Understanding the Impact of Trauma on Students with Autism

At this time of crisis, the loss of connection to one’s school community, and the relationships, supports, programs, and services a student may benefit from at school, will cause many students to feel lost and frightened. It is critically important to think about the needs of students with particular disabilities who rely on routine and predictability to manage stress and self-regulate traumatic reactions in productive ways. All students, but especially students with particular disabilities, may exhibit responses to this overwhelming stress that are confusing to adults.  Looking through a trauma lens can help adults better understand and respond to what a student may be feeling.

Autism and Trauma: The Intersection

Recently, two noted neuropsychological experts, Dr. Stephanie Monaghan-Blout and Dr. Nancy Roosa of Neuropsychology & Education Services for Children & Adolescents (NESCA), delivered an online presentation  titled  “Autism and Trauma: The Intersection” that provides some very helpful insights for understanding how neurodiverse students may react to traumatic stress. These insights may be particularly useful during this time of heightened uncertainty. Sharing an in-depth analysis of trauma’s impact on students with autism and related neurodevelopmental challenges, they show us how using a trauma lens can resolve so much misunderstanding. The speakers urge us to keep our focus on creating a sense of safety, maintaining a predictable environment, and enhancing strong relationships.

We express enormous appreciation to school personnel who are working to stay connected to students and families and maintain the fabric of a supportive school community. We are inspired by families working to support children who are struggling to manage their fears and maintain a sense of their strengths and resiliency during this time.

Hoping you are safe and well,

Susan, Michael, Joe, Anne, Jinny, Bettina and Marissa

-the TLPI Team


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