News and information about education, research, and support for SESPs; adoptive, foster, and kinship caregivers; and child welfare and education professionals helping children with trauma and other special needs get the most from their education.
A New Chance for New Changes
By Mary-Beth Landy
Training and Support Specialist, RTSC
Happy New Year to you all! Now with the holidays passed us, many of us have already set some New Year Resolutions. But it’s easy to fall into the trap of setting these resolutions with the same strategies that we employed in 2018, and 2017, and 2016… No one likes to look around on February 1st and realize that they are already a distant memory. So let’s look at rethinking these ideas, just like we might with an IEP goal, making them achievable, effective, and productive! Read Full Article
Things to Consider…
How often do you hear that a student struggles with math? Math can be a challenging subject for a lot of students, but when is it more than a non-preferred activity. Although it has been limited in the exact numbers, approximately 5-7% of students have what is known as dyscalculia, a specific learning disability that affects a child’s ability to understand, learn, and perform math and number-based operations. Learn some basic tell-tale signs that your student might have undiagnosed dyscalculia.
Currently there are over 57,000 youth in congregate care facilities. Data has proven that youth have better outcomes when in a family based environment. The Family First Prevention Act of 2018 is asking for just that, better outcomes through prevention and working with the families to provide a strong re-unification plan to help families be successful. In order to do this, the act is requiring child welfare systems to re-evaluate policies and procedures for working with families prior to and during custody of the child.
If you’re a teacher who’s experienced adversity, you’re uniquely positioned to recognize and help struggling or traumatized students. But it can also be a challenging place to be. There are a thousand and one things in any classroom, on any given day that can set you off. “Even traumatized patients who are making real contributions in teaching… expend a lot more energy on the everyday tasks of living than do ordinary mortals,” writes Bessel van der Kolk in The Body Keeps the Score.
Van der Kolk explains that many people who have experienced trauma develop a “faulty alarm system” that’s easily triggered by minor events. Take a look at some steps to take to keep you regulated and available for all of your students.
The Juvenile Justice Reform Act of 2018 was just signed into law on December 21, 2018. The new legislation calls for an revision of the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act of 2002 for the purposes of supporting “a continuum of evidence-based or promising programs (including delinquency prevention, intervention, mental health, behavioral health and substance abuse treatment, family services, and services for children exposed to violence) that are trauma informed, reflect the science of adolescent development, and are designed to meet the needs of at risk youth and youth who come into contact with the justice system.” (H.R. 6964, sec. 101(4)). The original act of 2002 calls for the deinstitutionalization of Status Offenders, the removal of juvenile defendants from adult lock-up, ensures that accused and adjudicated delinquents, status offenders, and non-offending juveniles are not detained or confined in any institution where they may have contact with adult inmates, and reducing the disproportionate number of juvenile members of minority groups who come into contact with the juvenile justice system.
We’ve probably all heard a child say to an adult, “You just don’t get it!” In the same way that we don’t think kids “get it,” they don’t think we get it, either. I have even found myself telling my own children that there is “no summer break from the real world!” What I didn’t acknowledge at the time is that to them, school is their ‘real world’. Not only was I invalidating their experiences and struggles, but the reality is that school is more than learning facts, it’s about learning skills that they will continue to use throughout their lives. For example, working on a group science project is not just learning about the science, but it is developing team work, delegation of tasks based on individual strengths, and working as a cohesive team. Sound like skills that are needed in most project based organizations?
Parent-Child Interaction Therapy has been around since the 1970’s, although many parents and therapists in Massachusetts have not heard of it. It is an evidence based therapy in which the therapist observes the interaction between parent and child in real time. This allows the therapist to directly see the situations where problem behaviors may be present and provide parental coaching to help the parent interact with the child in a different way.
Useful Tools and Resources
How often are we frustrated by what appears to be a student’s lack of motivation? But what if motivation is controlled by the same brain systems that are damaged or delayed due to Developmental Childhood Trauma? “What is motivation? The brain systems that govern motivation are built over time, starting in the earliest years of development. These intricate neural circuits and structures are shaped by interactions between the experiences we have and the genes we are born with, which together influence both how our motivation systems develop and how they function later in life.” Center for Developing Child, Harvard Medical School. This easy to use interactive infographic helps illustrate just how those systems are developed and work together.
First off, what actually is Executive Functioning? Most educators would describe it as organization, prioritization, activation, personal and academic reflection, and emotional regulation and modulation. There has been debates among educators as to whether or not you can teach these skills. But as more research has been conducted, it has become evident that there are a set of skills that can be taught to overcome these challenges.
School districts around the country are embracing the idea that educators must understand underlying issues, such as a violent home life or a history of sexual abuse, that are driving bad behavior or poor academic performance among students. Take a look at this brief video about Adverse Childhood Experiences.
Whether you work in large office, a school, or an office of one, this video on stress in the workplace offers simple tips for dealing with the everyday stress that we all face. Although the video is over an hour long, setting aside that hour is a good start at some self-care to help with your stress