Trauma Affects a Developing Brain. Knowing That Can Make All the Difference for You and Your Students

December 6, 2019

The Virginia Journal of Education

Trauma Informed

By Tom Allen

Midway through her keynote presentation at VEA’s Instruction and Professional Development Conference in October, Dr. Lori Desautels gave the crowd a chance to see how neuroplasticity works.

“Hold up your hands,” she said, “and make the peace sign with one hand and the OK sign with the other.”

When the over 200 educators complied, she smiled and told them, “Now, as quickly as you can, change the peace sign to an OK sign while changing the OK sign to a peace sign and keep doing it. Go!”

Laughter and surprise-filled the room as participants learned how difficult the task she’d given them really was, though it sounded simple. “You’re struggling,” Desautels said, “and you should be. This is something you haven’t done before, so you don’t have the brain circuitry for it. Your brain has to develop it over time, with experience.”

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