As the new school year gets underway, the Altgeld-Riverdale Early Learning Coalition will be taking a closer look at how traumatic experiences affect children, and what it means to become “trauma-informed.”
Exposure to just a single incident of trauma can result in anger or moodiness, interrupted sleep, and social withdrawal. Chronic exposure to trauma, especially in the early years, can adversely affect attention, reduce the ability to process information, and interfere with effective problem solving.
To gain more insight into how trauma affects children, their parents and caregivers, and even teachers and service providers, the Coalition will be hearing from a series of experts on trauma’s effects on the brain, the role adverse childhood experiences play in children’s development, and the tools available for coping and responding.
What does it mean for Altgeld-Riverdale to become a “trauma-informed” community? Well, for a teacher it could mean understanding that a trauma-exposed student may feel safer sitting in the back of the room, where he or she has a clear view of his or her surroundings, instead of being in the front of the room close to the teacher. For a caregiver it could mean learning to recognize environmental cues that are likely to cause a reaction. For the community’s organizations and institutions, it means understanding this framework and being sensitive to the deep impact that exposure to trauma has on youth.
If we can succeed in making Altgeld-Riverdale a trauma-informed community, it will be a significant step in providing a comprehensive community-based system of support to kids that the Coalition is striving to create.
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