November’s guest blog is written by Debbie Baird, Intervention Coordinator at Chaddock Special Education School. Debbie has worked at Chaddock for over 31 years and is loved by staff and students alike. Debbie puts family first and has 9 grandchildren whom she loves to spend as much time with as possible. Debbie also loves to spend time with and take walks with her husband.

I have worked at Chaddock for over 31 years and it has made a strong impact on my life and the way I am with my own children and grandchildren. I have learned that trauma is in the eyes of the person who has experienced it and not in how it is viewed by others. This is important to remember as we work with children and families whose lives are impacted by trauma and disrupted relationships.

The way trauma is perceived and interpreted is affected by many different factors such as attachment style, previous trauma experiences, relational support at the time of the trauma, type and frequency of trauma, individual temperament, coping mechanisms, age of person, plus many more. This means that we cannot expect one child to behave the same way as another if they have experienced trauma.

What we do know is that for a lot of our kids, their trauma occurred in the context of a relationship and this means that they have trouble trusting those people (us) who are now trying to care for them. They can very quickly see and feel if we are being fake or judgmental. When we behave in this way, we are often perpetuating the cycle of mistrust within the relationship. By being able to open our hearts and look through the child’s eyes we can help them heal. Chaddock has allowed me to grow and show genuine love and caring for our children and I have been able to see tremendous growth in not only them but myself.

Always remember relationships are primary and keep it real, because our kids need the real you.

Editorial Note:
It can be hard to “keep it real”, especially if we don’t have a deep understanding of developmental trauma and the complex ways in which it can impact a growing child. Often, we react based on the behaviors right in front of us, and sometimes that causes feelings of judgment – we are human after all! As our knowledge of trauma grows, we begin to understand that troublesome behaviors are often survival skills in disguise and recognize the need for genuine encounters that require us to be fully present. In order to do this, we must be vulnerable – a task that can be challenging for many adults. At Chaddock, part of our journey of growth involves asking the question “why is this hard for me?” When we can answer this, we are better able to be real with our children and families.

It’s important to remember that just because we provide space for understanding it doesn’t mean that we lower the expectations we have or change the rules, it just means that the way we go about supporting a child learning the expectations and rules might change a little.