Recently, I had the privilege of attending the ATTACh 2018 conference. I learned from keynote speakers including leading researcher and author of The Body Keeps The Score, Dr Bessel van der Kolk, M.D. and attended a variety of workshops and parent sessions.
Here are 5 things I learned and want to pass along to you:
- Keep a beach ball on hand. To have effective conversations with our kids we need to first connect. A great way to do this is to throw a beach ball back and forth while having a discussion. Getting into rhythm with your child will help them focus and make your conversation more productive. I love the idea of doing this with these emoji “feelings” balls.
- Talk with your child about their history. Not talking about your child’s history doesn’t keep them from thinking about it. All it means is they’ll be trying to figure it out on their own without your help. Have sensitive, age-appropriate conversations about your child’s birth story and trauma history. Help them process the information in bite-sized chunks with love as the special-sauce that makes it palatable.
- IEPs can focus on core content. Coloring maps, making index cards, and completing projects – all that busy work may be to much for a child with a history of complex trauma to manage. Work with your school to get your child a 504 or IEP. With an IEP you can request that your child’s work load be limited to only tasks and knowledge required for course mastery.
- Our LGBQT kids have too little to lose. In our society coming out can mean losing some of our family, friends, social groups, dreams, and more. An adopted foster child may have limited connections already. They may have only one friend or a single family connection. For them, coming out means risking it all. It’s important to be sensitive to how scary this can be for our kids with a history of abandonment or difficulties with attachment.
- Adoptive parents are the key. The single determinative factor in positive outcomes for traumatized children is having a positive, healthy attachment to a caregiver. This is why the adoptive parent is a crucial role in healing. While these children need professional treatment, a healthy relationship with an adoptive parent is powerful healing salve.
Also be sure to also check out my post on what I learned about Developmental Trauma Disorder at the conference.
ATTACh has made their conference affordable for parents and has a track of sessions designed specifically for us. In 2019 they’ll be in Scottsdale, Arizona. I strongly encourage you to consider attending ATTACh 2019.
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I live in Charlotte, NC with my family and am working on a memoir about raising my adopted son, Devon.