“As the ACE study has shown, child abuse and neglect is the single most preventable cause of mental illness, the single most common cause of drug and alcohol abuse, and a significant contributor to leading causes of death such as diabetes, heart disease, cancer, stroke, and suicide.”
Bessel Van Der Kolk, M.D.
The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind and Body in the Healing of Trauma
This past summer, I went on a learning journey about the effects of trauma. I have been on this journey for over 17 years, ever since my husband and I adopted a sibling group of four children from the foster care system. When we adopted our children, they were ages 2, 4, 5, and 7, so young to have so much happen in their short lives.
Their adoption started me on a journey of curiosity about the effects of childhood trauma. I read many books about attachment, trauma, and parenting children from hard places. Then, I went to a presentation on NEAR Science, and more came to light about understanding not what was wrong with our children, asking what had happened to our children.
NEAR Science is the combined research on Neurobiology, Epigenetics, Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE study), and Resilience. As a former high school science teacher, I was intrigued by all the research that was helping me to better understand what had happened to our children and the long-term effects of developmental trauma. As a parent, I was sad that our children had experienced so much in their short lives.
The ACE Study shows that the events that happen in childhood can have profound lifetime effects. When you just focus on the neurobiology, epigenetics, and ACEs study, the research leaves a person feeling helpless and hopeless. However, we are a resilient species. Resilience is the key to hope and strength. Resilience is the ability to withstand adversity and move through complex life events to adapt, change, and grow. Learning about resilience has given me hope.
- When someone behaves in a challenging way, instead of asking yourself, “What’s wrong with this person?” ask yourself, “What’s happened to this person?” Get curious and ask questions, then listen. It might give you some insight into the behavior and their resilience.
Take it a step further:
- Research more about NEAR Science and recognize how you and others in your life are resilient. Check out the resources below.
Adverse Childhood Experiences study: https://www.cdc.gov/violenceprevention/aces/index.html
Center for Developing Child, Harvard University: https://developingchild.harvard.edu/guide/a-guide-to-executive-function/