Taking different types of medication can contribute to mental health decline.
- Stressful Life Events. Individuals with learning disabilities are more likely to experience stressful life events due to their disability, such as not landing their dream job. As a result, they do not become financially stable or are unable to form healthy relationships, which can also lead to mental health decline.
- Poor Coping Skills. Learning and coping may be different for people with learning disabilities. This makes them more likely to resort to poor coping mechanisms like substance abuse when they experience stressful life events.
Can Emotional Trauma Cause Learning Disabilities
children and adolescents who experience abuse and neglect have lower learning outcomes, higher rates of learning difficulties, and higher rates of mental health disordersmental health disordersA mental disorder, also called a mental illness or psychiatric disorder, is a behavioral or mental pattern that causes significant distress or impairment of personal functioning. Such features may be persistent, relapsing and remitting, or occur as single episodes. https://en.wikipedia.org wiki Mental_disorder View complete answer on sciencedirect.com
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Assessment And Treatment Of Ptsd In Id: What We Knew 12 Months Ago
A measure of trauma developed specifically for people with intellectual disabilities is the Lancaster and Northgate Trauma Scale . The measure has 29-item self-report and 43-item informant-report versions. Preliminary findings show promising psychometric properties in people with mild to moderate intellectual disabilities . Methods have been used to increase the accessibility of trauma assessments, and where an individual is unable to articulate a trigger event due to cognitive and communication difficulties, then, biographical timelines of events and a trauma history have been constructed with information gathered from several other sources .
Trauma And Adverse Childhood Experiences
Another way to understand how traumatic stress impacts ADHD and overall well-being is to look at the science behind adverse childhood experiences . ACEs are stressful or traumatic events occurring before the age of 18 that have negative effects on physical, social, and emotional well-being. They include but are not limited to:
As ACEs accumulate, they also increase the odds of high-risk health behaviors and can eventually lead to the most severe outcome associated with ACEs: early death.
One study of more than 17,000 adults found that, as participants reported more adverse experiences in childhood, the chances of participating in risk behaviors and of developing a chronic disease also increased.1 According to the study, adults with four or more ACEs are:
- More than twice as likely to have heart disease and experience stroke
- At about four times greater risk for chronic bronchitis or emphysema
The same study found that more than half of adults reported at least one adverse childhood experience, and more than a quarter reported two or more. Another national survey on children found similar results.2
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Adversity And The Stress Response
When confronted with an acute adverse stressor, the body releases adrenaline, triggering the fight or flight response. Cortisol, a stress hormone, is also released, helping to mobilize the bodys energy stores, activate the immune system, and even briefly enhance memory.
When this stress response is activated in children in the context of supportive adult relationships, these physiological effects are buffered. However, when these buffering relationships are unavailable, and when the stress response is long lasting, toxic stress may be the outcome.
Trauma And Children Of Color
Clinicians must be aware of the traumatic stressors that children of color uniquely experience namely, systemic and structural racism and concentrated poverty that may worsen ADHD symptoms.
Studies show that individuals who experience microaggressions and persistent racism also demonstrate sustained toxic stress responses. Children of color are also at increased risk of living in concentrated poverty, which is tied to moderate and severe ADHD as well as having an ADHD diagnosis.
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A Childhood Trauma And Academic Performance
Learning to read, write, take part in a discussion, and solve mathematical problems rests on many underlying foundationsorganization, comprehension, memory, the ability to produce work, engagement in learning, and trust. Another prerequisite for achieving classroom competency is the ability to self-regulate attention, emotions, and behavior. Not surprisingly, trauma resulting from overwhelming experiences has the power to disturb a students development of these foundations for learning. It can undermine the development of language and communication skills, thwart the establishment of a coherent sense of self, compromise the ability to attend to classroom tasks and instructions, interfere with the ability to organize and remember new information, and hinder the grasping of cause-and-effect relationshipsall of which are necessary to process information effectively. Trauma can also interfere with the capacity for creative play, which is one of the ways children learn how to cope with the problems of everyday life.
This first video below explores The Impacts of Trauma on Learning Part 1: Academic Performance.
What Are The Signs & Symptoms Of Ptsd
Most kids and teens with PTSD will:
- have upsetting thoughts of the trauma
- have bad dream or sleep problems
- have bad memories, called flashbacks, that make it seem like the trauma is still happening
- avoid things that remind them of the trauma
- be more easily startled, scared, or anxious
- feel more moody, sad, angry, or not enjoy things as before
- not remember some parts of what happened
Younger children may show more fearful and regressive behaviors They may re-enact the trauma through play.
When symptoms like these happen in the first days and weeks after the trauma, it may be called an acute stress reaction. Doctors diagnose PTSD when symptoms last longer than a month.
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What Is Posttraumatic Stress Disorder
Posttraumatic stress disorder is a psychiatric disorder that may occur in people who have experienced or witnessed a traumatic event such as a natural disaster, a serious accident, a terrorist act, war/combat, or rape or who have been threatened with death, sexual violence or serious injury.
PTSD has been known by many names in the past, such as shell shock during the years of World War I and combat fatigue after World War II, but PTSD does not just happen to combat veterans. PTSD can occur in all people, of any ethnicity, nationality or culture, and at any age. PTSD affects approximately 3.5 percent of U.S. adults every year, and an estimated one in 11 people will be diagnosed with PTSD in their lifetime. Women are twice as likely as men to have PTSD. Three ethnic groups U.S. Latinos, African Americans, and American Indians are disproportionately affected and have higher rates of PTSD than non-Latino whites.
People with PTSD have intense, disturbing thoughts and feelings related to their experience that last long after the traumatic event has ended. They may relive the event through flashbacks or nightmares they may feel sadness, fear or anger and they may feel detached or estranged from other people. People with PTSD may avoid situations or people that remind them of the traumatic event, and they may have strong negative reactions to something as ordinary as a loud noise or an accidental touch.
Signs Of Learning Disabilities
Learning disabilities are often diagnosed in childhood years, but adults should not ignore signs that might indicate learning disorders. If you suspect that your child is struggling in school because of the inability to comprehend information or process it into memory quickly enough for later use, there is likely an underlying problem affecting his learning abilities. These symptoms include :
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Educational Programs For Children With Traumatic Brain Injuries
Treatments for brain injuries vary, depending on the type and severity of the injury. Medical interventions may include surgery, long-term hospitalization, and therapies such as physical, counseling, behavioral, occupational, and speech. The patient’s first year following the injury is considered as most important to improve the long-term outlook for recovery.
To develop an appropriate Individual Education Program , it is important for educators to work with the physicians treating the student to develop a transition plan to assist with moving them back into the classroom setting. It is also important for everyone working with the student to continue to communicate throughout the first year of recovery to exchange information and develop the most appropriate strategies and Specially Designed Instruction for the student’s unique needs.
How Can Parents Help
If your child has been through trauma, here are things you can do:
- Help your child feel safe. They may need extra time, comfort, and care from you for a while.
- Help your child relax. Invite them to take a few slow breaths with you. Breathe in while you count to 3. Breathe out while you count to 5.
- Do things together that you enjoy. Trauma can make it harder to feel the positive emotions that naturally help kids recharge. Play, laugh, enjoy nature, make music or art, cook. These activities can reduce stress and build your childs resilience.
- Reassure your child. Let them know they will get through this. And that you are there to help.
- Let your childs doctor know what your child has been through. Get a referral to a mental health professional .
- Tell your childs teacher that your child went through a trauma. Kids with PTSD may have more trouble focusing on schoolwork. Ask for your child to have extra help or more time to do schoolwork if they need it for a while.
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How Does Therapy Help
Trauma therapy gives kids a way to safely share their feelings, tell their story, and get support.
In therapy, kids learn coping and calming skills to help them deal with anxiety they feel after a trauma. This makes it easier to talk about what theyve been through.
Through therapy, kids learn to adjust some of their thoughts about the trauma. They learn to let go of any guilt or shame about what happened to them. Slowly, they learn to face things they used to avoid.
Therapy helps children gain courage and confidence. Kids use their strengths to cope.
Disinhibited Social Engagement Disorder
Disinhibited social engagement disorder occurs in children who have experienced severe social neglect or deprivation before the age of 2. Similar to reactive attachment disorder, it can occur when children lack the basic emotional needs for comfort, stimulation and affection, or when repeated changes in caregivers prevent them from forming stable attachments.
Disinhibited social engagement disorder involves a child engaging in overly familiar or culturally inappropriate behavior with unfamiliar adults. For example, the child may be willing to go off with an unfamiliar adult with minimal or no hesitation. These behaviors cause problems in the childs ability to relate to adults and peers. Moving the child to a normal caregiving environment improves the symptoms. However, even after placement in a positive environment, some children continue to have symptoms through adolescence. Developmental delays, especially cognitive and language delays, may co-occur along with the disorder.
The prevalence of disinhibited social engagement disorder is unknown, but it is thought to be rare. Most severely neglected children do not develop the disorder. Treatment involves the child and family working with a therapist to strengthen their relationship.
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How Trauma Affects Kids In School
Ongoing exposure to neglect, abuse, homelessness or violence causes learning and behavior problems in children. Signs of trauma and tips for helping kids who’ve been traumatized.
- What kinds of trauma tend to affect kids in the classroom?
- Which skills do traumatized kids need the most help with at school?
- How can teachers help kids after theyve been hurt by trauma?
Minimize The Effects Of Trauma & Toxic Stress
Several factors are known to buffer the effects of trauma and toxic stress in children, like:
- A supportive family environment and social networks
- Concrete support for basic needs
- Nurturing parenting skills
- Adequate housing
- Access to health care and social services
An integrated healthcare model that includes wrap-around care coordination and partnerships with schools and community-based organizations is the best way to optimize these powerful, protective factors.
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What Are Learning Disabilities
Learning disabilities are neurological disorders that affect a persons ability to learn and process information. These disorders can impact a persons skills in reading, writing, math, or listening.
People with learning disabilities may have trouble understanding verbal instructions, remembering things they have been told, or completing schoolwork. They may also struggle with tasks that involve coordination and motor skills.
Furthermore, learning disabilities are not the result of poor parenting or intelligence. They are caused by differences in the brain that make it difficult for people to learn in the traditional way.
Adhd And Trauma: Next Steps
The content for this article was derived from the ADDitude Expert Webinar How Stress and Trauma Affect ADHD in Children of All Colors and How to Heal the Wounds by Nicole Brown, M.D., MPH, MHS, which was broadcast live on October 15, 2020.
SUPPORT ADDITUDEThank you for reading ADDitude. To support our mission of providing ADHD education and support, please consider subscribing. Your readership and support help make our content and outreach possible. Thank you.
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Complex Ptsd: Trauma Learning And Behavior In The Classroom
Complex PTSD: Trauma, Learning, and Behavior in the Classroom
Complex post-traumatic stress disorder occurs with repeated ongoing exposure to traumatic events. Often CPTSD is a result of early traumatic relationships with caregivers. In this article we consider the effects of early traumatic relationships on learning.
Many children with a history of trauma have trouble with learning in the classroom and do not perform as well as their peers. The connection between early interpersonal trauma and learning is particularly relevant when considering the ability to maintain attention and concentration. Often, early traumatic relationships impair more than emotion regulation abilities. Cognitive capacities are also deeply affected since the ability to focus and concentrate is largely dependent upon emotion regulation.
Early attachment relationships and learning
Early relationships have a direct impact on cognitive, social and emotional development. This is because an infant/child who is raised in a safe and supportive environment has ample opportunity for exploration as well as the availability of comfort from a trusted caregiver.
Attachment researchers call this phenomenon a secure base in which the caregiver encourages the child to lay, with providing safety and security for the infant when needed. Exploratory play coupled with protection provide an optimal environment for learning. Researchers have noted traumatized infants tend to spend less time in exploratory play .
Trauma And Organisational Issues
Societal feedback at micro level and macro level may be important mediating factors in the development and maintenance of trauma . Given that reactions to trauma develop as an interaction with variables in the social landscape and are not just a process located within the individual, it is important to consider environment factors . Trauma-informed care considers the impact of organisational structure and procedures and staff on traumatised individuals . The aim of trauma-informed care services is that organisations be more attuned to the possibility of trauma in a persons past and its role in the aetiology of current presentation. TIC promotes awareness raising to increase staff insight and understanding regarding trauma, so the possibility of past trauma is held in mind .
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The Link Between Ptsd And Learning Disabilities
The idea that PTSD might lead to learning disabilities isnt new, but it hasnt yet to be added to the widespread understanding of the issues that affect people with PTSD.
An illuminating 2012 study explored the ways that PTSD can negatively impact associative learning.
The experiment involved groups of Israeli police officers diagnosed with PTSD and groups of Hungarian civilians with PTSD. These groups also included members who had experienced trauma without a diagnosis of PTSD. The study found that all the subjects were able to complete the first stage of the Acquired Equivalence Task, which involved learning an initial stimulus-outcome association.
The second part of the experiment involved applying the learned stimulus-outcome association in a novel situation. This is where the impact of PTSD became clear. The subjects who did not have PTSD were able to apply what they had learned in the first stage to the second stage of novel experiences. The subjects with PTSD were not able to apply what they had learned.
One of the potential issues hindering the ability to understand the connection between PTSD and learning disabilities is presented through the learning disabilities themselves. A 2013 study found that people with severe learning disabilities often lack the ability to communicate that they have experienced trauma.