Online Program

Assessing toxic stress and learning readiness in kindergarteners

Monday, November 4, 2013 : 4:50 p.m. - 5:10 p.m.

Renee Pitre, MA, RDT, Post Traumatic Stress Center, New Haven, CT
This presentation will explain trauma theory as it relates to children's thinking and behavior from adverse experiences and toxic stress. Exposure to toxic stress in children can occur from a variety of sources and its cumulative effect can have profound negative lifelong consequences. Toxic stress can include physical and emotional abuse or neglect, parental or caregiver mental illness and/or substance abuse that impairs the caregiver's ability to attend to the needs of their children, and other chronic stresses, severe enough to alter the normal functioning in the growing brain and disrupt healthy development. In 2012, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) through their Call to Action, not only recognized the profound urgency for addressing the potentially lifelong threats to the well-being of the child from the adverse effects of toxic stress, but calls for interventions to protect the child's growing brain. This presentation will describe how this Call to Action was addressed by assessing 176 kindergarteners for stress and maltreatment in an urban school in New Haven, CT. Results of this screening will be discussed highlighting specific intervention strategies for early intervention, including drama therapy, with the intent of ameliorating potential mental health complications, negatively impacting on childhood learning.

Learning Areas:

Assessment of individual and community needs for health education
Implementation of health education strategies, interventions and programs
Program planning
Systems thinking models (conceptual and theoretical models), applications related to public health

Learning Objectives:
Discuss how trauma theory can explain problem behaviors in children Define toxic stress and its effects on the child Explain how early screening methods can segment the population of children facilitating interventions at all levels of prevention

Keyword(s): Mental Health, School-Based Programs

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am the director of the Drama Therapy program at the Post Traumatic Stress Center in New Haven, CT. I am a clinician/trainer in their school-based program (A.L.I.V.E) and lead an early prevention initiative in an elementary school. I am a registered drama therapist and am active in the supervision and training of new drama therapists.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.