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Resilience: The Biology of Stress and the Science of Hope

Listen to my radio interview reflecting on the documentary “Resilience”, the Adverse Childhood Experiences study (ACES), and my thoughts on how to heal from trauma and child abuse.

Click here: http://kcbx.org/post/resilience

aces pyramid 2

“The child may not remember, but the body remembers.” Resilience: The Biology of Stress and the Science of Hope is a one-hour documentary that delves into the science of Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) and the birth of a new movement to treat and prevent Toxic Stress. While the original research was controversial, experts now consider the findings to have revealed one of the most important public health findings of a generation. Understood to be one of the leading causes of everything from heart disease and cancer to substance abuse and depression, extremely stressful experiences in childhood can alter brain development and have lifelong effects on health and behavior.

Join host Kris Kington-Barker as she speaks with guests Nisha AbdulCadar, an M.D., F.A.A.P. and Pediatrician with Martha’s Place Children’s Assessment Center and Ron Huxley a LMFT who provides faith-based, trauma-informed therapy for individuals and families about the upcoming movie screening and research behind “Resilience,” a powerful documentary film by James Redford and Karen Pritzker that reveals, toxic stress can trigger hormones that wreak havoc on the brains and bodies of children which can put them at a an increased risk for disease, homelessness, prison time, and even early death. Join the conversation and listen to how trailblazers like these in pediatrics, education, and social welfare are using cutting-edge science and field-tested therapies to fight back against the effects of toxic stress and greatly improve the health of our future generations.

Central Coast Voices is sponsored by ACTION for Healthy Communities in collaboration with KCBX and made possible through underwriting by Joan Gellert-Sargen.

“Pull Yourself Together”: Trauma and Sensory Integration Issues

 

Our bodies have 5 senses and 7 sensory data inputs:

1.Sight

2. Smell

3. Hearing

4. Taste

5. Touch

6. Balance

7. Body Position

All of our senses organize information from inside and outside our body and communicate the “data” to the brain. This organization allows us to know where our body is in time and space, to feel safe in one’s own body, and to perceive our body’s relationship to others and the environment.

A child who has experienced trauma typically has a dysintegration of sensory information that will result in a dysregulation of thinking and emotion. They will not be aware of where their bodies are in time and space, cannot feel safe in their own body, and are unable to make connections to others and the environment.

Stressful sensory input is handled by the lower levels of the brain (brain stem and limbic system) and the body and overseen by the higher, executive level of the brain. If the stressful input is mild, normal coordination between all levels of the brain and the body coordinate smoothly. If the stress is high and overwhelming, the lower levels will “hijack” the higher levels to protect the body. This is called the “fight or flight” reaction to perceived danger. If these two mechanisms are not able to bring the body back into a place of safety, the brain will react by “freezing” or shutting down.

The fight, flight and freeze reactions are designed to allow the higher order areas of the brain to continue operating so that is appears that traumatized children are functioning in some areas of life but there will continue to be gross areas of dysfunction in development. This will manifest in “gaps” between a child’s age and stage of development. They may be 15 years of age chronologically but act like a 5 year old socially and emotionally. Parenting strategies will have to adjust to meet both the 5 year old and the 15 year to close the gap.

Sensory “confusion” will drive traumatized children to be sensory seekers and/or sensory defenders. Sensory seekers look a lot like children diagnosed with attentional deficits. They appear impulsive, can’t sit still, wiggle a lot, touch things, put things in their mouths, tear things apart, easily distracted, etc. These are attempts to get more information about themselves and the world around them. Sensory defenders are quickly overwhelmed by certain sensory information in one or more of the sensory systems: visual, auditory, kinesthetic, oral, and olfactory. They will complain about the brightness of lights, the hum of electric motors, dislike loud noises, be irritated by the feel of clothing on their skins, be picky eaters, sensitive to perfumes and candles, etc. Children can have combinations of both sensory seeking and sensory defending.

There are 4 treatment strategies to help traumatized children with sensory integration issues:

1. Awareness

2. Adaption

3. Exposure

4. Advocacy

Awareness allows parents and children to be aware of their sensory triggers and needs. Adaption provides assistance to the child to get the sensory information they need or takes steps to avoid sensory overload. Exposure, in small increments over time, helps children build tolerance and increase functioning. Advocacy requests support from the child’s academic and social environment so that teachers and friends understand the issues and incorporate adaptations as well.

Try laughing at your problems today!

inner-healing:

Attachment researchers discovered that laughter turns on the reward pathways in the brain responsible for please, improved memory, attention and focus, motivation and problem-solving. Got a problem that feels too big or over powering? Take back your power over it by laughing at it today. Go on, give a big belly laugh about it right now.

Parents: The Source of Children’s Re-sources

 

Children must have a source of satisfaction and security in order for them to re-source their ability to manage themselves and their emotions. A positive parental source responds to a child’s need and satisfies it. This cycle of distress and restoration builds trust, security, and connection. Fortunately, parents only have to be “good enough”. There is no such thing as a perfect parent or a perfect child. There are many opportunities in parenting to prove you are a trustworthy “source” of support. This gives children the chance to “re-source” that support in themselves.

Abused Children Similar to War Vets

Children who have been abused or witnessed violence suffer similar trauma to war veterans…

LONDON (Reuters) ­ Children exposed to family violence show the same pattern of activity in their brains as soldiers exposed to combat, scientists said on Monday. In a study in the journal Current Biology, researchers used brain scans to explore the impact of physical abuse or domestic violence on children’s emotional development and found that exposure to it was linked to increased activity in two brain areas when children were shown pictures of angry faces.

Previous studies that scanned the brains of soldiers exposed to violent combat situations showed the same pattern of heightened activity in these two brain areas ­­ the anterior insula and the amygdala ­­ which experts say are associated with detecting potential threats. This suggests that both maltreated children and soldiers may have adapted to become “hyper­aware” of danger in their environment, the researchers said. “Enhanced reactivity to a…threat cue such as anger may represent an adaptive response for these children in the short term, helping keep them out of danger,” said Eamon McCrory of Britain’s University College London, who led the study.

Parental Punishment Cause Children’s Anxiety

Parents who regularly punish or dismiss their children’s anxieties could be setting their kids up for obesity, warns a new study.

That’s because kids who fail to learn how to regulate their negative emotions – a skill that can be fostered by affirmative parenting – are more likely to turn to food for comfort, which can eventually lead to obesity.

That’s the overarching conclusion of a University of Illinois study, which found a connection between poor parenting skills, defined in the study as “insecure parents,” and a child’s propensity for consuming junk food.

“The study found that insecure parents were significantly more likely to respond to their children’s distress by becoming distressed themselves or dismissing their child’s emotion,” said lead author Kelly Bost.

“For example, if a child went to a birthday party and was upset because of a friend’s comment there, a dismissive parent might tell the child not to be sad, to forget about it. Or the parent might even say: Stop crying and acting like a baby or you’re never going over again.”

Instead, parents should learn to help their children describe what they’re feeling and work on problem-solving strategies with them.

Insecure parenting was also related to “comfort feeding,” as well as fewer mealtimes and more screen time, all known factors that have been linked to unhealthy eating habits and childhood obesity.

For the study, 497 parents of toddlers ages two and three were asked to answer 32 questions that gauged the nature of their relationship to the children. Parents were also asked to rate themselves on a scale that measured depression and anxiety.

They then responded to questions about how they handled their children’s negative emotions, family mealtimes, and the estimated hours of TV viewing a day.

Meanwhile, a study out of The Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto released last year also found that preschool children are less likely to be obese if they live in a safe neighborhood and within walking distance of parks and retail services.

Read more: http://www.ctvnews.ca/health/how-parenting-styles-can-lead-to-childhood-obesity-1.1671384#ixzz2sYgP40gj

(via How parenting styles can lead to childhood obesity | CTV News)