From the NY Times under the headline "Teaching Children to Calm Themselves":
Children . . . who experience neglect, severe stress or sudden separation at a young age can be traumatized. Without appropriate adult support, trauma can interfere with healthy brain development, inhibiting children’s ability to make good decisions, use memory or use sequential thought processes to work through problems.
Do these children expect the world to accommodate them?
The education system responds bluntly to kids with these challenges. The standard arsenal of disciplinary measures — from yelling and “timeouts” to detentions and suspensions — are not just ineffective for children who have experienced traumatic stress; they make things worse. By some estimates, preschool expulsions are 13 times more common than K-12 expulsions — a finding that, given the bleak future it portends for these children (and the associated costs for society), should send alarm bells ringing across the nation.
I don't actually think these children expect anything, much less to be accommodated. But is it a good idea to accommodate them? Probably, at least as long as it is cheaper to accommodate them and provide them with adequate coping mechanisms while they are young rather than leaving them to continue their behavioral issues into adulthood, and all of the accompanying social costs that would entail. At least that is the economic rationale for whether it is a good idea. Is there a moral one? And if so, does the moral one say that we should help them? Or maybe that we shouldn't accommodate bad behavior (the classic parental excuse, "he just wants _____, so don't give it to him)? Maybe our moral beliefs cause us to believe that people should bear all responsibility for controlling any behavior that is even remotely volitional? Or do we only start saying those sorts of things about people once they've turned 18 and become an adult who still has behavioral problems (i.e. after society has already failed them)?
One of the most interesting parts of the article to me was what sort of "special accommodations" were advocated for these children:
Luke is receiving individual therapy. But he is also surrounded by caregivers who understand his needs and know how to respond when he needs help. Through the Head Start Trauma Smart model, teachers, parents and even the bus drivers and cafeteria workers who interact with children receive training in trauma.
This allows them to respond more skillfully, rather than reacting out of anger, frustration or resentment. Indeed, one of the biggest lessons for teachers and parents who undergo this training is that the very first step is learning how to calm, and care for, themselves, especially when they are overstressed.
In other words, one of the primary goals of the training is to try to minimize the caregivers' own emotional reactions to the child's behavior -- to focus on calming their own selves down first. Does that suggest any plan of action to empaths who deal with sociopaths on a regular basis?
One bus driver who underwent the training explained how it changed the way she sees the world:
“I used to be the kind of person who said, ‘The way it looks is the way it is.’ But I don’t look at it that way anymore,” McIntosh said. “There are things that happen to people that we don’t know about.”
And as a director of a similar program argued:
“We’re built to succeed as human beings. If that normal process gets disrupted, we need to do anything we can do to put it back on track.”
Could it be that sociopath children who have experienced trauma have already come up with a way(s) to put their lives on track to overcome their chaotic environments? But in a way that is both more efficient, powerful and more objectionable than people would like to see in their child victims of trauma?