When your child or someone you know exhibits tantrums and outbursts without any apparent reason, he/she may be stressed. Stress refers to anything that poses a challenge or threat to the quality of our lives. Individuals with learning difficulties, developmental delays, psychological disorders and even those typically-developing people are all prone to stress.
But what makes it harder for children and adults with special needs?
A 30-minute writing task could mean half-a-day’s work for a young person with Learning Difficulties. Someone with Auditory Processing Disorder (APD) would take a long time to understand a set of oral instructions from his or her employer. And a learner with Autism would not be able to fully function in a group activity.
Yes, challenges can be good from time to time. But prolonged exposure to these uncomfortable or traumatic experiences can lead to a life-threatening kind of stress if not anxiety and depressive disorders. Researchers from Harvard University identified three kinds of stress responses: positive, tolerable, and toxic.
Positive stress response: A normal and essential for optimum development, characterized by “brief increases in heart rate and mild elevations in hormone levels”.
Tolerable stress response: An activation of the alert systems in the body to a greater degree but still time-limited and can be pacified by relationships. This results from severe, long-lasting difficulties such as a loss of a loved one, natural disaster, or serious injury.
Toxic stress response: A strong, frequent, and/or prolonged difficulties such as:
- Physical/ Emotional Abuse
- Caregiver abuse
- Mental illness
- Exposure to violence
- Economic trials
Prolonged activation of this stress can disrupt the development of brain structure other systems in the body increasing risks to diseases and cognitive impairment later in life.
Continue reading to learn more about stress and how the Tomatis® Method can help you and your family!