The annual Creating Trauma Sensitive Schools Conference put on by the Attachment and Trauma Network was held online last week. This year there was a parent track for participants as well as a 90-minute parent panel hosted by Ginger Healey. While you can still access the workshops online, for those who want a few of the highlights from the parent panel, please see the quotes below. There are quotes from Healey as well as the four panelists.
Ginger Healey (Parent Panel Moderator)
“What we can do in one hour a week compared to what goes in the home 24/7 - that’s so powerful and such a healing.”
Adoption, Trauma & Developmental Delays
“The whole chronological age vs. development age, my gosh, I didn’t know that and didn’t get that.”
“Those days that you wonder if we’re going to make it through it - they sometimes outweigh the days you think we’re doing great.”
"We teach neuroplasticity and we believe neuroplasticity but you are testifying. Neuroplasticity is where the hope is."
"Rebecca asks the questions like. 'What comes up for you?' when we talk. I find that so powerful. Oh wait,let me think, let me really respond in a different way. I find it a powerful attunement tool.”
Survivor & Parent-Led
“Cissy always says, ‘It’s not trauma informed if it’s not informed by trauma survivors.”
Landon Kirk (Panelist)
“My heart is definitely with adoption and trauma.”
“I really just felt called to this my whole life.”
Responding to Resistance about Trauma-Informed Parenting
“I come from standpoint is has to be pointing the thumb rather than pointing the finger. I still think you have to begin with yourself. When you do, you start from a place of empathy. Empathy for ourselves and for everyone going through this."
“You can read books, go to classes & webinars but I believe you have to really experience it to really get it.”
“Have a heart of kindness, be patient, and realize it’s really difficult work.”
Digger Deeper than Discouragement
"The word discouragement is one of those words I pluck out. I like to say find me a discouraged parent and I’ll find you someone with expectation. Those are usually connected. You are disappointed because you have expectations…. Grief, I think it cannot be said enough, if you work through your grief, the new normal is acceptance. Acceptance allows you to be in the moment, and provide an environment of healing.
"Dealing with your discouragement is a parent issue - a you issue - not a kid issue. If I’m feeling discouraged, I need to do more work. I can be in the moment so my child is safe to heal.”
Self-Advocacy for Kids
"Self-advocacy or other developmental milestones can come later. ....What I experience is that it is usually delayed in kids with a lot of trauma. What I see in many neurotypical tools, it might be 20-30 year old for kids from trauma.”
“For me, it’s a developmental framework . So that means, what does this child need?”
“Do they have a concept of self? Do they even know who they are? Do they know their boundaries and limits before they can begin to advocate? A lot about co-regulation and regulation with the parent.”
Talking to Adults Children about their Early Trauma & ACEs
"So the person asking the question is already doing the right thing. She is wanting to connect and desires a relationship.”
"I find it’s better to lead with curiosity. Ask, "Hey, what was it like? How often do you think about x? Do you want to share it with me? Is it safe?"
Rebecca Lewis-Pankratz (Panelist)
“Well, I went to college to be a teacher and we were taught what’s called birthed to five brain science and that science tells us the architecture of the brain is built by five. So I’m in these classes, and I thought birth to five was pretty rough for me."
Healing is Possible
“The hope is our brains want to heal and can heal at any age. They need safe, supportive, relationships and environments, and structure and boundaries, and discipline, we need all of those things. And watching my own kids transform once our environment changed and I started doing the work on me.”
“Our brains do heal. Relationships are the conduit for that. There’s a ton of hope. And it’s going to be painful too.”
Reframing Traumatic Stress
“You don’t have brain damage. What I tell kids. We get over-wired here, and when we get into a different environment. Then you get a super brain. A lot of people don’t over-wire here when younger, but some of us get to. We have this capacity. I think there’s a ton of hope.”
“And I think one of the things I really struggle with today is slowing down and asking myself why do the stakes feel so high right now? What is it that makes me feel like I have to put this off on my kids and they need to get this done?”
“When I got out of poverty and stopped having money problems. And stopped working 75 hours a week. The stress in our home changed and the screaming at my children stopped. Some of it is environmental.”
I think about my interactions with doctors when we were a Medicaid family and my interactions with doctors now. ….There was a lot of time I felt really powerless and people were in control of situations and we were kind of guinea pigs.”
Parents & Teachers
"I was recognizing, as talking with more teachers and parents - Maybe my story and the struggles isn’t that uncommon. Maybe we just don’t have ways to talk about this, right?"
“What our teachers are facing is a paramount stress issue. So the kids are bringing in a lot of stress and teachers are taking it home.”
“What I have found to be really helpful is to go in and start asking teachers about their well-being, their stress response system, their triggers.”
“Get the conversation started, and be curious, right. There’s a real us and them between school and families and it’s not imagined…. It is real. And that’s some of what we have to heal as grown ups to get to this more connected, hopeful, science driven, relational work.”
The Science of Hope
“This work here isn’t a program, it's a way to live. It’s a way to show up. It’s a way to see one another. And it has a lot of grace for teachers who are not being good to kids and parents who are struggling with that as well.”
“We’re still early. We think everyone should know this stuff but we’re still early and we’re still pioneering.”
“The brain wants to heal and can heal at any age. We need safe, supportive relationships and communities. And resources. “We can’t just teach parents in toxic stress situations coping strategies. We have to think about how to change the environment. Stable housing, healthcare, and all that kind of stuff.
"I’m not broken. My brain did something amazing And my kid's brain has done something amazing. I am really grateful for the lifetime of trauma that I have accumulated."
"My story gives me automatic entrance into the lives of so many people and I have had profound healing and so many experiences from that pain."
"…. And because of the drug addiction and crime and stuff happened during pregnancy I have this humility and this shame that helps me sit with offenders and love them. How do we get upstream? We have to do work in all those places. Offenders are just kids with aces who grew up.”
Anna Paravano (Panelist)
Parent Empowering Other Parents Dealing with Trauma, Grief, & PTSD
“No parent should suffer this way with these questions (the way she had) because no one could diagnose my son.”
“I just made a commitment, if I get a chance to teach this stuff I’m going to.”
“This (large ATN community) did not exist.”
“You become something other than who you were when you started and it ends up taking other people with you.”
“I had a four and a half year old newborn, with a violent side.”
“It became important to me, not only to take my son to an attachment therapist, but that I had time with her, because I didn’t really know what to do.”
“It’s a long road. If you have had trauma in your past and this is triggering that and it blocks the ability to care or connect, that’s something to deal with. It is dealable. It is doable.”
“ATN for me became the greatest support I had in this - because it was peer support - and it allowed me to give of myself - and learn more…. I wouldn’t have survived without that.”
Transitions to Work, College & Risk-Taking
Regarding transitions, like going to college or taking college classes
"I come at this as a mom and as an educator. He’s in school, online, and starting with one class, and starting with one, he’s been able to take 2. We created transition. He needed to know the teacher. He needs to have an aid.” “With my son - it’s with slow baby steps. He’s experiencing mastery online…. Don’t want to set our kids up to fail.”
"Whatever the vulnerability is that you see that needs to be taught to. I would advise tailoring it to that - the simplest concept.”
“It begins with learning to ask. Ask in an appropriate way.”
“There’s a need. There’s a want, and maybe an inability to express it with language or whatever. To begin there. To teach it at home and then, when there’s some competency. Till then we need to advocate for our children.”
Parents Leading Parents & Other Experts
"We are the tip of the spear. We look to the doctors to lead us and they are not going to. They haven’t. We are the leaders in this.”
“One of the things I do if I see that it’s not going well - or something is happening, and the doctor isn’t picking up. I will say he has PTSD & early dev. Trauma. Have you heard of the ACEs study, done with Kaiser, and that’s the word. KAISER. It’s a Kaiser study - one of the largest ever done - blah blah blah - here’s a website”
Cissy White (Panelist)
Filling the Gaps
“Trauma and ACEs helped me understand why I was struggling, but it wasn’t until I learned about attachment, that I learned was healing, what was reparative, and what was helpful.”
“When I started learning about attachment and development, for me, that was the missing piece. That was the antidote to ACEs.”
Resistance to Trauma-Informed Parenting
“I think I would ask what’s the resistance. For some people, it’s just an overwhelming sense of grief. Like, “I don’t want it to be this hard. I want to parent like I was parented, etc.”
When meeting resistance - ask what are they really having a problem with? Sometimes it’s just sometimes about sadness and overwhelm. It’s not what they thought it would be.”
“Being concrete and specific. Sometimes it demystifies it for people. For ex., if you didn’t eat for 3 years - you have a different relationship to food.”
Healing is about Safety & Hope not Speed
"I didn’t feel safe til my 40’s. It was a LONG journey but I got there..."
“It can be so friggin slow but it is also really hopeful because - It is the kind of building that makes interest - it just gets better and better and better. "
"….However long it takes us to feel safe, and secure, and hopeful. I do think it is possible. I don’t think we have to decide for somebody it’s not possible. We don’t necessarily know what it’s going to look like. We don’t know how someone is going to get there… keeping hope and people around you that have that hope - is important."
“Self care- if you haven’t been a self that’s cared for - doesn’t make any sense.”
Helping Medical Professionals Understand Trauma
"I’ve brought ACEs studies with me and left it to many a doctor’s off. I definitely have brought stuff. I also look at outcomes."
"I tell my doctor, 'A trauma informed approach works better for me.' And I explain what that means. 'I really need you to explain everything you are going to do especially if you are going to touch me. I don’t want to be surprised. You might have to explain more than you usually do. And I will be completely on board but if you don’t explain it I will get scared and I will maybe not come back."
“For me, I’d focus on the most important things for me or for my kid and be someone willing to listen and be responsive. If then, if they are responsive I don’t care if they are trauma-informed or not, because they are willing to be adaptive.
I say, “I can just tell you what works, If you need to know why I have this need - I can tell you why or I can just tell you what works….if they are willing to do the things that make me or my kids feel safer (or not do the things that make us feel unsafe) that’s enough for me. I don't care if they call it being trauma-informed or not."
To find other quotes from this panel, and any others from this four-day conference, please visit the Attachment & Trauma Network to access the conference events, and/or search the #TSS2021ATN hashtag on Twitter.