Research has shown that touch is as vital for human development as food. Without consistent loving touch a child will fail to develop and thrive.
Diego M.A., Field, T., & Hernandez-Reif M. (2009). Procedural Pain Heart Rate Responses in Massaged Preterm Infants. Infant Behavioral Development, 32(2), 226-229.
Procianoy R.S., Mendes E.W., & Silveira R.C. (2010) Massage therapy improves neurodevelopment outcome at two years corrected age for very low birth weight infants. Early Human Development, 86(1), 7-11.
Hernandez-Reif M., Diego M., & Field T. (2007). Preterm Infants Show Reduced Stress Behaviors and Activity after 5 days of Massage Therapy. Infant Behavior Development, 30(4), 557–561.
Infant Massage: A Handbook for Loving Parents Vimala McClure
Hughes D., Ladas E., Rooney D., & Kelly K. (2008). Massage therapy as a supportive care intervention for children with cancer. Oncology Nursing Forum, 35(3), 431-442.
Beider S., Mahrer N.E., & Gold J.I. (2007). Pediatric Massage Therapy: An Overview for Clinicians. Pediatric Clinics of North America, 54(6), 1025-1041.
Diego M.A., Field T., Hernandez-Reif M., Shaw K., Friedman L., & Ironson G. (2001). HIV adolescents show improved immune function following massage therapy. International Journal of Neuroscience, 106(1-2), 35-45.
Moyer C.A. (2008). Affective Massage Therapy. International Journal of Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork, 1(2), 3-5.
Massage Affordable Care Act
Mate, G. (2000). Scattered: How Attention Deficit Disorder Originates and What You Can Do About It. Plume.
In order to develop normally after birth, then, we need parents who will tend to our needs, help us learn to manage our emotions in the context of a loving, joyful relationship and make us feel safe in the world. These are the conditions we need in order to thrive, emotionally and neurologically. When our parents fail, we’re unable to develop as we normally would; growing up, we know on an intuitive, deeply felt level that our development has gone awry, instilling a core sense that something is wrong with us.
We don’t need a perfect environment upon birth, only one that is “good enough,” in Winnicott’s terms. As we move along the spectrum of possibilities away from “good enough” toward more limited, traumatic and abusive environments, those defects increasingly impact and damage our development. The sense of basic shame will also intensify along that spectrum: the more deficient the early experience, the more pervasive will be the sense of damage and thus of basic shame. These feelings will be carried by the person throughout his or her life.
Even if early environment isn’t abusive or highly traumatic, we may develop pockets of shame when our parents let us down in important ways. Maybe boundaries between mother and child are confused, and the parent has difficulty bearing separation. A mother may become so mired in anxiety or depression that it limits her ability to meet her baby’s needs, etc. In these cases – somewhere in between “good enough” and highly deficient – the damage may be less severe and so will our feelings of shame or internal ugliness; our defenses against that experience won’t dominate our character so pervasively.
Lyons-Ruth K. (1996). Attachment relationships among children with aggressive behavior problems: the role of disorganized early attachment patterns. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 64(1), 64-73.
Benoit, D. (2004). Infant-parent attachment: Definition, types, antecedents, measurement and outcome. Paediatr Child Health, 9(8), 541-545.
Silva L., Schalock M. (2013). Treatment of Tactile Impairment in Young Children with Autism: Results with Qigong Massage. International Journal of Therapeutic Massage Bodywork, 6(4), 12-20.
Bliss, E. (2014). On Immunity: An Inoculation. Graywolf Press.
(Note: one thing to consider is that we “cannot assume that early hormonal influences on neural development in other mammals, particularly those involving the cerebral cortex, are preserved in humans.” Hines from Fine 103)
Elise B. Robinson B. E., Lichtenstein P., Anckarsäter H., Happé F., & Ronald A. (2013). Examining and Interpreting the Female Protective Effect Against Autistic Behavior. PNAS, 110(13).
Lai M-C., Lombardo M.V., Auyeung B., Chakrabarti B., & Baron-Cohen S. Sex/Gender Differences and Autism: Setting the Scene for Future Research. Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, 54 (1), 11-24.
van Anders, S. M., Steiger, J., & Goldey, K. L. (2015). Effects of Gendered Behavior on Testosterone in Women and Men. PNAS, 112, 45.
Morrongiello A. B., & Dawber T. (1999). Parental Influences on Toddlers' Injury-Risk Behaviors: Are Sons and Daughters Socialized Differently? Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology, 20(2), 227-251.
Fine, C. (2010). Delusions of Gender: How Our Minds, Society, and Neurosexism Create Difference.W. W. Norton & Company.
Jordan-Young, R. M. (2010). Brain Storm: The Flaws in the Science of Sex Differences. Harvard University Press
There are certainly good and bad ways for parents to handle poor behavior (an issue for another column), but the existence of tantrums, and the tendency for toddlers to tackle their woes through screaming and hitting and throwing, is perfectly normal because it’s sometimes “the toddler’s only recourse,” says Tovah Klein, director of the Barnard College Center for Toddler Development. If your universe were amazing and terrifying and frustrating and unpredictable, and you didn’t have good communication skills or a whole lot of experience or much of a frontal lobe, you’d freak out every once in a while, too.
Cheng C.D., Volk A. A., & Marini Z.A. (2011). Supporting Fathering Through Infant Massage. The Journal of Perinatal Education, 20(4), 200–209.
Alissa Levy Chung: “Preschoolers learn through the language of play and through movement and active participation. When children play, they integrate cognitive, social, and emotional gains. They build their language skills by communicating their ideas with their peers and then challenge themselves cognitively to integrate others' ideas with their own. In play, they also have to regulate their excitement, anger, frustration, and sadness through the course of their games and interactions. All the while, they are building their social skills by learning what kinds of behaviors attract friends and keep others in the game and what kinds of behaviors upset others or push them away. In self-directed play, children learn that their towers stay up better when they put the bigger blocks on the bottom. When they are in teacher-directed activities, children learn better when they can tie their knowledge to their real lives, to things they can see, hear, smell, taste, and touch. They may be young scientists, learning about plants by putting seeds into the ground and taking care of them, seeing what happens with water and sunlight. While reading books with adults, they are encouraged to ask questions about the stories, to predict what might happen next, and to make connections to their own lives. They learn how to tell their own stories, the seeds of future writing projects. All of these foundational skills are critical for later learning. It may look like they are "just playing," but it is the critical work of childhood. Numbers, letters, and seatwork come later, but without these foundations for how to ask questions, how to integrate ideas, how to be part of a community, and how to regulate emotions in a social context, learning will only be superficial.”
The Out-of-Body Experience: Disturbed Self-Processing at the Temporo-Parietal Junction
Well, brain scans of people who have gone through out-of-body experiences show that they tend to have damage to areas of the brain that just so happen to be responsible for sensory data, motor functions, balance, and the aforementioned ability to sense their body's position and movement in space. When that part of the brain misfires badly enough, you can feel like your entire body is in the wrong place. Swiss researchers have actually been able to replicate the out-of-body effect by stimulating the right angular gyrus, which, despite sounding like an invention from an episode of DuckTales, is actually the area of the brain that's responsible for creating the mind's representation of oneself. While treating a woman with epilepsy with electrical stimulation courtesy of cranium electrodes, the researchers found out they could deliberately cause her to experience sensations of falling or becoming lighter. As the intensity of the electrodes increased, she eventually said that she was able to see herself from above Now, that part is a little harder to explain, aside from the fact that lots of what you "see" is your brain cobbling together conflicting data into some coherent whole that makes sense. When one part of the brain says, "Whoa, our eyes are totally 10 feet away from our skull right now!" it probably just quickly gives you the "view" of the room you would expect to have in that situation. Truly, your brain is never more impressive than when it's just making shit up.
Copeland W.E., Keeler G., Angold A., Costello E.J. (2007). Traumatic Events and Posttraumatic Stress in Childhood. Archives General Psychiatry. 64(5):577-584.
Cohen J.A., Kelly K.J., Mannarino A.P. (2008). Identifying, Treating, and Referring Traumatized Children: The Role of Pediatric Providers. Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine.162(5):447-452.
(Trauma and Attachment Informed Sensory Integration Assessment and Intervention)
(in particular page 4, 14)
Levine, P. A., & Kline, M. (2008) Trauma-Proofing Your Kids: A Parent's Guide for Instilling Confidence, Joy, and Resilience. North Atlantic Books. (Note: this books discussion of childhood sexuality/development of sexuality is a bit outdated and only somewhat accurate for a small percentage of individuals in certain family dynamics)
Gurwitch R.H., Pfefferbaum B.,& Leftwich M.J.T. (2002). The Impact of Terrorism on Children. Journal of Trauma Practice, 1, 3-4.
Milner J.S., Thomsen C.J., Crouch J.L., Rabenhorst M.M., Martens P.M., Dyslin C.W., Guimond J.M., Stander V.A., & Merrill L.L. (2010). Do trauma symptoms mediate the relationship between childhood physical abuse and adult child abuse risk? Child Abuse & Neglect, 34(5),332-344.
Their advice springs straight from Françoise Dolto, the influential psychoanalyst who was the French equivalent of Dr. Spock: Be honest.
Beginning in 1976, Dr. Dolto did a daily 10-minute radio show in which she responded to letters from parents. One of her recurring messages was that kids don’t need to be constantly happy; they need to understand what’s going on around them. Even in tough times, parents should tell them the truth — often in simple terms — and help them process it. It’s far worse if kids sense that something’s wrong, but no one talks to them about it. She advised bringing even a small child to a grandparent’s funeral, and gently explaining, “Voilà, it’s the burial of your grandfather, it’s something that happens.”Children “don’t live on planet Mars,” said François Dufour, editor in chief of Le Petit Quotidien and two other daily French newspapers, for kids ages 6 to 17. “They live in the same world we do.” But there are limits; he and others agreed that parents shouldn’t show kids any photos or footage of the violence. ”My advice to parents is to start with the questions of the children,” he said.
Mate, G. (2010). In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts: Close Encounters with Addiction. North Atlantic Books.
Mate, G. (2011) When the Body Says No: Exploring the Stress-Disease Connection. Wiley.
Because I do believe that family is the source of all the love and all the horror in our life.
Field T. (2002). Violence and touch deprivation in adolescents. Adolescence, 37(148),735-749.
Lowe, R. M., & Hashke, P.J. (2008). Growing pains: a noninflammatory pain syndrome of early childhood. Nature Reviews Rheumatology, 4, 542-549.
Allen, T. Touch Therapy for Liddle Kidz with Trauma. (source of quote in trauma)
Nagoski, E. (2015) Come as You Are. Simon & Schuster Paperbacks. (footnote 2 in trauma)
(4 Weird Pregnancy Facts from cracked)
(ted talk The Forgotten History of Autism)
https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC9Bk0GbW8xgvTgQlheNG5uw (Ask an Autistic youtube channel)
(Cat/Kitten Video Illustrating Learning by Imitation)
(ted talk The Power of Addiction and The Addiction of Power)
(The Science of Neglect)
(The Science of Early Childhood Development)
(The Science of Resilience)
(Pediatric Manual Therapy for Infants)
(Dr. Hamilton Demonstrates "The Hold" - How To Calm A Crying Baby)
10:14-18:00 (Attachment Theory)
(The Real Reason You're Circumcised - Adam Ruins Everything)
If you would like more in depth information or have questions on the following-autism/neurodiversity, SPD, trauma, gender- I’d be happy to either have a one on one conversation or help lead a parent discussion on these topics. I will regularly update and add new information.