OUR VOICES: TOUCHING TRAUMA AT ITS HEART

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Akin, Trauma, and Mindfulness in School

A Mindfulness room gone wrong About a month ago, I read Emma Donoghue’s novel, Akin, the story of an unlikely duo, both touched by childhood trauma: an 11-year-old boy named Michael and his great-uncle, Noah. Michael’s father–Noah’s nephew–died of an overdose, while his mother is imprisoned for a drug-related offense. Overnight, Noah finds himself the sole legal guardian of a defensive little boy whose flaws readers eagerly discuss with adjectives

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My Son’s Brain in School

A neuropsychologist said of my oldest son: “His brain is not organized the way the world wants it to be, so he has problems functioning. But he doesn’t have behavior problems. His brain doesn’t do those.” My youngest son also has a brain that doesn’t fit the world he lives in, but his brain does cause behavior problems. That makes him a “problem,” especially for schools. He doesn’t fit school.

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Child Trafficking: How Teachers Can Help

Child trafficking: from victim to advocate In 2019, I found myself in front of an auditorium full of school staff members from 70 Colorado school districts, speaking at a training on how to identify child trafficking. Several years earlier, my therapist had told me, “One day, you will be addressing the systems that failed you. You will teach them what to look for and how to report it. You have

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Boys in School

A word about gender Before I talk about boys in school, let me start by acknowledging that gender is complicated. We learn more every day about its many complexities and intricacies. We know, for example, that gender exists on a continuum. Even if we oversimplify and separate people into “boys” and “girls” and the qualities associated with each, we can all think of examples of “nurturing” boys and “aggressive” girls.

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Childhood Trauma Survivors: Living to Tell the Tale

Survivor stories matter Here at the ATN blog, we publish a lot of posts written by parents. This makes sense. After all, parents founded ATN, and supporting families constitutes one of our core missions. We also have a fair number of posts by therapists. Again this makes sense. Effective therapy is an integral part of healing childhood trauma. And we have a few posts here and there from the teacher’s

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Healing Trauma: Writing (or not) to Win

The Challenge Have you ever heard of NaNoWriMo? It stands for National Novel Writing Month. The idea is to write 1,667 words per day for the month of November. At the end, you will have a text roughly equivalent to the draft of an entire novel. Writers who reach 50,000 words “win.” I am one of those writers. I have been, anyway. Once. In 2019, I was not. This time

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What #OneCaringAdult Can Do

Every caring adult can make a difference in a child’s life At the Attachment and Trauma Network (ATN),we hear many stories about parents, teachers, therapists, and other individuals making a difference in children’s lives. It inspired us to choose the theme #OneCaringAdult for our #GivingTuesday campaign.  The premise for the #OneCaringAdult campaign comes out of the research on resilience. As part of the report from the National Scientific Council on

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Jeannie’s Brave Childhood – There is Hope

A story of hope Last week, I wrote about Janyne McConnaughey’s story. This week I want to focus on my own. I could probably write a book of my own on the many insights I gained, but for the purposes of this post, in which I want to give hope to parents and kids alike, I will focus on three: the importance of play lying the human capacity to change

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Jeannie’s Brave Childhood – The Author’s Story

Having read and thoroughly enjoyed ATN board member Janyne McConnaughey’s first book, Brave, A Personal Story of Healing Childhood Trauma, reviewed here in June 2018, I had looked forward to immersing myself in her second, Jeannie’s Brave Childhood: Behavior and Healing Through the Lens of Attachment and Trauma. It was worth the wait. As a voracious and omnivorous reader, I believe we read non-fiction for two main reasons: to immerse

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AAA Students – A Paradigm Shift + Love

Recap In last week’s post, I introduced the idea of the AAA student: Amygdala Always in Action. I referred to Dan Siegel and Bruce Perry, among others, for their work on the effects trauma can have on the brain. And I talked about the need for a massive paradigm shift, the kind that involves putting on our scuba gear and doing deep work alongside our AAA students. Loving our AAA

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AAA Students–A Paradigm Shift

Don’t you mean an A student? Nope. My child is not an A student. My child is an AAA student: Amygdala Always in Action. If you are a parent reading this, I bet you have an AAA child too. And if you happen to be a teacher, you almost certainly have AAA students in your classroom. This, as we will see below, requires a paradigm shift. Dan Siegel, Bruce Perry,

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ATN: Why and How to Get Connected

How much do you know about ATN? As a new member of the Attachment and Trauma Network Board of Directors, I have discovered some amazing things. I knew some of this from joining ATN two years ago and speaking at the first two Creating Trauma Sensitive Schools Conferences. However, joining the board has definitely reinforced it! To learn more about how I connected with this fantastic organization and the difference it

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Failing Forward

-by Meredith Poynter A Rough Ride I learned early that this journey to heal childhood trauma is a bit of a rollercoaster ride. How do we participate in that ride and yet remain resilient? I love my child with all my heart, but know if I don’t have the right mental tools, she can be an emotional vampire. Her mind has been, and sometimes still is, a chaotic storm. She

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Vacation, Back-to-School, and Gratitude

Gratitude. I feel it as I sit in front of a softly crackling fire, enjoying the fruity-rich notes of my first cup of coffee as I gaze out on a magnificent Puget Sound seascape. I look forward to another day of adventuring on our last get-away before the school year starts. There is a palpable ease all around. The stresses of every day are suspended and everything feels right. Not

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Trauma-Informed Educators: Julie’s Reading List

As teachers and students head back to school, a flurry of inquiries has come into ATN about the “best” materials to help our schools create more trauma-informed educators. The Trauma-Sensitive School movement is still young, so in previous years I had a hard time answering that question, as no one had yet written most of these books. Thankfully, we have them now! Below, you’ll find my top 5 favorites. More

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ATN Wants You . . . To Share Your Story

The Attachment & Trauma Network (ATN) seeks bloggers for the “Our Voices” section of our website, a.k.a. the ATN blog. Not sure if your story fits? Read on to learn more. Parents ATN was originally founded by parents, for other parents. We all have stories to tell, and we all need to know we’re not alone. Don’t know where to start? Try these ideas on for size: The worst day

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Complex “Yes/And” Solutions to End Mass Shootings

Just days after one of the bloodiest non-war weekends in US history, thousands have taken to their social media pulpits to preach about mass shootings. Some advocate gun control, mental health services, or an end to racism. Thousands more preach just the opposite, saying guns, mental illness, or racism could not possibly be the cause. Then, along came Jillian Peterson and James Densley’s L.A. Times op-ed piece, “We have studied

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Therapeutic Vacationing, Part II

Hello! It’s Dena again. In my last post, I shared how our Disney trip last summer was quite therapeutic for us as a family, especially when looking through the eyes of Theraplay®. In this follow-up post, I will look at Theraplay® dimensions of engagement, nurture, and challenge, and show how Disney brings them to life in a magical way. First stop: engagement Engagement has to do with connection, being “in

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Therapeutic Vacationing

Have extraordinary experiences For those of you who don’t know me, my name is Dena and I’m a parent of two children, now adults, through adoption. I originally started writing this whilst on vacation at Disney World in Florida last summer, but today I sit in my kitchen reflecting on our vacation and why it was such a memorable time. Some of you have been asking for guidance about what

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Being a CASA: Another Way to Help Kids

My kids are grown, and while my spouse and I have agreed to be done parenting, we still want to help kids, so I became a CASA. CASA stands for Court Appointed Special Advocate. In some places, they call this person GAL, Guardian Ad Litem. I, along with my husband, have been doing it for several months. In that time, 9 children have crossed our path–mostly sibling groups, from a

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Giving Ourselves a Break

Confession time–I have to take a break (gasp!) I cannot do it all. There. I’ve said it. I’ve admitted the impossible. Now that I’ve done that, let’s see what else I can say. I am not superwoman. Turns out I have flaws. Plus I get sick. In other words, I am vulnerable. I will have to take a break. Yet it is killing me to admit those things. Remind you

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7 Ways to Help a Child Deal with Traumatic Stress

Humans are wired for connection and thrive in conditions of safety and security. When safety and security are compromised, we must do everything we can to restore a child’s felt sense of safety and security as fast as possible.

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Shame: One Mom’s Thoughts

In the world of therapeutic parenting and developmental trauma, we hear a lot about shame. Professionals write lots of great articles about it. This is my perspective as a mom. When I first read about shame in our kids, I was pretty positive that my often narcissistic son could not have that issue. I looked at other kids with trauma and could see it in some, but not all. So

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When My Son Cries for His Birth Mom

My son’s behavior has been improving. It’s really quite incredible when I think about the progress he has made in such a short amount of time. There has been no hitting. No biting. No long-lasting rages. Very little swearing. Still. When my adopted child cries for his birth mom, my heart breaks. He’s constantly agitated, like someone wound him into a tight little ball, but I can tell he’s trying not

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Words of Wisdom for Mother’s Day

We have a lot of new members, and with Mother’s Day just around the corner, I thought I’d share some highlights from the collective wisdom of the ATN blogging team about what for many of us is a roller coaster day. To read each post in full, click on the author’s name. Complicated feelings Mother’s Day can be a minefield of disappointments, regrets, guilt, anger, and other painful feelings. Learning

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5 Enlightened Ways to Think About Mental Health

Mental health problems should be thought of no differently than physical health problems. In fact, they are related: mental health problems affect physical health and physical health problems affect mental health.

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