EMPATHETIC UNDERSTANDING OF: ADVERSE CHILDHOOD EXPERIENCES

Image by Robina Weermeijer

summary:

Adverse Childhood experiences are not because of "bad" choices the children or family have made, but because of the circumstances in their environment that have prevented them from having a choice. TOGETHER, we can create communities that transform a families circumstances in a way that  provides the emotional and physical safety that will ENABLE children to thrive.

                                                                

The Social Determinants of Health:

Brains Journey to resilience:

BRAIN STORY

Lifelong health is determined by more than just our genes: experiences at sensitive periods of development change the brain in ways that increase or decrease risk for later physical and mental illness, including addiction. That finding is the premise of the Brain Story, which puts scientific concepts into a narrative that is salient to both expert and non-expert audiences. The Brain Story synthesizes decades of research and reflects a body of knowledge that experts agree is useful for policy-makers and citizens to understand.

FACT:

 

When stress responses are activated frequently, intensively, and persistently during early childhood, the systems involved can become permanently calibrated to activate more easily and may not turn off as readily as they should.

Connecting the Brain to the Rest of the Body: Early Childhood Development and Lifelong Health Are Deeply Intertwined

centre on the developing child

 

Harvard University: Centre on the Developing Child. 

Above graphic created in partnership with Children First Canada's Young Canadian's Parliment and Starlings Community 

Dust Storm

The key role of a caregiver is to help a child regulate their

stress response.

whats the catch?

an adult must be able to regulate their own stress response when under distress. 

If an adult has a history of adverse childhood experiences, they may have a hard time regulating their own emotions, creating additional stress in the child.

Dr. Linda Mayes

 

BABIES experience stress, too.

STILL FACE EXPERIMENT:

AT BIRTH, HUMAN BABIES CANNOT REGULATE THEIR OWN STRESS RESPONSE.

An adult's calm during a child's stress, helps the child to calm down, turns off their stress response. This happens over and over again and helps the child's brain to develop in healthy ways. If a child's needs are consistently unmet, this can cause a toxic stress response, that can derail healthy brain development.

And some parents need support in decreasing their stress in order to be an emotionally safe space for their children

Without the support of protective factors, adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) can be a form of toxic stress.

Brains_edited_edited.jpg

HOW DOES TOXIC STRESS (TRAUM) IMPACT THE DEVELOPING BRAIN?

 
 

ACEs

Understanding that all children NEED safe, nurturing, and healthy environments and supports to grow with resilience, means also understanding that not all children are able to receive this within their home.

ACEs remove the feeling of physical, emotional, or spiritual safety a child has, and in the absence of supportive environments and relationships, can impact more than "just" a childhood.

 

Here is how and why:

1998 aces study:

ACEs are extremely common:

  • 2/3 individuals has experiences 1 ACE

  • ACEs generally do not occur in isolation; if you have 1, you are 87% likely to have 2 or more.

16% of the population has an ACE score of 4 or more: research shows individuals with 4 or more ACEs are at increased risk of mental, physical, and social ailments into adulthood.

Intergenerational Trauma: Residential Schools

Intergenerational Trauma: Africville

How Childhood Trauma Can lead to Addiction: with Dr. Gabor Mate

IMPACT: 

  • behaviour, learning, and attention difficulties.

  • decreased ability to cope with day to day stressors

  • difficulty making and maintaining relationships

  • increased prevalence of physical and mental illness

A person with 4 or more ACEs is:

  • 12 times as likely to attempt suicide

  • 10 times as likely to use injection drugs

  • 7 times as likely to be an alcoholic

INCREASED RISK DOES NOT MEAN DESTINY

 

SUPPORTS

RISK

PROTECTIVE FACTORS:

Tropical Leaves

CHILDREN ARE NOT BORN RESILIENT, AND DO NOT GROW WITH RESILIENCE BECAUSE OF THE ADVERSITY THEY ENDURE. THEY GROW WITH RESILIENCE BECAUSE OF THE CARING PEOPLE, THE CULTURE, AND THE NURTURING ENVIRONMENT THAT SUPPORTS THEM DESPITE THEIR ADVERSITY.

The ACE Study: Building Self-Healing Communities

with Dr. Robert Anda:

“ADVERSE CHILDHOOD EXPERIENCES ARE PROGRESSIVE, OF COURSE THEY EFFECT CHILDREN, BUT THEY PILE UP IN ADOLESCENTS AND INTO ADULTHOOD.

 

OUR JOB IS TO STOP THE PROGRESSION AND CREATE

SELF HEALING COMMUNITIES."

Resilience Theory with Dr. Michael Ungar

"Ending Discrimination with Love, Glitter, and Action" with

Cindy Blackstone

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