Tag Archives: Adverse Childhood Experiences Study (ACES)

Community Violence Affects Children More Than We Realize… What should parents know?

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“Infant mental health” refers to how well a child develops socially and emotionally from birth to three.

ZEROtoThree.org

“Understanding infant mental health is the key to preventing and treating the mental health problems of very young children and their families. It also helps guide the development of healthy social and emotional behaviors. Learn more about infant mental health and how important trusted relationships are for infants and children.”

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Following is an excerpt from my latest book project, I Worry About The Kids, a workbook for parents, teachers, and mentors…

No child of any age should have to live anywhere that is not wholesome, safe, secure, and surrounded by loving human beings!

According to the Handbook of Infant Mental Health, general symptoms of post-traumatic stress in young children can include:

  • Re-experiencing the trauma through intrusive and distressing recollections of the event through flashbacks, and nightmares (Note: Spontaneous and intrusive memories may not necessarily appear distressing and may be expressed as play reenactment.)
  • Avoidance of places, people, and activities that are reminders of the trauma, and emotional numbness.
  • Increased arousal such as difficulty sleeping and concentrating, feeling jumpy, and being easily irritated and angered.
  • Increased anxiety in strange situations.
  • Recurrent distressing dreams related to the content and/or feeling of the traumatic events. (Note: It may not be possible to ascertain that the frightening content is related to the traumatic event.)
  • Reactions as if the traumatic events are recurring; the most extreme being a complete loss of awareness of present surroundings. (Note: Such trauma-specific reenactment may occur in play.)
  • Hyper-vigilance, exaggerated startle response, irritability, withdrawal.
  • Diminished interest or participation in significant activities such as play.
  • Persistent reduction in expression of positive emotions.
  • Clinginess to caretaker.
  • Over/under use of words related to the trauma.
  • Distress in relationships with parents, siblings, peers, or other caregivers, or with school behavior not attributable to another medical condition.

Just because children cannot or do not talk about their feelings does not mean the feelings are not there. If not recognized and treated early on, post-traumatic stress disorder will manifest later in the lives of these children.

Steve Sparks, Author, Reconciliation: A Son’s Story and My Journey of Healing in Life After Trauma, Part 1&2… Click the highlighted text for my author page to order books and other stuff from Amazon.

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Steve Sparks, Author, Blogger, Child Advocate, and Mental Health Champion…

Child Abuse Primes the Brain for the Future… Saving our kids from the baggage of post-trauma stress!

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Child Abuse and Maltreatment Affects Brain Development in Early Childhood…

Child Abuse Primes the Brain…, TIME

“Child maltreatment has been called the tobacco industry of mental health. Much the way smoking directly causes or triggers predispositions for physical disease, early abuse may contribute to virtually all types of mental illness.”

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My latest book project “I Worry About the Kids,” gives this topic significant attention in a workbook format to help parents, teachers, and mentors become far more aware and effective in working with the symptoms of child abuse.  My first edition of this book, “My Journey of Healing in Life After Trauma, Part 2,” is published as a robust ebook on the Amazon KDP platform.  Stay tuned for more…

Steve Sparks, Author, Reconciliation: A Son’s Story and My Journey of Healing in Life After Trauma, Part 1&2… Click the highlighted text for my author page, and to order books, etc.

SteveSunriver

Steve Sparks, Author, Blogger, Child Advocate

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Saving your children from the emotional baggage of early childhood trauma…

Pre-school and Kindergartners…Big test for kids affected by trauma…

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Trauma Affected Pre-school & Kindergartner Kids Need More Help…ByHealthDay Reporter Sharecare News…

“Childhood traumas of various sorts can cause kindergartners to struggle in class as well as life, new research contends.

A study of more than 1,000 urban children showed those with difficult experiences up until age 5 had math and reading difficulties and difficulty focusing in kindergarten, and were also more likely to have social problems and to be aggressive toward others.”

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The referenced report was shared with me by my good friend, Byron, who is also a child advocate.  His work with Sharecare is often a great resource in my own research and is an excellent reference for parents, teachers, and mentors.

Too many children are caught in the middle in early life when there is violence in the home caused by the symptoms connected with family circumstances of post-trauma stress; including, alcohol, drugs, crime, domestic violence, and poverty, lack of education, developmentally delayed parents, and overall chaos in the home or neighborhood. Some homes are just plain scary, causing kids to retreat and become silent at home and school. These are the kids we need to help the most before they reach age 6 or 7, when at that time the challenge of changing brain development becomes a longer term retrofit process and treatment regimen.

Please take a closer look at the referenced Sharecare News article.  Think about the children in your life who are just starting school for the first time.  Pre-school and kindergarten can be an opportunity to help kids who have experienced traumatic events at a young age, if we know what to look for.  As  trauma informed adults we can make a big difference in helping youngsters get a positive kick-start on the first day of school.

Steve Sparks, Author, Reconciliation: A Son’s Story and My Journey of Healing in Life After Trauma, Part 1&2… Click the highlighted text for my author page and to order books…

SteveSunriver

Steve Sparks, Author, Blogger, Child Advocate

Childhood Trauma…”It is not what is wrong with you, it is what happened to you…”

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Nadine Burke Harris’ healthcare practice focuses on a little-understood, yet very common factor in childhood that can profoundly impact adult-onset disease: trauma.

 

Lifelong effects of childhood trauma…  A powerful TED talk…

Filmed September 2014 at TEDMED 2014

Nadine Burke Harris: How childhood trauma affects health across a lifetime…

 

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Not unlike thousands of kids during the post WWII era, I grew up believing there was something wrong with me…  Abused children for whatever reason get stuck with the sad feelings of guilt and constant negative self talk, asking the same question over and over and over again, “what is wrong with me?”  This is a huge barrier to mental and physical health to carry forward in life until there is awareness then healing of a traumatic past.  Most of us survive and thrive carrying around baggage from past trauma, but not without life challenges, and in the worst case scenario severe and life threatening mental and physical health damage. 

I feel lucky and blessed to have discovered later in life the roots of my troublesome and nagging feelings of guilt and poor self confidence.   Although I have no regrets and live with a healthy perspective at this stage in my life…living with a traumatic past is painful.  You really have to work hard to pull up your boot straps each and every day and put forward one foot at a time.  It is a double down process of staying positive and focused on succeeding in life. 

Listen to Nadine Burke Harris and learn more about the lifelong mental and physical challenges of childhood trauma.  Her message will help you become and better parent and a trauma survivor.  Learning the value of awareness and treatment strategies can build a better quality of life, and even save lives.  We didn’t have this kind of awareness during my younger years.  I see now that it is a spiritual gift to know the roots of past traumatic life experiences, including child abuse and maltreatment.  I live today with a peace of mind that only came from my own reconciliation and desire to be free of the emotional baggage of childhood trauma…

Steve Sparks, Author, Reconciliation: A Son’s Story and My Journey of Healing in Life After Trauma, Part 1…  Click the highlighted text for my author page…

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Reconciliation: A Son’s Story by Steve Sparks, published in 2011. Click the highlighted text for my author page…

 

Recognize the signs of domestic violence and abuse… Awareness is the first step in healing…

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Signs and Symptoms of Domestic Violence…”  click highlighted text for more…

“There are many signs of an abusive relationship. The most telling sign is fear of your partner.

Domestic Violence & Abuse Help Guide… Quote from this website article…

“Domestic violence and abuse can happen to anyone, yet the problem is often overlooked, excused, or denied. This is especially true when the abuse is psychological, rather than physical. Noticing and acknowledging the signs of an abusive relationship is the first step to ending it. No one should live in fear of the person they love. If you recognize yourself or someone you know in the following descriptions of abuse, reach out.” 

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When I write or talk about the subject of domestic violence and abuse, I get shivers and flashbacks of my own childhood and young adult experience.  One such memory is when my Dad freaked out when my brother and I came home with a jaywalking ticket while we were walking around Long Beach, California back in the early 1960’s.  I have a full brain catalog of painful childhood memories that seem to stick around forever.  In this case, and many others the memories are vivid.  My father exploded on many occasions when we were growing up for lots of small things.  Dad suffered severely from the emotional baggage of WWII and Korean War.  We were constantly in fear of him, and expected to be hit in the head on a moments notice and punished severely for things that were not always clear.  Mother would try to protect us but was mostly fearful of him too.

I carried all this emotional baggage with me for decades until finally discovering that talking and writing about it was actually healing.  These days in my later years in life I feel a peace of mind, especially since writing my first book and this blog.  This is my way of keeping the pain of the past at a safe distance.  My work in community service making a difference for children and families through my work with Neighbors for Kids in Depoe Bay, Oregon keeps me firmly grounded.  My wife, Judy, is my best friend and soul mate, who provides loving support every day, is a huge factor in my journey of healing as well.  Once becoming aware of the circumstances of domestic violence and child abuse, you can begin your own journey of healing.  But it is a work in progress.  The memories of a painful past come back to haunt most trauma survivors unless we confront the demons head on…

Steve Sparks, Author, Reconciliation: A Son’s Story and My Journey of Healing in Life After Trauma…  Click on the highlighted text for my author page…

 

Screening Kids to Prevent Childhood Trauma… Ask not what is wrong with your child, ask what happened!

 

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CDC’s Adverse Childhood Experiences Study (ACES) Click highlighted text for more…

 

 

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Tabitha Lawson and her two happy children

Parents and Teachers Help Prevent Childhood Trauma (ACES)  Quote from this website article from ACES too High News…

“When parents bring their four-month-olds to a well-baby checkup at the Children’s Clinic in Portland, OR, Drs. Teri Petersen, R.J. Gillespie and their 15 other partners ask the parents about their adverse childhood experiences (ACEs).

When parents bring a child who’s bouncing off the walls and having nightmares to the Bayview Child Health Center in San Francisco, Dr. Nadine Burke Harris doesn’t ask: “What’s wrong with this child?” Instead, she asks, “What happened to this child?” and calculates the child’s ACE score.”

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When I was growing up in the 1950’s and early 1960’s the conversation at home and in school was “what is wrong with your child rather than what happened to this child.”  Childhood trauma is not new.  We still have toxic homes and neighborhoods, but parents and teachers know more in the 21st Century thanks to the CDC ACES study and testing.  “The ACE Study findings suggest that certain experiences are major risk factors for the leading causes of illness and death as well as poor quality of life in the United States.”

As a child advocate and vice chair of Neighbors for Kids, a popular after-school program in Depoe Bay, Oregon, we often have to address all types of special needs of kids, including the effects of trauma.  The more we know from collaboration with public school teachers and parents, we are able to pay particular attention to traumatized children and help them effectively.  I know from my own traumatic childhood experience that growing up feeling alone, scared, and asking myself “what is wrong with me” or hearing “what is wrong with you” had long term damaging consequences on my ability to build self confidence and feel connected with other kids and my adult mentors.  Eventually joining the US Navy at age 17 as a young adult saved the day.  No child should suffer from emotional neglect and abuse and believe there is something wrong with them…early recognition and special attention is critical!

When you observe a child bouncing off the walls, or looking scared and lonely, please show love and compassion.  As a teacher, mentor, and parent you are in a great position to help children heal from a traumatic experience by seeking more information about life at home by asking “what happened” and providing the loving care and attention all children deserve…sooner than later…

Steve Sparks, Author, My Journey of Healing in Life After Trauma, Part 1, and Reconciliation: A Son’s Story…  Click highlighted text for my author page…