Understanding Traumatic Stress in Infants and Toddlers

Presenters: Linda Perez and Julie Nicholson

March 16, 2017

This interactive webinar will increase participants’ understanding of trauma and the impact of traumatic stress in infants and toddlers, including the impact of traumatic experiences on infants and toddlers’ physiology and early brain development. Balanced with a discussion of trauma will be information on the importance of protecting environmental factors that help to reduce traumatic stress and improve healing and healthy development in the early years. Emphasis will be placed on the role of caring adults who are attuned to infants' and toddlers’ needs and foster feelings of safety to buffer them from high stress, promote physical health, and facilitate secure attachment and emotional development.

PowerPoint Presentation (PDF)

Linda Perez

Linda Perez is a Licensed Clinical Psychologist and Professor of Education at Mills College, co-director of the Mills Infant Mental Health Program, and Clinical Director of the Epiphany Center Family Treatment Program. Her teaching and clinical practice are informed by 35 years of clinical, teaching, and research experience.

Perez has a profound interest in serving low-income mothers with psychiatric and substance abuse problems and our growing population of infants and young children with a range of special needs enduring traumatic stress and living in impoverished or dangerous environments. Her scholarly pursuits include a series of peer review articles and book chapters that contributed theoretical and scientific knowledge to the field of infant mental health.

Perez is the recipient of several honors and grants and has participated in research projects that promote innovative clinical practice that treats early childhood trauma. Additionally, Perez has presented her work at international, national, and local conferences, and she has served on local advisory boards for Head Start and Early Head Start. She obtained a Ph.D. from the University of California, Berkeley in education, special education, and educational psychology.

Julie Nicholson

Julie Nicholson recently transitioned into the role of Deputy Director for WestEd’s Center for Child and Family Studies. Previously, Nicholson was an Associate Professor of Practice, Chair of Early Childhood Education, and Director of the Center for Play Research in the School of Education at Mills College. She has published over 30 research articles on a range of topics including leadership in early childhood, play across the lifespan, trauma-informed early childhood practices, consequential validity in ECE assessments, pre-natal-8 systems reform, and responsive early childhood practices to support gender-expansive children.

Nicholson has been passionate for the past 15 years to bring knowledge of the impact of trauma and toxic stress on children’s development to her students, to parents and families, and a wide range of organizations and community stakeholders. Her deep interest in this topic stems from her personal experiences parenting her two youngest daughters who experienced early relational loss and trauma.

Nicholson serves on the Board of Directors for the Association for Childhood Education International. She earned a Ph.D. in early childhood education from the University of Michigan.

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