By Ashika Sethi
Every child deserves a sense of stability in a tumultuous environment. For Leila, a 7-year-old child who had experienced trauma growing up, stability was imperative.
Leila had trouble completing small tasks on a daily basis and frequently threw fits when she didn’t feel in control of her situation. She was placed in a rigid foster home, where healthy touch (like high fives and a pat on the back) and tender care wasn’t the norm. After realizing Leila’s situation, the CASA volunteer on Leila’s case was advised to attend one of CASA’s Trust-Based Relational Intervention (TBRI) training sessions and learned how to interact with Leila to help her feel more comfortable. From the training, the volunteer began to implement tactics to help Leila such as planning out her daily schedule when they would meet, and positive talk when Leila had accidents. CASA worked with the foster placement to help them become more trauma-informed and advocated for a trauma-informed therapist as well. These interventions helped Leila tremendously with coping with her surroundings.
According to the late Dr. Karyn Purvis, who created these therapeutic methods, Trust-Based Relational Intervention is an “attachment-based, trauma-informed intervention that is designed to meet the complex needs of vulnerable children.”
A child who has experienced trauma can express behaviors that may seem perplexing. Many children who have experienced trauma have come to depend on unconventional coping mechanisms from their pasts in order to get their most basic needs met. Even when a child is in a safe environment where they can have all of their basic needs easily met, these previously successful coping mechanisms can still manifest in a multitude of scenarios.
For many of the children we serve, the comfort of being able to visualize their weekly schedules instills a sense of assurance and lowers anxiety. By giving a child an interactive weekly or monthly calendar, they are able to feel more aware of and in control of their lives.
Here’s a simple tutorial on how to make an interactive calendar*:
Trauma-Informed Advocacy: How to Make a Customizable Calendar
You Will Need:
- Poster board (20” x 30” or above)
- Large piece of felt
- 8-10 pieces of 8.5” x 11” of felt in a range of colors
- Velcro (hook-side only)
- Cutout cardstock papers (typically found in the teachers’ section of craft stores)
- Personalized decorative items
- Sharpies or markers
- Hot glue gun
- Measure and cut felt to the size of your poster board. This will act as the calendar’s base.
- Glue base felt to the poster board with a hot glue gun.
- Measure and cut felt to the size of your poster board. This will act as the calendar’s base. Glue base felt to the poster board with a hot glue gun.
- Glue all individual felt pieces down with a hot glue gun.
- Print name, weekdays, months, and goals and cut to size.
- To make the month pieces interchangeable and less flimsy, cut and paste cardstock to the backs of the printed month cutouts.
- Glue the hook-side velcro to backs of month pieces with hot glue gun.
- Customize the premade cardstock cutouts with activities that apply to your CASA kid. Be sure to include some blank cards.
- While activities vary from child to child, some common activities are: therapy/play therapy, speech therapy, occupational therapy, physical therapy, visit with mom/dad, sibling visit, CASA visit, doctor/dentist appointment, court hearing, after school activity (music lesson, martial arts, sports, etc.)
- Glue velcro to the backs of activity cards.
- Take one 8 x 11 inch piece of felt, placed vertically, and fold in half. Glue 11-inch sides together, forming a small bag. Glue the top half of the back of the bag on the lower right side of the calendar and place activity cards/month cards inside.
- Customize calendar based on the child's interests and hobbies.
*This calendar was made for a young child not of school age. Calendars can be made more detailed for older children who have more activities by adding time blocks to the left side of the weekday day boxes and by making the activity cards smaller to accommodate.
Continuing Education 2017 September