Who Are Children from Hard Places?
You may have noticed on our blog that we often refer to adopted and foster children as “children from hard places.” This term was coined by Dr. Karyn Purvis, and you can watch her explain it in a video. Any child who has experienced any number of adverse circumstances or risk factors could be described as a child from a hard place. There are 6 risk factors (from Chapter 2 of The Connected Child and Empowered to Connect curriculum) that are considered to increase the likelihood of a child exhibiting certain maladaptive ways of relating to the world, including challenges with attachment and sensory processing:
6 Risk Factors:
- Stressful pregnancy – chronic stress, depression/anxiety, consumption of drugs/alcohol, and poor nutrition can all negatively affect a child’s development in utero.
- Difficult labour/delivery – development can be negatively impacted when the brain is deprived of oxygen for short periods of time during delivery, for example.
- Early hospitalization/medical trauma – this includes surgical procedures as well as time spent in neo-natal intensive care.
- Abuse – includes all forms of abuse: physical, verbal, emotional, sexual.
- Trauma – defined by Deborah Gray (Attaching in Adoption, p. 120) as “any event outside the usual range of human experience that would be markedly distressing to almost anyone.” This could include living through a natural disaster, or being separated from your biological family.
- Neglect – people used to think neglect wasn’t as bad as abuse, but it is now thought to be more damaging, since a child who is neglected believes they have no one to turn to when they need someone, whereas a child in an abusive relationship may have their needs met some of the time.
As you can see, it is not only children who have been adopted and/or placed in foster care who are at risk! Many children who are being raised by their biological parents may have experienced one or more of these adverse circumstances; adopted and foster children are just more likely to have experienced more than one. In fact, many parents other than adoptive/foster parents have found the principles taught in The Connected Child to be incredibly beneficial to their families.
For more information, check out the wealth of resources at http://empoweredtoconnect.org.