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Worcester, MA: Don't ask 'what's wrong with the child?' BUT what happened to the child-at home!

Sept 19, 2017, Worcester (MA) Telegram: Expert’s presentation in Worcester explores effects of childhood trauma http://www.telegram.com/news/20170919/experts-presentation-in-worcester-explores-effects-of-childhood-trauma “We would’ve asked the question, ‘what’s wrong with them?’” said Dr. Forkey, chief of the Division of Child Protection at UMass Memorial Medical Center. “It turns out, we were asking the wrong question.” The right question, which she said has a lead to a “revolution” in pediatric care and education, is not what’s wrong with those kids, but what happened to them that made them that way. Many of them, researchers have discovered over the past two decades, suffered trauma that not only negatively affected their emotional well-being, but also worsened their mental health, their physical health – and even altered their DNA. Dr. Nadine Burke Harris, a national leader in the emergent study and response to that trauma – known as “adverse childhood experiences,” or ACEs for short – explored its wide-ranging impacts at a presentation at Worcester Technical High School on Tuesday night attended by hundreds of health care professionals and educators. The event was presented by the Health Foundation of Central Massachusetts, which together with the city school system has attempted to tackle the ACEs problem in Worcester over the past couple years with new intervention programming in the schools.... “These insights were like pieces in a puzzle,” she said, until a landmark study released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Kaiser Permanente in 1998 finally fit them all together. That study found that not only had two-thirds of the individuals included in the survey experienced at least one ACE, but that one in eight had endured four or more, which researchers linked to a range of negative health outcomes, from doubling those people’s chances of the most common forms of premature death, to increasing their likelihood of engaging in unsafe behaviors as adolescents.... For kids with large numbers of ACEs, even a teacher’s calming touch on the shoulder can seem like a potential threat, and on the flip side, the reward center of their brain has been changed to the point that pleasing activities or experiences for most people are not enough to make them feel good. Even their DNA is worn down, to the point that children with multiple ACEs are more prone to chronic diseases like diabetes and even cancer. The good news, she said, is that research has shown there are ways to counteract those effects; ample sleep, regular exercise, good nutrition, practicing mindfulness, addressing mental health, and engaging in healthy relationships have all been shown to help kids with ACEs regulate themselves, Dr. Burke Harris said. But getting that message out to health care professionals and teachers is not so simple. ...