Some excellent papers (free) and books on kids and attachment issues – for moms, dads or adoptive parent to read

A great friend of ours, Gabe, passed along this link to a page which lists number of books that can be purchased, as well as a number of papers/articles on the correlation between a child’s behavior and neglect, abuse and trauma, written by Dave Ziegler, Director, and Organization Founder of Jasper Mountain Center of Jasper, Oregon, a non-profit organization dedicated to meet the needs of traumatized and emotionally disturbed children and their families, through a variety of programs. http://www.jaspermountain.org/publications_resources.html (Read more about the organization in their ‘About us‘ section.

Understanding and Helping
Children Who Have Been Traumatized By Dave Ziegler 

Here’s an excerpt from this article (http://www.jaspermountain.org/understanding_helping_children.pdf):

The human brain is the most complex organism in the known universe. It is comprised of 1,000 billion individual brain cells (neurons) that develop 1,000 trillion connections with each other. An infant at birth has a brain that is only 25% developed, which enables the child to adapt to a wide range of environments. The brain of a child who is cared for by a loving family will adapt very differently than a child who has a drug addicted mother in a home where domestic violence is common. We have learned from new research that positive and negative experiences not only are stored in the memory areas of the brain, but experiences also sculpt the developing brain and determine how it will process all new information. This process goes on at every age even before birth, and just because a child does not have conscious memory of an event (explicit memory), does not mean the brain does not remember (implicit memory). “So what?” Well, this helps us see that the earliest experiences of a child will not only be carved in the brain’s memory but the brain itself will develop differently because of the environment. The brain develops in predictable ways to experiences. (Photo above via kidcompanions.com)

Dr. Ziegler on what happens to the brain of a child who is raised in a loving environment:

The brain adapts throughout life, but the strongest adaptation is within the first two years of life.  

The loving supportive environment produces larger more well developed brain structures that will help the child be smarter, be more inquisitive, and feel safer allowing the brain to put less energy into self protection.

Dr. Ziegler on what happens to the brain of a child who encounters trauma or abuse in early childhood (He defines trauma as: accidents, painful medical procedures, or life changing emotional events; but by far the most common traumatic experience is some form of abuse such as physical or sexual abuse or serious neglect.):

If the child comes into a world with trauma of any kind, the higher regions of the brain grow smaller affecting the child’s ability to learn and fully understand the world other than how to survive by being ever vigilant of possible harm. 

And Dr. Ziegler asserts that there is hope, even with abused or neglected children:

The brain is made up of networks of neurons (brain cells) that communicate with each other. If mommy is a caring, loving, nurturing experience for the infant, a strong neuro-network develops that says ‘mommy is good.’ If mommy is self-absorbed, unresponsive to the child’s needs when they cry and physically abusive to the child, an even stronger neuro-network develops that says ‘mommy is to be avoided’ to support survival. So what? To an abused child, mommy can be any adult in the role of care provider, which may include foster parent, adoptive parent, teacher, grandparent, etc. The reason attachment is a common problem with many abused children and children in a foster or adoptive home should be clear. The goal must be to develop new neuro- networks that have to do with safety, predictability, caring, and the child’s physical and emotional needs getting met. Remember the brain literally changes with every experience. It will continue to adapt in your positive, nurturing home regardless of how serious past abuse has been. Yes, Virginia, there is hope! 

Some other articles of interest:

See all of the resources available here –  http://www.jaspermountain.org/publications_resources.html

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