Children and Adolescents

When Schools Are Accused Of Abuse….

Friday, May 6th, 2016

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Over the past year, two schools in Western Massachusetts have been accused of abusing their emotionally and psychologically disabled students. The Eagleton School in Great Barrington was ordered shut down and sixteen employees now face criminal charges. Prior to that, the Peck School in Holyoke was also the subject of a scathing report. Which leads us to wonder — how can this happen, and what can be done? [Aired on New England Public Radio, May 4, 2016]

Life After Stress: The Biology of Trauma and Resilience

Wednesday, December 3rd, 2014

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After September 11th, social scientists really began to focus on the psychological impact

Photo by Mike Carroll for Harvard University.

of trauma, and the power of resilience. But long before that horrible event, and certainly since, there have been brutal wars, natural disasters, mass shootings, and bombings — not to mention the chronic stress of poverty, illness, or domestic abuse.

An emerging field of science is looking at ways trauma of all sorts gets embedded in the body and brain, and who weathers it best. Stay with us for the half-hour documentary — “Life After Stress: The Biology of Trauma and Resilience.”

First broadcast on New England Public Radio, November 13, 2014. Edited by Sam Hudzik. Original Music by John Townsend. Funding contributed by the Falcon Fund and the Knight Fellowship in Science Journalism at MIT.

To download audio, right-click here

Full transcript available at NEPR.net

For companion print article I wrote for NOVA Next (PBS Online), “What Makes a Resilient Mind,” click here.

 

Toning It Down for ‘Sensory-Friendly’ Mall Shopping

Friday, August 29th, 2014

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Hope Tremblay (left) and Sarah Hunter at the Holyoke Mall

One in 68 children are thought to have autism spectrum disorder, according to the Centers for Disease Control. The disorder varies widely in severity. But one common trait is the tendency to get overstimulated by noise, lights, and other trappings of modern life. New England Public Radio’s Karen Brown reports on one recent effort to bring down the sensory stimulation — just in time for back-to-school shopping.

El Junque Tropical Forest – Bringing Puerto Rico (and Tranquility) to a Holyoke Middle School

Saturday, April 26th, 2014

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In Holyoke, Massachusetts, a middle school classroom doubles as a replica of a rainforest – the kind you’d find in Puerto Rico. Island expats have been coming to Holyoke for decades. And for the youngest newcomers, this classroom is the closest they can get their ancestral home. New England Public Radio’s Karen Brown reports.

 

 

[This story also aired on NPR's Latino USA, April 25, 2014. To listen, click  here]

Motherlode: Whose Anxiety Is It Anyway?

Friday, March 21st, 2014

What does a parent — who happens to be a mental health reporter — do when she’s concerned about her son? Dives headfirst into the D.S.M., of course. He could have Social Anxiety Disorder. Or maybe Social Phobia. Perhaps Generalized Anxiety Disorder? Or he could just be shy.

Read my personal essay in the New York Times’ Motherlode blog here

Taking a Shot at Childhood Vaccines – A Rise in Refusals Worries Medical Community

Friday, November 15th, 2013

[Boston Globe Health-Section Cover Story, November 11, 2013]

by Karen D. Brown

by Matthew Cavanaugh, Boston Globe

Ever since a British doctor published a study in 1998 suggesting that some vaccines may contribute to autism, the number of parents refusing vaccines for their children, or demanding an “alternative’’ immunization schedule, has steadily grown.

And even though that paper has since been discredited, and scores of peer-reviewed studies have failed to find any link between vaccines and autism, the suspicion that vaccines are dangerous has stuck.

“I never really liked how many vaccinations a baby was getting,” said Anna Popp, an Easthampton librarian who allowed her 5-year-old daughter to get some of the recommended vaccines, but not all, and delayed other vaccinations beyond the age that doctors say is safe. “I just felt, if I could put some of those off until later, I would rather not overburden my child’s system with a bunch of toxic organisms.”

Popp knows that following her own rules on immunization puts her — and many other vaccine skeptics — at odds with the medical establishment. Popp lives in Western Massachusetts, where the percentage of parents choosing not to vaccinate their children is well above the state average….

To read full story in Boston Globe, click here

To hear companion radio story on NPR’s Here and Now, click here