A Trauma-Informed Approach What is trauma-informed practice?SMH utilizes a trauma-informed, multi-tiered approach to student support. By viewing a child’s past experiences through a trauma lens, it is recognized that behaviors (e.g., disruptive behavior, difficulty engaging, or trouble learning) may be a student’s attempt to communicate an emotional need or to cope with symptoms of trauma. By shifting away from a deficit approach, exemplified by the question, “What is wrong with you?” and asking instead, “What happened to you?” an opening to begin the process of support and recovery is created. This approach not only aids the healing process for individuals who have experienced trauma, but it also increases the likelihood of early detection and early intervention. Evidence shows that the healing process plays a key role in a student’s ability to learn and achieve in school and in life.Why a trauma-informed approach?Over the last 20 years, studies have demonstrated an irrefutable link between exposure to community violence and other Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) to a host of social, academic, and behavioral challenges including: decreased IQ and reading ability; lower grade-point average; higher school absenteeism; increased expulsions and suspensions; decreased rates of high school graduation; failing to understand directions; overreacting to comments from teachers and peers; misreading context; failing to connect cause and effect; and other forms of miscommunication. A single adverse experience can cause: jumpiness; intrusive thoughts; interrupted sleep and nightmares; anger and moodiness; social withdrawal; and concentration and memory difficulties.Longitudinal studies of ACEs such as abuse, neglect, and extreme family instability have also pointed to an impact across the lifespan for those with multiple such ACEs. This impact includes greater risk for health, mental health, social difficulties, and a shorter life expectancy. Early intervention can have a significant, positive effect on these at-risk lifespan trajectories.