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The Neuropsychology of Stress and Trauma: How to Develop a "Trauma Informed" School

By Steven G. Feifer, D.Ed., ABSNP

This presentation will explore the neural underpinnings of stress and trauma in children and its impact upon learning. Environmental deprivation, poverty, childhood abuse, witnessing violence, and pandemics can impact both cognitive and social-emotional development in children. There will be a discussion on five steps that schools can take to become more “trauma-informed”. Targeted assessment strategies, specific classroom accommodations, and school-based interventions will be presented as students return to school from the recent pandemic. Schools can enhance emotional wellness through early prevention efforts, appropriate assessment and screening techniques, and an improved school climate to foster emotional growth for all children.

  1. Discuss the prevalence of trauma and stress for school aged children, as well as the various sources from which trauma can occur.
  2. Explore key brain regions that are impacted when students experience stress and trauma, and the subsequent effect on academic and social skills’ development.
  3. Review five essential steps toward the development of a “trauma informed” school.
  4. Discuss the impact of the pandemic on the social-emotional learning needs of children, and how to utilize the PASS-12 to screen for subsequent anxiety related concerns.
  5. Discuss four key assessment strategies in developing a “trauma informed” assessment and introduce the new FACT rating scale.
  6. Discuss specific classroom accommodations along with school-wide interventions, and key coping strategies to induce a more positive school climate for all students.


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