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Thursday, March 19, 2015

Highlights On Stress and Trauma

I have brain overload from all the information I have been getting from the you tube series I am watching and my Traumatic Stress book. I would love to be able to write it all out so that it makes sense and then share it with you all but the information is so intertwined it would take pages of writing and descriptions. So I will just share a few highlights of what I am learning. The material is all stuff I have heard or read about previously so it is familiar. I can process information so much better after I have heard it a time or two.

CEREBELLUM: The cerebellum contains as many neurons as the rest of the brain combined. Autism, Aspergers and Sensory Integration are caused by problems in the cerebellum...it's wiring, how the neuron's are developed and the size of the neuron's among other things.

LIMBIC SYSTEM: is in the center of the brain - and the site of all primitive arousal. Love, hate, fear, rage, lust, hunger all reside here. We share this primitive part of the brain with anything that can find it's own mate, and chase down it's food. The speaker refer's to the Limbic System as Lizard Brain.

Every child who comes through our (foster parents) door has potential for having a glitch in the Limbic System due to childhood stress and trauma. When small children are under extreme stress, (under age 1, under age 2 and under age 5 each having their own thumbprint) we are going to see permanent change in the Limbic System.

FRONTAL LOBE - This is where your thinking comes from. It is also the site of judgment, insight and impulse control.

The frontal lobe's and Limbic system are to be in communication at all times. 

CORPUS CALLOSUM is what allows the two sides of the brain to communicate. Without it the left side wouldn't know what the right side is doing and vice versa.. When a child is exposed to alcohol the Corpus Callosum frequently either fails to develop correctly or doesn't develop at all. These children cannot integrate the two sides of their brain.

The ability to feel emotions and correctly name the emotion requires you to integrate the two sides of your brain. 

We have 1 billion neurons in our brain. Each of our 1 billion neurons has 10,000 connections. Here is a link that has more information. I found it very interesting.

HIPPA CAMPUS is associated with immediate memory. Everything you learn goes in through your hippa campus and get's stored in your temporal lobes where long term memory lives. Short term memory remains in the Hippa Campus as does trauma memory and things that go into the brain without words. When a young child experiences trauma pre verbally what gets stored is the taste, sense, smell, feeling, sound etc. You cannot pull this memory up with words but you can with senses. Traumatized children may have up to a 1/3 smaller Hippa Campus which will permanently impair the child's  learning and ability to memorize. They will still be able to do these things but it will be more difficult for them.


The more I learn about stress and trauma the more I wish I would have had this information when we began fostering. However, it probably wouldn't have made as much sense then as it does now because now I have seen and experienced this stuff personally and in my children's lives.

For instance; a traumatized child views the world as a bad, scary place. I knew that but the following description I found in the book made it much more concrete for me.

   James is standing in line and the boy behind him accidentally pushes him. James is a healthy, well attached child so he tells the other boy to stop it, be careful etc.

If James is a traumatized child he will assume that he was pushed on purpose and will lash out at the boy who pushed him or knock the other guy over, at which time the teacher intervene's and James is reprimanded.

Same situation, different core beliefs due to circumstances beyond the child's control.

                Image result for amazing brain quotes

Traumatized children are often delayed, physically and emotionally because they are so busy keeping themselves safe, they don't have time for anything else.

This was made personal when I spoke with the secretary from CHOP. She said even though Joseph was in our home from 6 months on, he was still in a trauma setting because of Braden's disabilities. That was very sobering for me, it made me feel like I failed yet again to give my children what they needed. We tried but waiting months to get an appointment only to find that the therapist didn't know as much about attachment disorder as you were lead to believe was incredibly frustrating.

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