By Anne Dachel
A study from the Washington School of Medicine in St. Louis has solved the mystery surrounding the decline in the health of America’s children and the explosion in behavioral/developmental disorders overwhelming our schools.
A report released on Oct 30, 2017 entitled, Early childhood adversities linked to health problems in tweens, teens gave us the details of the study which has already been talked about in the media over the last several months.
Here the opening:
“Study is first to point to brain changes that underlie poor health in some children.”
What that actually means is “adverse childhood events” (ACEs) cause brain damage in early childhood and this can result in all kinds of problems like “severe depression by their preteen and early teen years and …physical health problems, such as asthma and gastrointestinal disorders.”
ACEs are the things that happen to kids in their home environment and they ‘can have serious health consequences evident as early as the teen and preteen years,’ according to senior investigator and Washington University child psychiatrist Joan L. Luby, MD.
We’re seeing more children with behavioral problems in schools and this could tell us why. Dr. Luby went on to say, ‘People exposed to adversity early in life experience changes in the volume of the inferior frontal gyrus that probably can make children more vulnerable to behavioral issues and bad decision-making. We suspect that such changes are associated with issues such as poor diet, risky and more dangerous behavior and generally not taking very good care of yourself, and overall, this contributes to poorer mental and physical health outcomes.’
We’ve seen huge increases in physical health problems in children that can’t be dismissed with the claim of “better diagnosing,” like they’ve done with autism, and what this study does is lay the blame for asthma, GI disease and more on childhood trauma. It’s a deceptively clever way to further marginalize anyone who says that the toxins our children are exposed to everywhere have any ill effects on them, and it puts parents on the defensive.
IF parents are poor or divorced, IF there’s been a death in the family, IF anyone has had mental health problems or addiction—any of these things could cause mental or physical illness in children.
Forget the toxic foods we feed children daily or the multiple toxics we routinely inject into their little bodies and developing brains. INSTEAD, IT’S “TOXIC STRESS” FROM HOME THAT’S HURTING THEM. (“Toxic stress” is another new term often used with “adverse childhood event,” so get used to them.)
Luby explained how the tables have been turned on us: ‘We know toxins in the environment can contribute to disease, but this study suggests that kids can experience physical and mental health problems from exposure to psychosocial toxins, too.’
Luby is going to continue to study these children AND to begin “a multidisciplinary study to follow pregnant women and their infants to see whether psychosocial stressors and adversity experienced during pregnancy and the first three years of a child’s life also affect brain development and overall health.”
We were told that these findings could "alter the way doctors and researchers think about the development of disease."
I’m sure they will. They can just blame parents for whatever is wrong with their children. I’ve already been convinced because of the massive amount of news stories about how childhood trauma, stress, anxiety, and depression are affecting schools around the world.
We’ll be spending piles of money on more studies, programs, teacher workshops and services that focus on undoing the bad things parents are doing to their kids. All this is well coordinated with experts and sources around the world all saying the same thing. And no one will be allowed to argue that stress has always been around, and so has poverty. Everyone will jump on board with this neat, simple explanation for all our ills. I can’t wait to read about ACEs triggering autism.
We just need more counseling and sensory/calming rooms in schools, a later start to the school day, and elimination of homework—all the things that will reduce the stress levels in vulnerable, traumatized children.
It’s happening already:
Oct 30, 2017, Hartford Courant: West Hartford, Simsbury Looking At Changing School Start Times
Oct 30, 2017, UK Telegraph & Argus: Young people have shorter waiting times in Bradford for mental health support
Oct 30, 2017, WHYY Philadelphia: Burlington City, N.J., schools to push back start times by 20 minutes
Oct 30, 2017, Cincinnati Radio WVXU/WMUB: How To Address Childhood Trauma
Oct 29, 2017, Plattsburgh (NY) Press Republican: Student mental health issues now a growing concern for school leaders
Oct 29. 2017, Williamson (WV) Daily News: Educators look into adverse childhood experiences
Oct 29, 2017, Beckley (WV) Register-Herald: Handle with Care: A trauma-informed approach to help students succeed
Oct 29, 2017, Concord (NH) Monitor: N.H. educators are getting a crash course in trauma
Oct 29, 2017, New Zealand Herald: More mental health issues being seen at an earlier age, counselor says.
Oct 28, 2017, Slippery Rock University, Slippery Rock, PA, The Rocket: Mental health initiatives should match student needs
Oct 28, 2017, UK Guardian: Campus Confidential: The counselors on the frontline of the student mental health crisis
Oct 27, 2017, UK) Sunderland Echo: New sensory room to meet increasing mental health needs in school
Oct 27, 2017, British Psychological Society: The rise of ADHD: An educational psychology perspective
Oct 27, 2017, Independent Irish News (Dublin): Increase in students with a disability in third-level - but no change in funding
Oct 27, 2017, CBS New York: Patchogue Schools Experiment With Expanded Recess, Less Homework
Oct 27, 2017, (Canada) CBC: P.E.I. to hire private psychologists to assess students as wait list swells
Oct 26, 2017, UK Independent: Children and young people with mental health problems waiting up to 18 months before they get help, finds report
Oct 27, 2017, Ottumwa (IA) Courier: New program gives disruptive students more structure
Oct 26, 2017, UK Family Law: Government builds on commitment to bring mental health first aid to schools
Oct 26, 2017, (Hawthorne, NV) Mineral County Independent-News: Local Counselor Attends Summer Conference on Identifying Mental Health Concerns
Oct 25, 2017, Naples (FL) Daily News: Study: Florida economy would gain $9 billion with later middle and high school start times
Oct 25, 2017, (UK) TES: 'Our schools are drowning under a tidal wave of human misery'
Oct 23, 2017, (MI) ModelDMedia.com: Why all Metro Detroit adults should learn to recognize the symptoms of childhood trauma
Oct 23, 2017, Ontario, Catholic Register: King's University College puts focus on mental health
Oct 23, 2017, (UK) Huffington: Compulsory Mental Health Education Is Essential In Schools
Oct 22, 2017, Lockport (NY) Union-Sun & Journal: Student mental health issues a growing concern
Oct 21, 2017, La Salle (IL) News Tribune: Survey: childhood trauma is widespread
Oct 20, 2017, Ashland (NE) Gazette: Special needs student population still rising
Oct 20, 2017, Newsweek: Children’s Mental Health: Nearly Half of U.S. Kids Have Experienced Trauma
Oct 20, 2017, WDBJ Roanoke, VA: Montgomery County Schools staff become more mental health aware
Oct 19, 2017, Washington Post: Almost half of D.C. children have suffered a traumatic experience, according to federal survey
Oct 18, 2017, Centerville (IA) Daily Iowegian: How does childhood trauma impact our community?
Oct 18, 2017, UK Rugby Advertiser: 'Worrying increase' in children across Warwickshire seeking help for mental health issues
Oct 18, 2017, (St. Louis) Lincoln County Journal: LCRB approves $1.3 million for childrens mental health services
Oct 18, 2017, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: West Allis-West Milwaukee focusing on students' mental health needs this school year
Oct 18, 2017, Australia, Bendigo Advertiser: New training to help teachers support trauma-affected students
Oct 17, 2017, Lexington (NE) Clipper-Herald: Therapeutic space: school sensory rooms
This is just what’s come out there in the last couple of weeks.. All these stories tell us about trauma and mental health in children, and what schools are doing to address the problem. I have more months of stories just these, numbering in the thousands.
Soon we’ll all be believers.
For more stories, see my October 18th piece.
Anne Dachel is Media Editor for Age of Autism.