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“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.

How To (Re)Wire Your Child’s Brain By Ron Huxley, LMFT

 

Brains that fire together, wire together: Children heal in family relationship that are based on attunement, nonjudgement, and structure. Children act badly because they feel badly about themselves, their world, and caregivers. Traumatized children will re-act out their trauma inside of themselves despite their outer circumstances. You can rewire a child’s brain by allowing them to have new, positive experiences. This requires parents to focus on attachment as well as behavior. When they are in the middle of a meltdown, try to “connect, then re-direct”. Use short, concise words oozing with empathy. Once the child is calm, engage (don’t enrage) the child’s thinking brain to come up with ways they can “clean up the mess” that has been made. There is no shame in this scenario. Just learning how to repair a relationship and build connections. If forgiveness needs to be asked for or given, help the child go through the steps with you or another person. Have them write, draw or act out what “yucky” thought they were thinking and then come up with opposite, more positive thoughts.

Brains are malleable and experience dependent: This may sound confusing but it is a hope-filled statement! No matter what your child’s trauma, he or she can heal. Malleability means flexible and plastic. It can repair through new, healing experiences. Our brains are also experience dependent which means that if they learn negative ways to think and act (surviving), then they can re-learn positive ways to think and act (thriving). This may require that we turn down the sensitivity of the “fight and flight” system in the brain that sees everything as a threat or potential harm. This is why children sabotage good things in their life. They don’t believe they deserve it. We can change this perspective by teaching them how to repair after a rupture (disconnection) through forgiveness and “cleaning up our messes” and by learning who God creating them to be. Our “orphans” have orphan mentality that must be rewired. When we are traumatize, we believe lies about ourselves that are inherently negative. Take these thoughts captive and replace them with new ideas about who they are as “son’s and daughters”.

Get more information on holding a trauma-informed, attachment focused, and faith-based seminar for your organization or association by contacting Ron at rehuxley@gmail.com

Do you have Trauma A or Trauma B?

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There are two types of trauma: Trauma A and Trauma B. Do you know the difference? Which one has impacted you? One is much more recognized by society but both are important to healing from trauma, managing anger and aggression and improving our family relationships.

(via https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZXWUrRXSSoU)

Get our special report “5 Steps to Transforming Trauma” here!

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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)