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Archive: Blog

Too many ACEs up their sleeve

Alan Burnell, Family Futures’ Registered Manager, comments on research into Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) highlighted in the new film ‘Resilience’

The post with the greatest reach on our social networking sites recently was the Guardian article we shared on Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs). We are delighted that these research studies which began in 1995 and more recently reported in the Welsh Adverse Childhood Experiences Study are showing a link between Adverse Childhood Experiences and later life physical and mental health problems and shortened life expectancy, which we are aiming to redress through early intervention and therapeutic services.

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Neurofeedback – Is it Science Fiction?

Family Futures has completed a neurofeedback pilot with five children, which involved using computer games to reprogramme brainwaves.

Research shows that neurofeedback reduces the symptoms of conditions such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. There is now growing evidence that it also works with children who have developmental trauma. It is currently being researched by Bessel van der Kolk in Boston with developmentally traumatised children.

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How can we ensure the Adoption Support Fund works for those in urgent need?

Family Futures’ Registered Manager, Alan Burnell, says a new model is needed for the Adoption Support Fund to better support those families in crisis

The Government’s recognition of post-adoption support is vital and should be applauded, as this will ensure adoption placements don’t break down. However, I don’t believe the Adoption Support Fund has come up with the right formula.

The demand for the Adoption Support Fund has been higher than anticipated. I recognise that. Funding is also finite. However, I think “fair access” and “matched funding” aren’t the best use of the fund.

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Ways of seeing

Family Futures’ Registered Manager, Alan Burnell, dispels the link between ‘adoption’ and ‘children’s difficult behaviour’

The death of John Berger has brought one of his key quotes to the fore – “What we see affects what we understand, what we understand influences what actions we take”.

Last year I became increasingly troubled with the constant reference to adopted children and their difficulties and the need for post-adoption support. What troubled me was seeing the words ‘adoption ‘and ‘fostering’ being connected to children’s problematic behaviour.

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Reflecting on 2016: Family Futures wraps up its highlights from the last 12 months

The landscape for adoption and post adoption support has changed significantly in 2016, with challenges along the way. And as the sector gears up for regionalisation, there’s no doubt we will continue to see the sands shift in 2017.

Despite the uncertainties that lie ahead, Family Futures is really proud of all it has achieved during 2016. As Christmas approaches and 2016 rolls to a close, we capture Family Futures’ highlights in our top eight list.

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Need help in the classroom?

Our Education Consultant Marion Allen offers some advice and tips for supporting Looked After and adopted children in school.

If you’re a teacher, special educational needs coordinator or a teaching assistant working with adopted or Looked After children you may have spotted signs of behavioural and learning difficulties.

Research shows that children who have experienced neglect and abuse remain traumatised by their earlier experiences long after they are removed to a place of safety, leaving them with both emotional and psychological difficulties. The first two to three years of a child’s life are crucial not only for developing attachments, but for developing executive functioning skills which enable us to problem solve. Part of this is working memory. According to Gathercole and Alloway, 10% of the school population struggle with their working memory.

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How trauma impacts the seven senses

Family Futures’ Occupational Therapist, Mandy Ruddock, guides you through the sensory system and explains why traumatised children need help and support regulating theirs.

In our daily lives, we receive sensory information through seven senses — touch, hearing, sight, taste, smell, body position and awareness, and movement and balance. Our brain takes in, interprets and uses the sensory information received to allow us to feel safe, have fun, learn and interact successfully within our environment. For the majority of us, we carry out daily activities with ease, often without thinking about them. But the effects of trauma on a child’s sensory system can impact their ability to get on with aged-related daily tasks and participate in many aspects of life.

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Q&A with Dr Dan Hughes

Ahead of the Family Futures annual conference in October, Dr Dan Hughes chats to us about his new book The Neurobiology of Attachment-Focused Therapy and what to expect at the conference.

1. What will professionals learn from attending the Family Futures annual conference?

Professionals will understand the importance of neuropsychological and attachment research in both the development of children and the nature of the relationship between children and their caregivers.  The brains, hearts and bodies of these children have developed to cope in a world where they need to mistrust, rather than a world where they are able to trust. The implications of this research for the treatment of children who have experienced trauma and multiple placements, and their care, will also be presented.

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Starting school – managing change

We hope you have had a great summer holiday with your family. With the holidays coming to a close soon, we’ve consulted with our Education Specialist again, to give you some advice and tips on how to manage the transition back to school. This is particularly important for those starting primary school and those moving up from primary to secondary school.

For most children, and even more for adopted or looked after children, the prospect of doing something new and different can be perceived as scary. For children and young people with a history of early loss or trauma any transition experienced may be frightening. They are likely to feel stressed and anxious about the prospect of returning to a familiar school or a new one as both of these events involve change and uncertainty. Going back to school may trigger feelings of insecurity and worry. In your role as parent or primary carer, it’s important to understand that your child may be feeling stressed and how it’s affecting them, and recognise the emotions which they may communicate through their behaviour or how they present.

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New directions for adoption support

At Family Futures we are constantly developing and refining adoption support to families. In the past year we have made two new enhancements to our family support and therapy service.

  • Therapeutic family support

We are conscious that one of the short comings of “therapy” is that sometimes what is therapy stays in the therapy room. What is therapeutic is what parents do with their children day in and day out. In order for parents to feel supported in taking what they have learned from the therapy sessions into their home we have employed the first of what we hope will be several Therapeutic Support workers. Their role is and will be to go into the home and support parents in the day to day routines of caring for children and to support the parent in their developmental re-parenting approach. Many parents have said to us what they really value is practical help and practical suggestions as to what to do when their children’s behaviour becomes challenging. We know already from parents that  having a therapeutic family support worker working alongside them in the home has been really effective and supportive. Our first Therapeutic Support Worker is Mocushla O’Shea.

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