The problem with ACEs & "Trauma-Informed" Care

Discussion in 'General Education' started by EdEd, Feb 27, 2020.

  1. EdEd

    EdEd Aficionado

    Joined:
    Jan 12, 2011
    Messages:
    3,769
    Likes Received:
    233

    Feb 27, 2020

    First post in a while folks - sorry! I've been having a few conversations recently with different colleagues, and thought I'd post my thoughts here to see what the AtoZ community has to say.

    (First, here's a blog post from a fellow school psychologist that goes into a bit more detail, if anyone is interested. I get many of my thoughts from this.)

    A big take away for me is that it’s important for various data consumers (& pushers) to understand what different assessments are measuring, at what unit of analysis, etc. Some things work on one level (e.g., large-scale research studies), but not at organizational or individual levels. My primary issue is that people are now attempting to use it (ACEs) as an individualized psychosocial assessment tool for clinical practice, rather than seeing it as a tool to measure some elements of trauma from a research perspective.

    Even at it’s most appropriate level, though, there are big problems/limitations:
    • it doesn’t measure dimensionality of trauma experience (e.g., intensity, frequency, persistence)
    • collect any other related info (e.g., age of trauma)
    • attempt to measure the person’s past or present reaction & relationship to those events (e.g., present level of emotional functioning)
    • assess other sources of trauma (from community, peer, etc.)
    • assess other types of trauma (e.g., rape, bullying)
    In large part, that’s because this tool was created by Kaiser Permanente for a specific HMO use with a specific population in the mid-90s, and while it’s been researched since, a better, more comprehensive tool was never conceptualized or created to take its place once ACEs started being used beyond that limited, original use.

    Then……the issue is how it’s been used. Like a lot of educational fads, consultants & schools have now repackaged a variety of materials and jumped on the bandwagon of “trauma-informed” service-delivery, which by definition leaves out a wide swatch of causes that might contribute to students' psychosocial issues. These trauma-informed trainings, packages, & practices are often implemented as silo interventions and stock “cookbook” programs, rather than focusing on creating a system of response to students’ psychosocial needs more broadly. Many of these programs and approaches also have never been researched.

    One response to this critique is that while incorporating ACEs/trauma-informed practices might not be everything, it’s better than nothing, and at least addresses the trauma component. The problem is that it actually may do the opposite, especially when implemented in isolation: For example, when schools respond unilaterally to students’ emotional needs by assuming a common/singular source (e.g., all emotional outbursts are related to trauma) with pre-determined responses (e.g., these are the interventions you use for “trauma-related” behaviors), educators go down the wrong path, and then are likely to arrive at the wrong support structure for students.

    Maybe the biggest thing I’ve noticed in my career is that educators tend to take piecemeal approaches to education, rather than focusing on creating systems of support. They want to add on this reading program, then that math program, then this teacher accountability approach, then that trauma-informed program. It results in a series of disconnected packages that are incomplete, and therefor ineffective. Effective systems create processes to identify & respond to the specific needs of kids, teachers, & schools - they are the processes by which helpers arrive at identifying causes & solutions. By contrast, many of these pre-packaged programs skip the process, and jump straight to the conclusions, denying the individual circumstances & needs, which ironically is fully antithetical to the original purpose of “trauma-informed care” in the first place.

    In short, ACEs and resultant trauma-informed care has become another haphazard rebranding and prepackaging of actual best practices, which distracts people from focusing on a more comprehensive, effective approach - in my opinion. I’m not against the idea of measuring trauma, nor am I against the idea of training staff & implementing practices to support children’s needs related to trauma, but the specific way it’s come about (both from an assessment perspective (ACEs) and an intervention package (“trauma-informed” practices) has been problematic.

    What do you think?
     
    Tired Teacher likes this.
  2.  
  3. catnfiddle

    catnfiddle Moderator

    Joined:
    May 8, 2008
    Messages:
    8,514
    Likes Received:
    1,631

    Feb 27, 2020

    The ACEs test is outdated unless you are using the Philadelphia version, which takes community-level adversity into account. That being said, my school is specifically trained how to work with students for whom the "at-risk" has already happened. Honestly, I think it makes my classroom more approachable and my test scores higher.

    It informs the way I select curriculum, especially literary projects. I have been known to drop a copy of a book or poem in front of a student and keep walking until they want to delve further into it. My students are researching and writing about how the brain can rewire itself after physical or emotional damage, and we're talking about how we're all trying to open our previously fixed mindsets. Yes, a lot of this dovetails with previous ways I've handled my classroom. I've always been a fan of Love and Logic, but I think this takes that empathy and awareness to a new level.
     
  4. EdEd

    EdEd Aficionado

    Joined:
    Jan 12, 2011
    Messages:
    3,769
    Likes Received:
    233

    Feb 28, 2020

    Thanks for the link to this. Seems at least a bit better.

    And to clarify, I fully support being aware of how these traumatic incidents affect kids.
     
  5. Tired Teacher

    Tired Teacher Connoisseur

    Joined:
    Jul 31, 2019
    Messages:
    1,526
    Likes Received:
    751

    Feb 28, 2020

    This is how I see it being implemented here. You have been impacted by trauma. Instead of trying to change bizarre behaviors, you have a free pass. You will not have any consequences for your behavior.
    We have had kids ask, "Why does he get away with tearing up the room, spitting, hitting, cussing, or throwing things?" Some kids who see the kids get away with the behavior who are just sitting on the fence, leap over to the dark side.
    Why can't the kid have a consequence of : You will stay back from a preferred activity to help clean up the mess you made. You will work ___ minutes a day to help pay for what you destroyed.
    I have seen bizarre behaviors in kids since this program has been "implemented" too. I don't want to fully blame trauma informed practices because most schools want to look good by having low office referrals, low suspension rates, and many admin are afraid of getting sued.
    So they just make it so no consequences are given to those students.
    Also, we have had some weird families move to our area over the last few years. That could also be part of the cause for bizarre behaviors.
     
    futuremathsprof likes this.
  6. futuremathsprof

    futuremathsprof Phenom

    Joined:
    Jun 27, 2014
    Messages:
    4,398
    Likes Received:
    1,301

    Feb 28, 2020

    [​IMG]
     
    Tired Teacher likes this.
  7. catnfiddle

    catnfiddle Moderator

    Joined:
    May 8, 2008
    Messages:
    8,514
    Likes Received:
    1,631

    Feb 28, 2020

    I am a HUUUUUUUUGE fan of the podcast Terrible, Thanks for Asking. They did a three-episode deep dive into childhood trauma called "What Happened to You?" I strongly suggest anyone interested in the subject listen to this episode and the two follow-ups.
     
  8. EdEd

    EdEd Aficionado

    Joined:
    Jan 12, 2011
    Messages:
    3,769
    Likes Received:
    233

    Mar 1, 2020

    To me, this gets at the idea that sometimes good ideas are used or implemented in bad ways. I think this is the heart of what I was saying originally, and is particularly problematic because it seems so close to being the right thing to do. In fact, because it's couched in good intentions and morality, it's hard to argue against. But, sometimes these poor responses to good ideas lead us down the wrong solutions path, and we get further from where we started.

    That said, I do want to clarify - again - that I'm not against recognizing the impact of trauma on childhood, or assessing it. Nor am I for an approach that treats all kids the same.
     
    Tired Teacher likes this.
  9. EdEd

    EdEd Aficionado

    Joined:
    Jan 12, 2011
    Messages:
    3,769
    Likes Received:
    233

    Mar 1, 2020

    Thanks for this catnfiddle - will check it out
     
  10. Tired Teacher

    Tired Teacher Connoisseur

    Joined:
    Jul 31, 2019
    Messages:
    1,526
    Likes Received:
    751

    Mar 6, 2020

    Exactly. Look at almighty "testing." To me, it started out as a decent idea to make sure kids were learning. ( I started teaching before No Child Left Behind.)
    Look what's become of that in most states. Kids and their learning is no longer the goal for many schools now. Teachers have pressure dumped on them in most states about test scores. Admin all over the US have found ways to cheat.
    The way trauma informed practices is used here is not only problematic, it is immoral. We are raising up kids who will never be productive members of society. They have been told their trauma allows them to wreak havoc and traumatize others without consequence to them. They get bigger each year and their behavior gets worse.
    There needs to be some type of checks and balances when new practices come in to deter the improper implementation of these ideas people come up with.
     

Share This Page

Members Online Now

Total: 315 (members: 0, guests: 296, robots: 19)
test