EMPATHETIC UNDERSTANDING OF: ADVERSE CHILDHOOD EXPERIENCES
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:
Determinants of health are the broad range of personal, social, economic and environmental factors that determine individual and population health. The main determinants of health include:
Income and social status
Employment and working conditions
Education and literacy
Social supports and coping skills
Access to health services
Biology and genetic endowment
Race / Racism
Social determinants of health refer to a specific group of social and economic factors within the broader determinants of health. These relate to an individual's place in society, such as income, education or employment. Experiences of discrimination, racism and historical trauma are important social determinants of health for certain groups such as Indigenous Peoples, LGBTQ and Black Canadians.
*reference: Government of Canada
Brains Journey to resilience:
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.
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
The key role of a caregiver is to help a child regulate their
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.
HOW DOES TOXIC STRESS (TRAUM) IMPACT THE DEVELOPING BRAIN?
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
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
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."