Sunday, March 15, 2009

Dr. Bruce Perry - our society

On Weds I went to a workshop taught by Dr. Bruce Perry. He has earned both M.D. and PhD degrees and is the Senior Fellow of the Child Trauma Academy in Houston, TX. The Workshop was on the affects of early violence and trauma on the development of the brain. He talked about some deep stuff some of which I am still trying to grasp. Today I just wanted to talk about how our society has failed in this area of child development. Generations ago people lived in multi generational families. The adult/child ratio was generally a couple of adults for every child. Now we look at the large day cares (non family run) in which the ratio is several children per adult. Look at the orphanages many of your children were in. How many adults per child? Even many of the foster homes with infants still have poor ratios. Babies and toddlers learn attachment, communication, self regulation through the one on one time spent with the adults with whom they live. When there are that many children per adult it cannot promote any of those areas of development. There is great power in relationships. In early childhood the brain is malleable. This is prime time for those relationships to shape it.

We have also compartmentalized ourselves in our society. In early years the community gathered to raise a barn, make a quilt, dance and celebrate. Now we all go to our own rooms at night, live in our own houses in a neighborhood and yet not knowing our neighbors. The material wealth has risen but we have great poverty of social and emotional opportunity for our children.

Television and video games have become our baby sitters. There are even videos for babies now. While they may be good quality videos they do not provide on on one contact with loving arms, eye contact and the opportunity to learn language by watching mom's facial expressions, hearing her heart beat and seeing how she reacts.

We saw a couple of visuals that were startling. One was the difference between a normal child's brain at 3 and one of a child who had suffered severe neglect. He showed us a variety of slides that showed holes, and missing connections in the neglected child's brain. We also watched a video clip of a synaptic connection as it takes place. These are were words, ideas and thinking are formed. Our children have synaptic connections that have formed incorrectly or never formed at all.

Our society is failing its children. I think we are as well aware of this as anyone. It has affected our children's brains in significant ways. I will write more about this next time!


Rachelle said...

Wow, such interesting stuff. I saw some of this same information with photos on Oprah a couple weeks ago on severely neglected children. Facinating to learn how the brain develops. It makes so much sense to see how it fits with an adopted, orphaned child.

Christine said...

That first visual you have up there is one that Nancy Thomas shows at her conference. The DVD of that conference was one of the first big resources we used in prepping ourselves for therapeutic parenting.

That picture has never, ever left my mind. I have to stop and remember how deeply my kids' minds have been affected. Everything I do with them has the potential to help them fill in some of the gaps and exercise the weak areas.

I think those visuals are very important for every mom to see who is parenting a traumatized child.

evil social worker said...

I attended a presentation he put on last year or so, and while aware of most of the stuff he talked about, I was most interested in the treatment aspect of his presentation. It gave me some hope. I hope you got some of that feeling too. (I actually just posted a bit about Dr. Perry tonight so I thought it was interesting when I saw this topic off of another blog.)

Anonymous said...

Yes i agree with you. I also think that parents these days tend to ignore their child's development as they are to preoccupied with their daily routines.

matryoshka said...

wow...I have read about the difference in brain development in a couple of books but haven't seen the visual...a picture is definitely worth a thousand words here.

curlyjo said...

They say a picture is worth a thousand words. I say, "At least!" I get it, this RAD stuff, at least I sort of get it. But the picture does bring it home.