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COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL express their traumatic stress in a variety of ways, but the following are some frequent behaviors. Learning Issues Traumatic stress can be the cause of many learning issues. When stu- dents have “downshifted” into an emergency response mode, they may be unable to focus and concentrate as they struggle with intruding worries regarding emotional security. Because they are unable to problem solve and rationalize while their brain is responding to perceived threats, they have serious difficulty deriving meaning and making sense out of what is being taught (Levine and Kline 2007). The automatic stress response also has a profound effect on students’ ability to retrieve what was suc- cessfully learned, even when not under stress. This can greatly affect test performance—students are not truly able to demonstrate what they have learned or what the teacher has taught. Students who are unable to apply themselves in school or to other learning activities very often have anxiety and a stress barrier to their “thinking” brain as a result of trauma (Szalavitz and Perry 2010). Teach- ers cannot teach children operating in their emergency response mode, and these students cannot participate in the learning process. This is not an excuse for children’s behavior or poor achievement, but it offers educators insight and possible explanations for behavior. Teach- ers who have been informed of the neuroscience of learning and behav- ioral issues are better able to resist the interpretation of misbehavior as defiant or deficient, allowing them to avoid taking the situations person- ally (Brendtro, Mitchell, and McCall 2009). The good news is that trau- matized students may be hypervigilant to threat, but they are not always operating out of a paralyzed emergency response. They may have good moments, and great teachers can learn to channel those good moments into a great learning experience. Understanding Cause and Effect Children who live with certain kinds of traumatic stress also have great difficulty understanding cause and effect. Depending on the levels of chaos and discipline in their environment, they may be unable to deter- mine a logical or direct correlation between their behavior and the disci- plinary action taken by family members or staff. Unfortunately, sometimes COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL Early Traumatic Stress 21