Tag Archives: Early Child 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…

Steve2016

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

 

 

 

 

 

Post-Traumatic Stress (PTS)…I Worry Most About Kids from Birth to Age 6…

Dakotah

Dakotah, Age 4…a foster child who experienced early child trauma…

Post-Traumatic Stress in Children Age 6 and Under… quote from Anxiety and Depression Association of America… Click highlighted link for more on this topic…

Two or more of the following symptoms can emerge in young children who experience traumatic and toxic circumstances.

  • irritable, angry, or aggressive behavior, including extreme temper tantrums
  • hypervigilance
  • exaggerated startle response
  • problems with concentration
  • difficulty falling or staying asleep or restless sleep

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I’m asked often why I worry about babies and younger children the most when thinking, talking and writing about post-traumatic stress (PTS) and the toxic circumstances that often go with a family who suffers from PTS.  These are typically families with parents who served in hard combat as warriors and come home with the nagging symptoms of anxiety, depression, and anger that affects the entire family, especially kids.  I have taken the opportunity in this blog post to help answer this most important question with the goal to educate parents, teachers, mentors, and loved ones to be particularly sensitive to young children age 6 and under.  These are the little ones impacted the most.  This is the time of a child’s life when parents, teachers and loved ones who care for children can make a big difference in mitigating the potential long term emotional damage caused by PTS.

I started an exercise on a blank piece of paper keeping in mind the question, “why I worry about kids in toxic circumstances.”  I took a break after writing down about 35 “trigger” words that came to me from my own life experience.  These are words that needed to be transformed from fear to constructive healing over the years…redefining myself in a more positive context.  Then, I found the above link connected to trauma affected children age 6 and under.  These are the little ones I worry about the most…they are completely at the mercy of the grown ups in a toxic world that is often not even remembered…I have significant memory loss from my childhood, but the feelings of fear of this time remain with me. I do have vague but painful memories of kindergarten and 1st grade.  My memory then fades until around age 10.  Most all the “trigger” words can be organized and connected to the narrative in this link.  The bottom line in my journey of healing that pushes me forward with joy each day is forgiveness of self and others.

I worry the most about the babies, toddlers, preschoolers and K-1 kids who are damaged emotionally and must then face the real world for the first time with limited socialization. They are scared, very scared of themselves, others, and everything else they encounter.  Kids like this (me during my early childhood) are on alert for danger and behave defensively.  They are isolated, emotional, and often act out.  The ability to focus and concentrate is difficult at best.  There is little or no trust in adults.  While other typical  kids are laughing and playing and learning, trauma affected kids shy away and hide,  minds wondering without self regulation or a positive structure… These kids most often feel detached and out of place with peers.

The “trigger” words caused me to drift back in time and remember how it felt as a kid…So I now worry about children in this way, especially if it is clear they are troubled little souls.  I ask not what is wrong with these children, I ask what happened to them?  There is much sadness in my heart when thinking of children who must endure and survive a toxic home culture.

My goal as a trauma survivor who has done significant research and writing on the topic of PTS, is to produce a trauma informed work book to serve as a lay persons reference guide for parents, teachers, and mentors.  The process of developing a work book is at the beginning stage.   I anticipate a hardcopy publication to be completed by the end of 1st quarter 2016.  We adults must become trauma informed to be better equipped to help young children who have suffered from traumatic experiences.  Our children represent the best hope for the future.  It is during the younger years of a child when we have the best chance to mitigate the longer term emotional damage caused by exposure to traumatic circumstances.

Steve Sparks, Author, Reconciliation: A Son’s Story & 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