Childhood Trauma

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The purpose of this review is to further investigate how children affected by trauma can be successful in the classroom. When appropriate interventions are applied, children who have been expelled or suspended from school due to their aggressive behaviors can succeed in the classroom; however, educators should understand that trauma affects the brain in children who have experienced or witnessed violence.
Childhood trauma affects the social, emotional, behavioral, physical, and cognitive development in children. As a result, children have increased impulsivity, hypervigilance, anxiety, sleep problems or a myriad of other maladies. Behaviors carry over to the classroom creating a set of challenges for teachers, administrators and other
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The stress response systems are first to be compromised due to adverse experiences that assault the brain. Experiences of trauma and neglect create abnormal organization of important neural systems in the brainstem which compromises function and capacity of this region of the brain.
At each level, the brain responds to perceived threat which implies that a child raised in an abusive, chaotic and neglectful home creates an association of threats and neural cues. These cues have the capacity to activate a fear response which can alter emotions, behaviors and physiology. These associations and neural cues can profoundly interfere with a child’s functioning in everyday life. “Alterations in gray matter development represent a potential pathway through which childhood abuse is associated with psychopathology.” De Bellis, (2013). MRI scans of adolescents who have experienced physical and or sexual abuse show reduced cortical thickness and reduced gray matter volume in subcortical regions. Specific regions affected include the prefrontal cortex, parahippocampal gyrus, and the temporal
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The regressive shift means that the student is brain stem-driven or more commonly known as the ‘fight, flight or freeze’ mode. The student will act and think in primitive ways; therefore the higher functions of the brain will be inaccessible. In order to intervene with this behavior, the student must have positive opportunities to allow the brain to develop new patterns and associations. According to Dr. Bruce Perry (2007), neural systems in the brain change with repetition and accessing the affected area of the brain. Trauma related symptoms originate in the brainstem; therefore interventions must activate this part of the brain. Primary therapeutic and academic interventions are patterned, repetitive activities embedded in daily

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