Tag Archives: Childhood Trauma

Trauma Informed Schools… “It’s Okay to not be Okay…” Newport High School Cubs Lead…

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Trauma Informed Oregon  click here for more… Quoting…

“Trauma Informed Oregon is a statewide collaborative aimed at preventing and ameliorating the impact of adverse experiences on children, adults and families. We work in partnership to promote and sustain trauma informed policies and practices across physical, mental, and behavioral health systems and to disseminate promising strategies to support wellness and resilience.”

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While attending the Lincoln County Mental Health Advisory Committee (MHAC) meeting last week, I could not have been more pleased to receive a copy of the Newport HS Harbor Light Newsletter this last week, entitled “Depression, Anxiety and Mental Illness!” It was equally gratifying and encouraging to see Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) model on the agenda.

Following are quotes from Harbor Light by teachers and students…  The newsletter is not yet accessible on a website,  so it is my goal to provide a summary, including relevant reference links mentioned in the newsletter.  This is an outstanding read and highly recommended!

Samantha Murphy, Advisor Intro…

“The elusive nature of anxiety and depression makes them easy conditions to question and difficult conditions to understand unless you’ve experienced them.  They do exist, however. They are real and they are often debilitating.”

Ruby Quintero, Editor Intro…

“All levels of anxiety and depression are very real emotions that all people should be aware of as well as inherit a particular level of sensitivity to.”

Brooke Foiles,”The Weight of Depression.”

“I knew if I went to the doctor I would have to step on the one thing that had been drowning me in depression for so many months…a scale.”

Ruby Quintero, “Less than Good Enough.”

“That extra skin on your stomach, your neck, your legs, your arms, it’s perfect.  You are the best you can be and that’s all that matters.  Someone is going to come along and appreciate you for who you are and give you the world.”

Hallie Ezzell, “Statistics.”

According to the National Alliance on Mental Health Illness (NAMI): click here for more…

  • “One in five children ages 13-18 have or will have a serious mental illness.”
  • “50 percent of all lifetime cases of mental illnesses begin by the young age of 14.”
  • “About 50 percent of students age 14 and older who struggle with a mental illness drop out of high school.”
  • “70 percent of youth that are in state and local juvenile justice systems struggle with a mental illness.”

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC): click here for more…

Between 2005 and 2011, children ages 3-17 were diagnosed with:

  • “6.8 percent diagnosed with ADHD.”
  • “3.5 percent with behaviorial or conduct issue.”
  • “3 percent with anxiety.”
  • “2.1 percent with depression.”

According to a 2010 report from Youth.gov,  (click here for more)

  • “49.5 percent of US adolescents met the criteria for a mental health condition.”
  • “22.2 percent classified as as exhibiting severe impairment and/or distress.”

Ruben Krueger, “A Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing: A Problem for All.”

“Yet, because depression is not as visible as a bone fracture or heart attack, diagnosis and treatment often remain neglected like a bridge rusting until collapse.”

Anonymous, “Undiagnosed.”

“I guess the message I want to send to parents (teachers, mentors): if your child comes to you for help, please don’t write it off.  Try your best so that they can try theirs.”

Sophie Goodwin-Rice, “Freezing Water.”

Above everything else, though, I know that anxiety is real.  It isn’t a cry for attention, or just a few choppy waves as you’re sailing through life. It is unexplainable, unpredicatable and undeniable.  It’s struggling to keep your head above the freezing water, and always waiting for the wind to calm down again.”

Anonymous, “I Can’t Breath.”

“When I was eight years old, I was raped by my 13-year old brother.  Ever since, I haven’t been able to be in the same room alone with a guy.  Let alone a guy I didn’t know.”

River Rundell, “Codependency: When You’re Not Helping.”

“One sign you may have a codependent relationship in the works is if your parents or other guardians were in a dysfunctional relationship.”

Luke McCarthy, “Coexisting Conditions:  Juggling Burdens.”

“Depression and anxiety, for example, coexist very often.  About 85% of people with major depression also have significant anxiety.”

Macy Dexter, “A Look At Teen Suicide.”

“Depression, bipolar disorder and schizophrenia, as well as other mental illnesses (such as anxiety disorder, post traumatic stress disorder, and eating disorders) are all found to correlate with suicide across the globe.”

Darius Seah, “Selective Mutism: Living Without a Voice.”

“Selective Mutism, a complex anxiety disorder, typically begins in early childhood.  Symptoms include a consistent failure to speaking in a specific social situations, such as presenting in class or at a family gathering.”

Levi Kay, “Adversity Defines You.”

“In total, I spent twelve months on crutches, during the course of my junior year.  I had two more surgeries and faced constant serious complications in recovery.  As a result of all of this, I became increasingly discouraged and depressed.”

Courtney Saccomano, “When Depression Becomes a Crisis.”

“With depression it can feel like you’re all alone in your head, even though you are surrounded by so many people.”

“People will believe physical pain more than mental.  In sharing their story, the Harbor Light hopes to enlighten those who also struggle with these issues and let them know that getting help is nothing to be ashamed of.”

-Ruby Quintero

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For those who suffer from mental health challenges, especially kids, it is not easy to be comfortable with the idea, “It’s okay to not be okay.”  As a survivor of childhood and young adult traumatic and toxic home circumstances, it took me six decades as an adult to find a path of healing.  What is clear from my own experience and research in these later years is that awareness is the first step in finding a path to recovery and peace of mind. The very best news is to see the policy of “Trauma Informed Schools” become a reality.  It is the conversation that starts with children, parents, teachers, and mentors that will end the stigma and break the cycle of never ending pain caused by the silence and silencing of those who suffer from mental illness.

I strongly recommend that parents, teachers, and mentors everywhere take notice of what Oregon State’s and Lincoln County’s Newport High School is doing with mental health outreach by getting a copy of the April 2016, Harbor Light News Magazine, “It’s Okay to not be Okay…” Awareness and education of mental health circumstances and treatment must start early in the life of a child, at home and in school.  Don’t let your child take the emotional pain and baggage of depression, anxiety, and mental illness into adulthood.

I extend my heartfelt thanks and gratitude to the teachers and students of Newport High School and the Harbor Light News Magazine for stepping up! You are all heroes for the cause to end mental health illness stigma!

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…

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Steve Sparks, Author, Blogger, Child Advocate, and member, Lincoln County Oregon, Mental Health Advisory Committee (MHAC)

 

 

 

 

 

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…

Boomers Turn Age 70! We 46ers ain’t done yet!

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Kathleen Casey-Kirschling, First Boomer, “You only have the moment. You can’t live in the past, and you don’t know what the future is going to bring.”

Boomers Turn 70!  by Bill Newcott, AARP Your Life… Reference article and website, click highlighted text.

Excerpt from my book, Reconciliation: A Son’s Story, published in 2011…Signalman Publishing, Orlando, Florida

A New Beginning!

Using words like summary for the end of this story seems off the mark. I have a hopeful outlook in writing this book after doing research and connecting the dots. Life can begin again at any stage in life, especially for those of us who are entering the golden years. Writing this story has given me energy, renewed confidence, and a much brighter look into the future. Finding peace of mind has been a huge benefit, but requires continued effort. I believe more now that when one reaches out for answers to big questions and becomes fully engaged in living in a proactive way, we find more peace of mind. My thinking has changed from thoughts of death and dying or old age to planning my next writing project, next adventure, and sharing more romance with Judy. It is never time to sit down and forget about it all. It is extremely healthy for the mind and body to be engaged, to discover, to learn, and to love. Living, learning and loving never ends until the day we actually leave this life for good and go on to the next life, assuming the faith that this is where we are headed.

“Retirement” means transitioning to new beginnings rather than stepping away from all the action. There is really more action in retirement if you are willing to take the leap of faith, and jump in and continue to make a difference in your life and the life of others. The more of my time spent giving to others feels like a gift. Continuing to share my life with soul-mate and wife Judy is comforting and exciting. Finding new friends and building new relationships is invigorating. Getting the most out of participating in the lives of friends and family, including watching my children grow along with the grandkids, is most gratifying. I can say life is as good as it can be as long as my feet stay firmly on the ground. Writing this book clearly represents a new beginning. I am very thankful for having the motivation to tackle this project and the many rewards it has and will produce in the future. I am ready for the next surprise and challenge life has in store for us!

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I didn’t know in 2011 how writing my first non-fiction memoir, Reconciliation: A Son’s Story, would change my life.  It was at that moment in time that writing became a source of healing from childhood invisible wounds.   Kathleen Casey-Kirschling, First Boomer, “You only have the moment. You can’t live in the past, and you don’t know what the future is going to bring.”  These words really hit home for me at this time in my life as age 70 looms on July 6, 2016.  Wow!  This new decade for me was a scary beginning of the New Year until healthy change came into my life and our family.  When it is time for change, it is up to all of us to take action…we own it!  My major action was to clear away my agenda and all commitments that were no longer rewarding or fun.  It was my time and the opportunity to make a difference for myself and to focus on my family, especially my loving wife, Judy.  I set myself free to love more, explore and to innovate.  It is a new day in the Sparks home!  We are busy with new goals, planning, and excitement for the very special years ahead of us.  I feel blessed and thankful for good health and new energy at age 69.  “We 46ers ain’t done yet!”

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

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…

 

Kids Remind Us of The Christmas Spirit… Surround yourself with the joy and laughter of children…

 

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“Be a Kids Hero!” Click highlighted text for more…

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Click photo to expand view…

 

This time of year I reflect on the many blessings in my life… my family, my friends, and Heroes like you who are helping make the world a better place for children. Whether you celebrate Christmas, Hanukkah or simply the warmth of the season, I wish you and your family peace, love and much happiness. Thank you for making my 2014 so very memorable and I look forward to partnering with you in the coming year as we collaborate to continue raising awareness and work to protect even more children.

Warmest wishes,

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My friend and colleague Ginger Kadlec has helped me over the past several years to learn more about the lasting effects of children victimized by maltreatment and child abuse.  My heightened level of awareness has strengthened my own journey of healing from experiencing the trauma of child abuse while growing up as a military child during the 1950’s and early 1960’s.  I am now able to talk about and share my experience with others without shame or denial.  I have come to know and believe that those who suffer from past traumatic events, including child abuse, can heal from the invisible wounds and symptoms of depression, anxiety and guilt.  It is not what is wrong with a trauma victim, it is what happened to them! (click highlighted text).  Knowing this fact allows a person struggling with the painful emotional baggage of traumatic events, including maltreatment and child abuse, to move forward in life with peace of mind and much improved mental health.

It is in the spirit of Ginger’s holiday greeting and heartwarming work to protect children, our most precious resource, that I extend my thanks and best wishes during this season to my three daughters, and their families, other family members, friends, and followers.

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Steve Sparks, Author, Reconciliation: A Son’s Story and My Journey of Healing in Life After Trauma, Part 1…

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…