“The single most important issue for traumatised people is to
find a sense of safety in their own bodies.”
Bessell van der Kolk
Chapter three focuses on understanding the development of the brain and the impact of trauma on its capacity to learn and adapt. This chapter is organised into the following sections:
How the brain develops
Effects of child maltreatment on brain development
Effects of disrupted brain development on academic and socioemotional functioning of children
The window of tolerance model of self-regulation
On successful completion of this chapter, you should be able to:
Understand the normal development of the brain and the role of its component parts in academic and socio-emotional functioning
Explain the impact of trauma on key areas of the brain
Utilise the ‘window of tolerance’ model to support traumatised students
In recent years, there has been a surge of research into early brain development. Neuroimaging technologies, such as magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), provide increased insight about how the brain develops and how early experiences affect that development. One area that has been receiving increasing research attention involves the effects of abuse and neglect on the developing brain, especially during infancy and early childhood. Much of this research is providing biological explanations for what practitioners have long been describing in psychological, emotional, and behavioural terms. There is now scientific evidence of altered brain functioning as a result of early abuse and neglect. This emerging body of knowledge has many implications for educators when teaching and supporting children who have experienced abuse and neglect.
This chapter provides basic information on typical brain development and the potential effects of abuse and neglect. The information is designed to help you understand the cognitive, emotional, relational and behavioural impact of early abuse and neglect in children. As we begin to explore this development, you will be introduced to a variety of new concepts and terms.