Trauma-Informed Care in Schools

Trauma has an effect on language learning and development. In fact, significant trauma can even impact our ability to audibly speak. As part of comprehensive care, it's vital that planning and services are informed by research and best practices related to trauma.

While every child is affected differently, complex trauma events can affect the communication abilities of some children. This is especially true for the parts of our minds that are involved in a stress response to trauma, including such linguistically affected areas as bodily regulation, idea organization, narrative creation, mental flexibility, and behavior inhibition.

Recent research shows that children with a history of trauma are at a higher risk for language concerns than their peers. Research finds that children with a trauma history can pass the CELF-5 (Clinical Evaluation of Language Fundamentals); however, these groups were also less likely to know and use as many words as their peers, especially mental (ex. think) or body state (ex. tired) words. Other research pointed to deficits in narrative perspective-taking, sequencing, and recall.

Speech and language clinicians are often on the front lines to identify children at risk for complex trauma. Because we often will not know if someone on our caseloads has experienced trauma, it's crucial to adopt trauma-informed practices overall.

The U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) defines trauma-informed practices in this way: practices "based on the knowledge and understanding of trauma and its far-reaching implications." SAMHSA also delineates four principles of trauma-informed care:

  1. Realizing the impact of trauma
  2. Recognizing the signs of trauma
  3. Responding by integrating knowledge about trauma into procedures and practices
  4. Resisting re-traumatization of the person and/or family with whom you are working.

Many of the components of trauma-informed care involves continuing education about trauma and its effects, as well as best practices for response. Reach out to a Sidekick therapist today if you have questions or concerns.


A Pandemic's Pain: The Need for Trauma-Informed Services for Children (

Childhood Maltreatment Consequences on Social Pragmatic Communication: A Systematic Review of the Literature | Perspectives of the ASHA Special Interest Groups