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COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL brain needs to experience life before it will rearrange neural cells into practical networks. Brain development is “use-dependent” (Geddes 2006, 106), which means that a person’s experiences help the brain determine which actual neurological connections will be made and which networks will be used again and again. Brain development patterns, then, can be affected by traumatic experiences. In preschoolers for whom a sense of security is not guaranteed, such as a child regularly witnessing domes- tic or neighborhood violence, more of these neural cells will become integrated into networks that deal with high-stress events. A child’s repeated experience of high-stress, traumatic events can begin to build a brain that is acutely sensitive to any potential threat, whether real or perceived (Perry 2004). And because the brain tends to “downshift” out of language- and logic-based areas into an emergency response mode, traumatic experiences and relived memories can cause children to feel totally helpless and powerless, which compounds their sense of shock. Only the thinking brain can devise safety plans or ask for help when seeking safety (Schore 2009). Struggling just to survive can limit children’s brain development exclusively to the “flight, fight, or freeze” instinct, greatly reducing their opportunities to solve problems (Cozo- lino 2006). Trauma and Children in the Classroom Children who live with traumatic stress often also have behaviors that disrupt their learning and their classmates’ learning (Brendtro, Mitch- ell, and McCall 2009). Children’s experiences of trauma may cause their negative behavior and learning issues, which contribute to teachers’ stress and burnout (Levine and Kline 2007). Generally negative behaviors stem- ming from trauma experiences can be very frustrating for teachers and school personnel. However, these behaviors may come from the brain’s overactive stress response and are not always under the “thinking” brain’s control (Perry 2004). Volcanic reactions stem from fear: fear of rejection, of being shamed, or of being inadequate. Traumatic stress in children is not a reflection of intellectual capacity, nor is it a mental illness. (How- ever, early traumas that do not receive interventions can lead to men- tal illness in adulthood [Rothschild 2000; Schore 2009].) Children may 20 Chapter Two COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL