Video: Radically improving someone’s life: the emotional health of the babies

Babies – like all humans – can have good mental health, poor mental health or anything in between.

The first 1000 days of a child’s life is crucial to their mental health later in life. All babies need to feel safe and looked after – it’s what sets up their expectations of what a loving relationship feels like.

If the baby is not fed when they are hungry, held when distressed or spoken to regularly, they quickly learn to expect not to be looked after.

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Sensory strategies for calming the body and mind

Berry Street’s Take Two program has recently had an article published on the CFCA information exchange on the Australian Institute of Family Studies (AIFS) website.

The article explains how and why children who have experienced trauma may find it more difficult to regulate their emotions and behaviours than other children.

Practice Development and Training Team Leader Clare Ryan explains how Take Two uses the Regulate–Relate–Reason framework in its clinical work to assist children to calm their bodies and emotions. The framework is a core element of the Neurosequential Model of Therapeutics (NMT) approach developed by Dr Bruce Perry in the United States.

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Free Social Story: Getting tested for COVID

Getting tested for COVID is uncomfortable. The nurse or doctor needs to swab the back of the throat and mouth.

Being prepared for the procedure will help children cope better and feel less anxious.

Berry Street’s Take Two Developmental Specialists Team have developed a free printable social story that explains in familiar terms, what will happen and why the test is needed.

Take Two invites carers or parents (especially those looking after children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) or other developmental differences including a trauma history) to share the social story with their child to make a COVID test more manageable.

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Video: How every caregiver can create healing moments at home every day

Counselling or psychotherapy sessions ─ with the active involvement of carers ─ can be extremely helpful for babies, children and young people who have experienced neglect or abuse.

However, for a child to learn to trust that adults will look after them, those sessions need to be reinforced. Small, easy-to-do, repeated and regular moments can be created in everyday activities to remind the child that their caregiver genuinely cares about them and will look after them.

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Video: How regulating bodies helps calm minds

These are challenging times. For some households, the changes COVID-19 is requiring are a struggle. Many families are spending much more time together. Tensions are probably high for lots of adults and children – both will be anxious as they navigate this new way of life.

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Childhood communications delays – a pilot project

How many babies who experience serious hardships in their first year of life have delayed communication skills?

The Berry Street Take Two team based in Bendigo in the Loddon region of Victoria were worried about this. They welcomed a speech pathologist to work with them for more than a year, as part of Take Two’s Communication Project to help understand the scale of the problem.

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Considerations for supporting children, carers & families during remote contact visits

In these uncertain times, it’s understandable that carers may be feeling elevated concerns about how to manage the changing expectations of contact with family members. As a therapeutic service, Take Two offers this guidance in managing the heightened emotions and thoughts of children in the out-of-home care (OOHC) system in these times. We also provide a list of some free video calling apps and programs that might be suitable to use.

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Parents and carers: be kind to yourself

This an unpredictable and uncertain time for everyone. With schools closing many parents and carers are wondering how they are going to cope for long periods at home with the children and young people in their care.

It’s the same as what they tell you on planes. You need to put on your own oxygen mask before you can help others. It’s a huge struggle to care for children if we neglect to look after ourselves. While you may think: ‘easier said than done’ – it really does make a difference.

Here are 4 steps you can follow to help you be kind to yourself.

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Creating a soothing new household rhythm in uncertain times

Predictable activities, rhythms and routines make children and young people feel more secure, safer and cared for. With a little bit of planned structure, children are less likely to feel caught unawares. They will know what to expect.

This is especially important for children in out-of-home care who may be more likely to feel that the world is an unsafe place.

In the current COVID-19 situation with no school and big changes to their daily lives, many children, carers and families are struggling to find a new and reassuring rhythm to their days.

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Caring for children in out-of-home care during the COVID-19 outbreak

Communities around the world are feeling the impacts of COVID-19. And for anyone who has suffered trauma or lives with anxiety normally, it’s an even more difficult time.

For families with children – especially children who are in out-of-home care – spending weeks at home without any school or other group activities will likely be pretty tough at times.

Over the coming weeks, Berry Street’s Take Two service will be providing resources to help families with children who have experienced developmental trauma to support and manage their wellbeing.

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International delegation visits Take Two

By Allison Cox, Director, Berry Street – Take Two

A group of our international colleagues recently came from Norway to spend time with Berry Street’s Take Two service.

The RVTS Sør (South) service is a Norwegian government-funded domestic violence, sexual abuse, traumatic stress, migrant/refugee health and suicide prevention resource centre and training service. They have a special focus on working with children and families.

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Playing to her strengths

Not much is known about Elle’s* first year. Her Mum has severe mental health problems and has lots of problems with drugs and drinking.

Elle was removed by Child Protection services from her mother around the time she turned one.

Her father immigrated from Asia. Growing up we suspect he experienced significant trauma during the long civil war in his country. Elle’s father didn’t know about Elle until after she was removed and placed into foster care. When he found out, she went to live with him together with his new partner Trisha.

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