Clinical Evaluation

During early childhood, our brains are continuously modified by environmental influences. It is now widely accepted that a child’s environment and early life experiences affect the development, health, and structure of their brain. Perhaps the most intriguing aspect of the brain is its ability to change structurally and functionally in response to external stimuli, which is known as neuroplasticity. Watch the video Neuroplasticity to learn more about this concept (Sentis, 2012). Additionally, it is now believed that positive and stimulating environments promote healthy brain development. However, many children are exposed to environments that have negative consequences on brain development. Child abuse (physical, sexual, mental), poverty, trauma, and neglect constitute environmental influences that present the maturing child’s brain with experiences that will crucially and potentially adversely affect the child’s future development and functioning. There are two parts to this discussion. Before responding to this discussion, review the Week Two Instructor Guidance for additional information and resources.

Part I: Using information from the textbook to support your response, address the following:

  • Discuss the impact of environment on brain development. Support this point with at least one scholarly source in addition to the course text.
  • Explain the concept of neuroplasticity as it relates to positive and negative life experiences. Please provide a specific example to support your thinking.

Part II: Read one article from the list below and use it to support your response to the following:

  • Based on the article you chose, discuss how poverty and/or a specific type of trauma impacts brain development and behavior. Make sure to also state the article you read.
  • Explain how you will use this “trauma informed” perspective in understanding and working with children.
  • Discuss what you would do differently as a professional now that you have this knowledge and if your view of “trauma” has changed?
  • Describe what approach you might take when you need to talk to a family about a situation where the child’s academic performance and/or behavior is being impacted by trauma. What specifically would you want to discuss with the family?
    • Article 1: The Toll of ACEs: Adverse Childhood Experiences and Their Effect on Lifelong Health ( Suginaka & Boose, 2014)
    • Article 2: Complex Trauma in Children and Adolescents (Cook, et al., 2007)
    • Article 3: Neuropsychological Assessment in Clinical Evaluation of Children and Adolescents with Complex Trauma (Gabowitz, Zucker, & Cook, 2008)
    • Article 4: Traumatized Children: How Childhood Trauma Influences Brain Development (Perry, 2000)

Farrar, M. J. & Montgomery, D. (2015). Cognitive development of children:

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