1. Study looks at effects of cognitive behavior therapy on parents of children with autism

    August 17, 2017 by Ashley

    From the York University press release:

    Parents of children with autism experience a greater impact from their child’s therapy than once thought, according to new research out of York University’s Faculty of Health.

    Jonathan Weiss, Associate Professor in the Department of Psychology, Faculty of Health and CIHR Chair in Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) Treatment and Care Research, discovered that parents who participate in cognitive therapy with their children with autism also experience a real benefit that improves the family experience.

    Approximately 70 per cent of children with autism struggle with emotional or behavioural problems, and may benefit from cognitive behaviour therapy to improve their ability to manage their emotions.

    “Most of the time when parents bring in their kids for cognitive behaviour therapy, they are in a separate room learning what their children are doing, and are not being co-therapists,” said Weiss. “What’s unique about what we studied is what happens when parents are partners in the process from start to finish. Increasingly we know that it’s helpful for kids with autism, specifically, and now we have proven that it’s helpful for their parents too.”

    Parents who took part in the study were involved in a randomized controlled trial. They were asked to complete surveys before and after the treatment and were compared to parents who had not begun therapy.

    Weiss and Ph.D student Andrea Maughan, examined changes in parent mental health, mindfulness, and perceptions of their children, during a trial of cognitive behaviour therapy for 57 children with ASD aged 8-12 who did not have an intellectual disability. The study, published in the Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, showed that parents who participated in cognitive therapy with their children, experienced improvements in their own depression, emotion regulation, and mindful parenting.

    “The research showed that parents improved their abilities to handle their own emotions and to see themselves in a more positive light,” said Weiss. “It helped them to become more aware of their parenting and all of the good they do as parents.”

    In the study, parents were co-therapists with their child’s therapist and were tasked with employing the same strategies alongside their children. This allowed the parents learn to help themselves in the process. Parents were required to write down their children’s thoughts during activities.

    “As a parent participating in the SAS:OR Program, I have grown as much as my son did. I used to use a “one size fits all” strategy with my son — now he and I have many tools to manage through difficult moments,” said Jessica Jannarone, a parent involved in study. “The ability to talk about our feelings, identify triggers, and think proactively about approaches has brought both positivity and comfort to our lives. Watching my son develop in this program and find a way to start handling his feelings has been the greatest gift of all.”

    Weiss added the findings also speak to the importance for health care providers to involve parents in the process of delivering care to children with autism.

    “We know parents of children with autism, in addition to all the positive experiences they have, also experience high levels of distress. So if we can do something to reduce that, we have a responsibility to try to do so.”


  2. Toddlers begin learning rules of reading, writing at very early age

    August 16, 2017 by Ashley

    From the Washington University in St. Louis press release:

    A 5-year-old who writes “fepiri” when asked to write the word “touch” might seem to know nothing about spelling, but this attempt looks more like a word than “fpbczs” as produced by a 4-year-old.

    Even the proudest of parents may struggle to find some semblance of meaning behind the seemingly random mish-mash of letters that often emerge from a toddler’s first scribbled and scrawled attempts at putting words on paper.

    But new research from Washington University in St. Louis suggests that children as young as 3 already are beginning to recognize and follow important rules and patterns governing how letters in the English language fit together to make words.

    The study, published this month in the journal Child Development, provides new evidence that children start to learn about some aspects of reading and writing at a very early age.

    “Our results show that children begin to learn about the statistics of written language, for example about which letters often appear together and which letters appear together less often, before they learn how letters represent the sounds of a language,” said study co-author Rebecca Treiman, a professor of psychological and brain sciences in Arts & Sciences.

    An important part of learning to read and spell is learning about how the letters in written words reflect the sounds in spoken words. Children often begin to show this knowledge around 5 or 6 years of age when they produce spellings such as BO or BLO for “blow.”

    We tend to think that learning to spell doesn’t really begin until children start inventing spellings that reflect the sounds in spoken words — spellings like C or KI for “climb.” These early invented spellings may not represent all of the sounds in a word, but children are clearly listening to the word and trying to use letters to symbolize some of the words within it, Treiman said.

    As children get older, these sound-based spellings improve. For example, children may move from something like KI for “climb” to something like KLIM.

    “Many studies have examined how children’s invented spellings improve as they get older, but no previous studies have asked whether children’s spellings improve even before they are able to produce spellings that represent the sounds in words,” Treiman said. “Our study found improvements over this period, with spellings becoming more wordlike in appearance over the preschool years in a group of children who did not yet use letters to stand for sounds.”

    Treiman’s study analyzed the spellings of 179 children from the United States (age 3 years, 2 months to 5 years, 6 months) who were prephonological spellers. That is, when asked to try to write words, the children used letters that did not reflect the sounds in the words they were asked to spell, which is common and normal at this age.

    On a variety of measures, the older prephonological spellers showed more knowledge about English letter patterns than did the younger prephonological spellers. When the researchers asked adults to rate the children’s productions for how much they looked like English words, they found that the adults gave higher ratings, on average, to the productions of older prephonological spellers than to the productions of younger prephonological spellers.

    The productions of older prephonological spellers also were more word-like on several objective measures, including length, use of different letters within words, and combinations of letters. For example:

    A 5-year-old who writes “fepiri” when asked to write the word “touch” might seem to know nothing about spelling, but this attempt looks more like a word than “fpbczs” as produced by a 4-year-old.

    “While neither spelling makes sense as an attempt to represent sounds, the older child’s effort shows that he or she knows more about the appearance of English words,” Treiman said.

    The findings are important, Treiman said, because they show that exposure to written words during the 3-to-5-year age range may be important in getting children off to a strong start with their reading, writing and spelling skills.

    “Our results show that there is change and improvement with age during this period before children produce spellings that make sense on the basis of sound.” Treiman said. “In many ways, the spellings produced during this period of time are more wordlike when children are older than when they are younger. That is, even though the spellings don’t represent the sounds of words, they start looking more like actual words.”

    “This is pretty interesting, because it suggests that children are starting to learn about one aspect of spelling — what words look like — from an earlier point than we’d given them credit for,” she said. “It opens up the possibility that educators could get useful information from children’s early attempts to write- information that could help to show whether a child is on track for future success or whether there might be a problem.”


  3. High-fat diet in pregnancy can cause mental health problems in offspring

    August 14, 2017 by Ashley

    From the Oregon Health & Science University press release:

    A high-fat diet not only creates health problems for expectant mothers, but new research in an animal model suggests it alters the development of the brain and endocrine system of their offspring and has a long-term impact on offspring behavior. The new study links an unhealthy diet during pregnancy to mental health disorders such as anxiety and depression in children.

    “Given the high level of dietary fat consumption and maternal obesity in developed nations, these findings have important implications for the mental health of future generations,” the researchers report.

    The research was published in the journal Frontiers in Endocrinology.

    The study, led by Elinor Sullivan, Ph.D., an assistant professor in the Division of Neuroscience at Oregon National Primate Research Center at OHSU, tested the effect of a maternal high-fat diet on nonhuman primates, tightly controlling their diet in a way that would be impossible in a human population. The study revealed behavioral changes in the offspring associated with impaired development of the central serotonin system in the brain. Further, it showed that introducing a healthy diet to the offspring at an early age failed to reverse the effect.

    Previous observational studies in people correlated maternal obesity with a range of mental health and neurodevelopmental disorders in children. The new research demonstrates for the first time that a high-fat diet, increasingly common in the developed world, caused long-lasting mental health ramifications for the offspring of non-human primates.

    In the United States, 64 percent of women of reproductive age are overweight and 35 percent are obese. The new study suggests that the U.S. obesity epidemic may be imposing transgenerational effects.

    “It’s not about blaming the mother,” said Sullivan, senior author on the study. “It’s about educating pregnant women about the potential risks of a high-fat diet in pregnancy and empowering them and their families to make healthy choices by providing support. We also need to craft public policies that promote healthy lifestyles and diets.”

    Researchers grouped a total of 65 female Japanese macaques into two groups, one given a high-fat diet and one a control diet during pregnancy. They subsequently measured and compared anxiety-like behavior among 135 offspring and found that both males and females exposed to a high-fat diet during pregnancy exhibited greater incidence of anxiety compared with those in the control group. The scientists also examined physiological differences between the two groups, finding that exposure to a high-fat diet during gestation and early in development impaired the development of neurons containing serotonin, a neurotransmitter that’s critical in developing brains.

    The new findings suggest that diet is at least as important as genetic predisposition to neurodevelopmental disorders such as anxiety or depression, said an OHSU pediatric psychiatrist who was not involved in the research.

    “I think it’s quite dramatic,” said Joel Nigg, Ph.D., professor of psychiatry, pediatrics, and behavioral neuroscience in the OHSU School of Medicine. “A lot of people are going to be astonished to see that the maternal diet has this big of an effect on the behavior of the offspring. We’ve always looked at the link between obesity and physical diseases like heart disease, but this is really the clearest demonstration that it’s also affecting the brain.”

    Sullivan and research assistant and first author Jacqueline Thompson said they believe the findings provide evidence that mobilizing public resources to provide healthy food and pre- and post-natal care to families of all socioeconomic classes could reduce mental health disorders in future generations.

    “My hope is that increased public awareness about the origins of neuropsychiatric disorders can improve our identification and management of these conditions, both at an individual and societal level,” Thompson said.


  4. Trauma-informed, mindfulness-based intervention significantly improves parenting

    August 12, 2017 by Ashley

    From the Thomas Jefferson University press release:

    Researchers at Jefferson’s Maternal Addiction Treatment Education & Research (MATER) program found significant improvement in the quality of parenting among mothers who participated in a trauma-informed, mindfulness-based parenting intervention while also in medication-assisted treatment for opioid use disorder. Results of the study, the first to scientifically test a mindfulness-based parenting intervention with this population, were published July 27 in the Journal of Addiction Medicine.

    “Our results validate a powerful intervention when it is needed most,” said senior author Diane Abatemarco, Ph.D., MSW, principal investigator, Director of MATER and Associate Professor of OB/GYN and Pediatrics in the Sidney Kimmel Medical College at Thomas Jefferson University. “By improving parenting through mindfulness, we may be able to change the intergenerational trajectory of trauma and improve children’s and families’ lives.”

    A total of 160 women participated in a 12-week mindful parenting intervention at Jefferson’s Family Center, an outpatient and intensive outpatient treatment center that cares for women who are pregnant, parenting or working toward reuniting with their child. The mindfulness-based program included mother/baby education and practice, education on the impact of trauma, and mindfulness meditation. Themes included non-judgment, full attention and compassion.

    “We designed the mindfulness-based parenting program to give women the resources and tools to be great parents. Our program supports moms, building their self-efficacy and self-confidence,” said Abatemarco.

    The research team conducted pre- and post-tests with the women using three validated instruments to measure observed parenting quality, the mother’s childhood trauma exposure and self-reported mindful parenting. Women who participated in the mindfulness-based parenting program experienced a clinically significant increase in parenting quality, from “low” at baseline to “moderate” at completion.

    “We also found that attendance matters,” said Meghan Gannon, Ph.D., MSPH, first author and research project manager at MATER. “For women who experienced high levels of childhood trauma, attendance was key to improving parenting.”


  5. Tools help identify patients at risk for autism spectrum disorders

    August 7, 2017 by Ashley

    From the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center press release:

    A tool intended to detect signs of autism in high-risk infants can be used to help identify and treat patients with tuberous sclerosis complex (TSC), a genetic disorder, who most need early intervention. Moreover, they can identify these patients earlier than ever before.

    A new study, published online in Pediatric Neurology, evaluated children with TSC, which causes malformations and tumors in the brain and other vital organs and has a high prevalence of autism spectrum disorders (ASD).

    “Single gene syndromes with a high prevalence of neurodevelopmental disorders, such as TSC, provide unique opportunities to investigate the underlying biology and identify potential treatments for ASD,” says Jamie Capal, MD, a neurodevelopmental and autism specialist in the Division of Neurology at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center and lead author of the study. “These disorders provide populations in which ASD symptoms can be identified and measured before the formal diagnosis of ASD is made.”

    Capal led the study of 79 children up to 24 months old. These children with TSC are part of a larger group of children enrolled in the TSC Autism Center of Excellence Research Network (TACERN). This is a multicenter study to identify biomarkers of ASD.

    The researchers administered the Autism Observation Scale for Infants (AOSI) at 12 months of age followed by the Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule-2 (ADOS-2), a diagnostic tool, at 24 months.

    The AOSI was designed primarily as a research tool to identify early signs of autism in high-risk infants who have an older sibling with autism. The scale includes seven activities that allow researchers to observe behaviors such as visual tracking and response to facial emotion.

    “The ASD group had a mean AOSI total score at 12 months significantly higher than the non-ASD group, demonstrating that it is a useful clinical tool in determining which infants with TSC are at increased risk of developing ASD.” says Capal.


  6. Family factors may influence a child’s temperament

    August 5, 2017 by Ashley

    From the Wiley press release:

    A new study indicates that a child’s temperament may be influenced by maternal postpartum depression, maternal sensitivity, and family functioning. Maternal depression was associated with difficult temperaments in infants when maternal sensitivity was low, but not when maternal sensitivity was high. Family functioning similarly moderated these links.

    The findings suggest that family factors play a critical role in shaping the trajectory of an infant’s behavioral style as it unfolds over development.

    For example, even when dealing with depression, mothers who consistently and appropriately respond to their infants’ needs, which are hallmarks of sensitive parenting, may more effectively teach their infants how to regulate their negative emotions than mothers who respond less sensitively. Similarly, a highly functioning family unit characterized by effective communication and high interpersonal involvement among family members may support an infant’s emotion regulation even when the mother is depressed.

    “Maternal postpartum depression was only associated with persistently difficult infant temperament when other family risk factors were present,” said Dr. Stephanie Parade, lead author of the Child Development study. “This work underscores the importance of supporting families in the postpartum period.”


  7. How exposure to a foreign language ignites infants’ learning

    August 2, 2017 by Ashley

    From the University of Washington press release:

    For years, scientists and parents alike have touted the benefits of introducing babies to two languages: Bilingual experience has been shown to improve cognitive abilities, especially problem-solving.

    And for infants raised in households where two languages are spoken, that bilingual learning happens almost effortlessly. But how can babies in monolingual households develop such skills?

    “As researchers studying early language development, we often hear from parents who are eager to provide their child with an opportunity to learn another language, but can’t afford a nanny from a foreign country and don’t speak a foreign language themselves,” said Naja Ferjan Ramirez, a research scientist at the University of Washington Institute of Learning & Brain Sciences (I-LABS).

    A new study by I-LABS researchers, published July 17 in Mind, Brain, and Education, is among the first to investigate how babies can learn a second language outside of the home. The researchers sought to answer a fundamental question: Can babies be taught a second language if they don’t get foreign language exposure at home, and if so, what kind of foreign language exposure, and how much, is needed to spark that learning?

    The researchers took their query all the way to Europe, developing a play-based, intensive, English-language method and curriculum and implementing it in four public infant-education centers in Madrid, Spain. Sixteen UW undergraduates and recent graduates served as tutors for the study, undergoing two weeks of training at I-LABS to learn the teaching method and curriculum before traveling to Spain. The country’s extensive public education system enabled the researchers to enroll 280 infants and children from families of varying income levels.

    Based on years of I-LABS research on infant brain and language development, the method emphasizes social interaction, play, and high quality and quantity of language from the teachers. The approach uses “infant-directed speech” — often called “parentese” — the speech style parents use to talk to their babies, which has simpler grammar, higher and exaggerated pitch, and drawn-out vowels.

    “Our research shows that parentese helps babies learn language,” Ferjan Ramirez said.

    Babies aged 7 to 33.5 months were given one hour of English sessions a day for 18 weeks, while a control group received the Madrid schools’ standard bilingual program. Both groups of children were tested in Spanish and English at the start and end of the 18 weeks. The children also wore special vests outfitted with lightweight recorders that recorded their English learning. The recordings were analyzed to determine how many English words and phrases each child spoke.

    The children who received the UW method showed rapid increases in English comprehension and production, and significantly outperformed the control group peers at all ages on all tests of English. By the end of the 18-week program, the children in the UW program produced an average of 74 English words or phrases per child, per hour; children in the control group produced 13 English words or phrases per child, per hour.

    Ferjan Ramirez said the findings show that even babies from monolingual homes can develop bilingual abilities at this early age.

    “With the right science-based approach that combines the features known to grow children’s language, it is possible to give very young children the opportunity to start learning a second language, with only one hour of play per day in an early education setting,” she said. “This has big implications for how we think about foreign-language learning.”

    Follow-up testing 18 weeks later showed the children had retained what they learned. The English gains were similar between children attending the two schools serving predominantly low-income neighborhoods and the two serving mid-income areas, suggesting that wealth was not a significant factor in the infants’ ability to learn a foreign language. Children’s native language (Spanish) continued to grow as they were learning English, and was not negatively affected by introducing a second language.

    “Science indicates that babies’ brains are the best learning machines ever created, and that infants’ learning is time-sensitive. Their brains will never be better at learning a second language than they are between 0 and 3 years of age,” said co-author Patricia Kuhl, co-director of I-LABS and a UW professor of speech and hearing sciences.

    The results, Kuhl said, have the potential to transform how early language instruction is approached in the United States and worldwide.

    “Parents in Madrid, in the United States and around the world are eager to provide their children with an opportunity to learn a foreign language early. The U.S. census shows that 27 percent of America’s children under the age of 6 are now learning a language other than English at home. While these children are fully capable of learning both their parents’ language and English, they often do not have adequate exposure to English prior to kindergarten entry and as a result, often lag behind their peers once they enter school,” she said.

    “I-LABS’ new work shows we can create an early bilingual learning environment for dual-language learners in an educational setting, and in one hour per day, infants can ignite the learning of a second language earlier and much easier than we previously thought. This is doable for everybody,” Kuhl said.


  8. Study looks at babies’ reactions to those who speak a different language

    August 1, 2017 by Ashley

    From the University of British Columbia press release:

    By the age of one, infants already prefer speakers of their native tongue, but do not necessarily view speakers of an unfamiliar language negatively, according to new UBC research. The findings suggest that, while positivity toward familiar groups may be innate, dislike for unfamiliar groups appears to be a learned behaviour.

    “Persistent discrimination and conflict across cultures has led psychologists to question whether we are naturally inclined to like people who are similar to ourselves and to dislike those who are different, or whether we are taught to feel this way,” said Anthea Pun, the study’s lead author and a graduate student in the UBC department of psychology. “These findings suggest both are true: liking people who are similar to ourselves seems to be an innate bias, but disliking those who are different is something we likely learn later.”

    Past research has found that, by the age of three, children show positive biases toward people who are similar to them and negative biases towards those who are different. In this study, the UBC researchers turned their attention to infants to determine when and how these biases first emerge.

    They conducted six experiments involving 456 infants between the ages of eight months and 16 months at Science World’s Living Lab located at TELUS World of Science in Vancouver. The experiments examined how quickly infants habituated to either familiar or unfamiliar language speakers performing prosocial (giving) behaviour or antisocial (taking) behaviour.

    Habituation measures infants’ rate of processing pictures and sounds presented to them. When the information is consistent with infants’ expectations, attention declines at a faster rate. By measuring infants’ rate of habituation, the researchers were able to independently measure whether infants had formed positive or negative evaluations of people speaking familiar and unfamiliar languages.

    Across all experiments, the researchers found that, by one year of age, infants not only think of speakers of their native language as good, but they also expect them to be prosocial. The infants appeared to be surprised when observing speakers of their native language engaging in antisocial behaviour. Infants of this age, however, do not appear to have any positive or negative expectations of speakers of an unfamiliar language, suggesting that negativity toward groups different from their own is likely learned after the first year of life, the researchers found.

    “This study provides critical insight into the origins of social group bias by allowing researchers to understand how positivity and negativity toward groups develops independently,” said Andrew Baron, the study’s senior author and associate professor in the UBC department of psychology.


  9. Daily movement program has positive impact on children’s learning

    July 29, 2017 by Ashley

    From the Loughborough University press release:

    Following a daily movement program can improve children’s physical development levels and has the potential to boost their chances in the classroom, researchers from Loughborough University have found.

    Academics from the University’s School of Sport, Exercise and Health Sciences have been working with two schools and more than 40 Foundation Stage children in a year-long study.

    They found that those who took part in a daily movement program for one academic year showed greater improvements in throwing/catching, balance and manual dexterity compared to those not taking part in the program.

    The participating children also improved their overall levels of physical development from the 32nd percentile to the 50th (an improvement of approximately 18 percentile points) bringing them back in line with scores for children of the same age established in 2007.

    A child’s physical development level impacts their ability to complete simple tasks such as sitting still, holding a pencil, putting on their shoes, and reading — all skills essential for school.

    Tests carried out by the team in 2016 found a larger number than previously estimated were starting school with lower than desirable levels of physical development, with almost 30% of children presenting with symptoms typically associated with dyslexia, developmental coordination disorder (dyspraxia), and ADHD.

    To try and redress this decline in pupils’ physical development Loughborough’s Dr Rebecca Duncombe and Professor Pat Preedy created ‘Movement for Learning’.

    The daily program gives children opportunities to move, improve fine and gross motor skills and inhibit primitive reflexes (baby reflexes that should no longer be present). Activities include throwing, catching, balancing, drawing large letters in the air, articulating sounds and skipping.

    To assess the effectiveness of the program the team recruited children from two schools, with some doing the daily Movement for Learning exercises and others not.

    “The results show a definite improvement for those children that took part in the Movement for Learning program,” explains Dr Duncombe. “We know that there is a link between physical development and achievement in the classroom so the findings of this research are especially important. We are hopeful that, as a result of this project, we will be able to help reverse the recent decline in physical readiness for school and for learning.”

    Professor Pat Preedy added: “Changes in our modern world mean that many children are moving less and are not developing the physical skills that they need for learning. It has been most rewarding to see how a short, daily program can help children to get back on track for learning.”

    Fifty other schools are currently following the Movement for Learning program and are due to provide feedback after the summer. The team plan to make the program freely available for all schools by 2018.


  10. Finding what’s right with children who grow up in high-stress environments

    July 25, 2017 by Ashley

    From the University of Utah press release:

    A new research article proposes that more attention be given to what’s right with children who grow up in high-stress environments so their unique strengths and abilities can be used to more effectively tailor education, jobs and interventions to fit them.

    Stress-adapted children and youth possess traits — such as heightened vigilance, attention shifting and empathic accuracy — that aren’t tapped in traditional learning and testing situations. In addition, these skills may actually allow at-risk children to perform better than their peers from low-risk backgrounds when faced with uncertainty and stress.

    Most research to date has focused on detrimental effects of growing up under stressful conditions and the deficits in cognitive development that can result, said Bruce J. Ellis, lead author.

    “We’re not arguing that’s wrong, but that it is only part of the picture,” said Ellis, a University of Utah psychology professor. “The other part is that children fine-tune their abilities to match the world that they grow up in, which can result in enhanced stress-adapted skills. We’re trying to challenge a world view and give consideration to an alternative adaptation-based approach to resilience.”

    The study “Beyond Risk and Protective Factors: An Adaptation-based Approach to Resilience” is forthcoming in the July issue of Perspectives on Psychological Science.

    Co-authors include JeanMarie Bianchi, University of Arizona; Vladas Griskevicius, University of Minnesota; and Willem E. Frankenhuis, Radboud University Nijmegen.

    The prevailing view is that children who experience high-stress environments are at risk for impairments in learning and behavior and that interventions are needed to prevent, reduce or repair the damage that has been done to them.

    These high-stress environments include neighborhood danger; exposure to environmental chemicals; bad housing conditions; neglectful and abusive parenting; low-quality childcare; and peer and school violence. Research has shown that the more stressors children are exposed to, the more their performances in traditional learning and testing situations is compromised.

    Most interventions are aimed at countering these deficits and getting “children and youth from high-risk backgrounds to act, think, and feel more like children and youth from low-risk backgrounds,” the authors say.

    In other words, the dominant approach assumes at-risk youth are somehow broken and need to be fixed.

    Virtually no research attention has been paid to what strengths and abilities youth possess as a result of growing up in high-risk environments, Ellis said.

    Although there is a rich body of literature examining adaptive responses in birds and rodents to stressful environments, the first theoretical work related to humans was published in 2013 by co-author Frankenhuis, followed by the first experiments in 2015 by co-author Griskevicius, Ellis said.

    That research showed repeated or chronic stress does not exclusively impair cognition and can improve forms of attention, perception, learning, memory and problem-solving.

    “Our argument is that stress does not so much impair development as direct or regulate it toward these strategies that are adaptive under stressful conditions,” Ellis said. “Stress-adapted children and youth may perform better on tasks that involve situations and relationships that are relevant to them, such as social dominance. They also may perform better in settings that do not attempt to minimize the reality of daily stressors and uncertainties.”

    These stress-adapted skills should be understood, appreciated and seen as building blocks for success, Ellis said. A first, essential step is that researchers catalog the strengths and abilities of people who grow up in high-stress environments and focus on how to leverage those abilities to enhance learning, intervention and developmental outcomes.