The difference between chronic, toxic and regular stress

Clinical neuropsychologist Jerry Schultz, PhD discusses the true differences between chronic, toxic and regular stress as they manifest in the children, especially those with learning disabilities.
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The difference between chronic, toxic and regular stress

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When I talk about stress, I talk about good stress, which is the kind of stress that gets us ready to face some challenge. It gets our bodies ready, it gets our minds ready, so that we can do something and we can feel successful and competent. On the other hand, bad or toxic stress is the kind of stress that's too big for us to handle. It overwhelms us. We freeze. We stop doing things because we don't know what to do. So kids with learning disabilities who are sitting in a public school classroom day after day after day have the feeling or the attitude that they can't do well in this environment are under what I consider to be a chronic stress situation. Their brains are always on high alert. They're always looking for the door. They're always looking for some way to get out of a situation. And the reason this is so important is because if you're under chronic stress your brain changes. Your brain becomes less efficient. When we get under stress, the part of our brain that's responsible for getting us out of tough situations goes into high alert. The center of our brain, the mid brain, the old part of our brain, the brain that got our ancestors out of the way of a saber tooth tiger. When that happens, the new part of our brain, the neo-cortex, the front of the brain, that part of the brain that makes us able to think systematically and efficiently about what we're going to do gets shut down in the service of survival. So think about it for a minute, you've got kids sitting there every day worried about what's going to come next, which saber tooth tiger is going to come in which door. And their brains start to get into a fear mode. And their cognitive functions, their executive function skills, the very things they need to be successful, shut down. Goes to sleep. That's a problem.

Clinical neuropsychologist Jerry Schultz, PhD discusses the true differences between chronic, toxic and regular stress as they manifest in the children, especially those with learning disabilities.

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Jerome Schultz, PhD

Clinical Neuropsychologist

Dr. Jerome (Jerry) Schultz is a former middle school special education teacher. He is currently in private practice as a clinical neuropsychologist and is on the faculty of Harvard Medical School in the Department of Psychiatry.  For over three decades, he has specialized in the neuropsychological assessment and treatment of children with learning disabilities, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and other special needs. He was on the faculty of Lesley University in Cambridge MA for almost 30 years, and served there as the Founding Director of a diagnostic clinic called the Learning Lab. Before returning to private practice, Dr. Schultz served as the Co-Director of the Center for Child and Adolescent Development at the Cambridge Health Alliance, a Harvard Teaching Hospital.

Dr. Schultz received both his undergraduate and Master’s degree from The Ohio State University and holds a Ph.D. from Boston College. He has completed postdoctoral fellowships in both clinical psychology and pediatric neuropsychology. He currently serves on the Editorial Board of a journal called Academic Psychiatry, and is on the Professional Advisory Boards of a website called Inside ADHD.com, and the Learning Disabilities Association of America.

In addition to his clinical and educational work, Dr. Schultz serves as an international consultant on issues related to the neuropsychology and appropriate education of children and young adults with ADHD & LD and other special needs. In his current role as neuropsychological consultant to several large school districts in the Boston area, he is on the ground, in schools and working with kids and their teachers several days each week.

Dr. Schultz created an award-winning video called “Einstein and Me” about living successfully with a learning disability, and has written extensively about children with learning, behavioral and emotional challenges. He has a special education and psychology blog on the Huffington Post. His book, called Nowhere to Hide: Why Kids with ADHD and LD Hate School and What We Can Do About It, (Jossey-Bass/Wiley) which examines the role of stress in learning, has received international acclaim.

 

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