Kenneth Ponds Named Vice President of Oneness and Special Advisor to the President

To further Starr Commonwealth’s commitment to equity, diversity, and inclusion, Kenneth Ponds has been named to the newly created position of vice president of oneness and special advisor to the president.

As an executive member of the cabinet and advisor, Ponds will provide expertise and guidance to the organization on topics and issues of equity, diversity, and inclusion in all forms, furthering Starr’s core belief in the oneness of humankind. He will assist Starr Commonwealth in efforts to achieve its mission and vision on an organizational level as well as in its offerings and services.
“For years, Starr has recognized that experiences of racism, toxic hierarchy, and oppression are experiences of individual, collective, and intergenerational trauma,” said Starr President & CEO Elizabeth Carey. “While we increased our efforts in this critical work, in the wake of recent social injustice and violence over the past few years, we knew we had to do more.

“From his professional experience to his heart and passion, I am confident Ken is the perfect person to spearhead our recommitment and guide the entire organization ever closer to achieving true oneness of humankind.”

Ponds previously served as campus chaplain for 40 years, and has since played a key role in Starr Commonwealth’s Glasswing Racial Healing program. Glasswing has been a cornerstone of Starr’s equity, diversity, and inclusion work since 1996, and has helped communities across North America “embrace the value of diversity with dignity.” Ponds will continue his contributions to Glasswing from an executive level as advisor, counselor, and mentor for staff.

“It’s an honor to have this wonderful opportunity to help Starr continue its journey of equity,” Ponds said. “This has always been a core belief for Starr, and along with the opportunity to help young people in their spiritual journey is what attracted me to Starr Commonwealth.

“This commitment to connection—with the ultimate goal of love that Floyd Starr envisioned over 100 years ago—is one that lives close to my heart. I am honored to help Starr and its partners continue to grow and making love visible in the lives of those we serve.”

Important Details for Virtual Conference Attendees

We are excited to have you join us for Starr’s first-ever virtual conference on July 20-22!

We appreciate your commitment to learning new, trauma-informed and resilience-focused tools and approaches to supporting the children, families, and communities you serve. These are difficult times. Please know that your support for the children you serve IS making a difference! Your presence at this 3-day event will equip you with new tools to enhance this support, and we hope you find both the content and experience empowering and educational.

  1. Go to https://learn.starr.org/.
  2. In the upper right-hand corner of the screen, enter your email address and password and select the green arrow button to log in. Forgot your password? Click here to reset it.
  3. Once logged in, click on your “Dashboard” then click on “2020 Trauma and Resilience Virtual Conference”.

How to prepare for the conference

To ensure an optimal experience, we recommend preparing the following prior to the first day of the conference:

  1. Access to a computer/laptop with a strong and consistent internet connection.
  2. Access to https://vimeo.com. Each session will be streamed at https://learn.starr.org using Vimeo’s streaming video platform. To test your access to Vimeo, you can sign up for a free course (Trauma-Informed Resilient Schools, Children of Trauma and Resilience) at https://starr.org/store/ and confirm you can see the course videos for the course at https://learn.starr.orgMore information on accessing your online content is available here.

IMPORTANT: The Starr team will be unable to troubleshoot any individual issues that arise regarding connectivity issues during the conference. If you have any questions or concerns prior to the conference, please contact info@starr.org.

In addition, please ensure you have a comfortable space to settle into and move around in throughout each day. Much like a traditional conference experience, we will be building in breaks between sessions, but alongside that, make sure you have:

  • Access to a quiet, interruption-free environment (or as quiet of an environment as possible – for those with kids and pets, we understand this is easier said than done!)
  • The ability to sit and stand (whatever is most comfortable for you!), while still seeing your computer or TV screen (if you have the ability to cast/project to it)
  • Healthy snacks and beverages on hand, to keep your energy up.

In fact, approach this like you are creating your own comfort corner, and we trust your virtual experience will be a great one!

ADHD? ODD? It Could Be Trauma

Symptoms and responses following trauma or during chronic exposure to stress can look like many other disorders. Two of the most common diagnoses in the school setting for children of all ages are Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD). It is very common for trauma to be mistaken as ADHD or ODD, even by the most well respected and experienced educators. The differential diagnosis isn’t easy, but it is helpful to understand how and why this common mistake is made.

The differential diagnoses between trauma, ADHD, and ODD present significant challenges. First, there are several overlapping symptoms of PTSD, ADHD, and ODD. The diagnoses are not mutually exclusive, and there are currently significant assessment limitations.

This reality is terrifying and convicting for many educators. Often, it is the classroom teacher who first suggests the idea that a child may have ADHD, and this suggestion typically results from the child not “fitting into the box” of behavior expected of students in traditional learning environments. Uninformed educators, social workers, parents, and even medical professionals can quickly turn this suggestion into a misdiagnosis if they are not asking the right questions. In the end, a child who has experienced trauma and needs therapy may instead receive medication to treat a condition they do not have.

FOCUSED FOLLOW-THROUGH

When children present salient symptoms that PTSD and ADHD share, begin to ask yourself: “Is it PTSD or ADHD? Both?” Unfortunately, this question is not an easy one to answer.

FOCUS FURTHER

Learn more about overlapping symptomology in the eLearning course Trauma-Informed, Resilience-Focused Assessment and Differential Diagnosis:

To learn more about overlapping symptomology, or to make better decisions when diagnosing mental and behavioral health disorders, consider these offerings from Starr Commonwealth.

Understanding Private Logic and Behavior

Imagine an eleven-year-old student who, their entire life, has experienced that when adults in their home yell, someone gets hit or hurt. And then this student is in your classroom and you, in a well-intentioned and benign manner, raise your voice to get the attention of the class. When this happens, he is immediately triggered based on his past experiences. And then his best friend sitting next to him pokes him in the shoulder. The student reacts, possibly hitting his best friend. On the surface this looks like an irrational, unstable, and aggressive behavior. But underneath, based on the what is called the student’s private logic, there is some level of rationality to what has occurred, but his body is still scared. We have to be curious rather than certain when observing behavior that seems to not make sense on the outside.

There is a distinct link between a student’s private logic and their behavior. Private logic can be described as how a person views themselves, others, and the world around them. Private logic is created as a result of experiences. Based on that logic, they act accordingly. Think of private logic as an invisible backpack. In the backpack, a student carries around beliefs about themselves, beliefs about the adults that take care of them, and lastly, beliefs about other people they interact with in their lives and beliefs about the world. This logic is a result of experiences – both good and bad – over the course of development and life. If their lives have been filled with fear, abandonment, and anger, their private logic will be consistent with those experiences. They will view themselves as scared and powerless, others will not be trusted, and the world to them is seen as a scary place. If their lives have been filled with comfort, connection, and love, their logic will be consistent with those experiences. They will view themselves as capable and valued. They will see others as consistent and approachable, and will view the world as filled with opportunities of goodness and hope.

FOCUSED FOLLOW-THROUGH

So, the next time a child you work with makes a comment about themselves or others, or acts in a particular way—either positive or negative, remain curious! Based on what I just witnessed:

“How might this child view themself? How might this child view others? How might this child view the world?” Then, approach your care with their world-view in mind!

FOCUS FURTHER

Learn more about Private Logic in
the eLearning course Children of Trauma & Resilience:

To learn more about private logic, or to incorporate private logic-focused resources into your profession, consider these offerings
from Starr Commonwealth.

Trauma in Disguise: Introducing Trauma-Informed, Resilience-Focused Assessment and Differential Diagnosis

Trauma-Informed, Resilience-Focused Assessment and Differential Diagnosis is available now. Below, Dr. Cae Soma explains the origins of this course.

How can one benefit from taking Trauma-Informed, Resilience-Focused Assessment and Differential Diagnosis (TIRFADD)?

TIRFADD begins to explain to professionals how and why mental health disorder symptoms and reactions we see can be misinterpreted. We call this “trauma in disguise”, and make critical connections through symptoms and reactions displayed by the child. These behaviors look and sound like other mental health disorders. What TIRFADD teaches is centered around an overlap in symptomology. In addition, it’s not enough to say there’s an overlap—we need to know why this overlap exists. So, TIRFADD explains how the manifestation of trauma in the body, overtime, often appears as other disorders

What’s most fascinating, and an issue we dive deeply into in the course, is that the onset ages of mental health disorders follow the exact course of what’s happening in the body for those experiencing trauma:

 

More and more research has been done about how trauma looks like every other mental health disorder. It starts with anxiety disorders and moves up into behavior disorders, mood disorders, and at the high school level we begin to see all of the at-risk coping skills (substance abuse, gang involvement, self-harm). We have known for a long time, at the clinical level, that these kids don’t have true ADHD. It then shifted to educators, where well-intentioned teachers refer parents to ADHD screenings.

Doctors have not been trained in either med school or residency about the overlapping symptoms of mental health disorders and trauma. So, of course, a well-intentioned physician is trained to diagnose mental health disorders. That child may fit the criteria of a mental health disorder, but physicians are not approaching with a trauma-informed lens. When this occurs, either the symptoms and behaviors get worse, or things don’t get better. When things do get better, it’s because there is a true ADHD. Unfortunately, usually that does not happen—usually things get worse.

This course was created for any practitioner, or parent for that matter, who has found themselves in this difficult situation.

How did the overlap between trauma and ADHD symptomology, and subsequently the need for this course, come to be?

Beginning in 2005, there has been a proposal for the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (https://www.psychiatry.org/psychiatrists/practice/dsm - American Psychiatric Association) to include a new diagnosis known as Developmental Trauma Disorder. Starr has been teaching about it, and support the proposal of that diagnosis. Put simply, it explains how a child grows and develops within the context of toxic stress and trauma, of course they’ll have these symptoms like ADHD, etc. This was the first place where our attention was caught with overlapping symptomology. They put into words what we had experienced with children. Unfortunately, it has yet to be adopted for the DSM. We teach about DTD because it would be a tremendous diagnosis. As opposed to PTSD, DTD would explain that symptoms and reactions have been compounded over a lifetime, not based on a single event. For now, and with the help of TIRFADD, physicians can use whatever diagnosis they may need to get the best service for kids, but with the understanding that what’s driving that diagnosis is probably trauma. In this course, we’re going to give you as much information as we can to be as aware as possible about the overlapping symptomology. It’s a difficult subject, as it’s not black and white. We can’t just follow the symptom and reaction – most likely you’ll get what you’re looking for.

We must remain curious and explore the possibility of what role underlying trauma may be playing in our children’s behavior.

Trauma and Resilience Summit Panel and Film Viewing

As part of the Summit experience, Starr is excited to announce that a panel of experts will be assembled to provide their first-hand experience in healing trauma and building resilience in clinical, educational, and residential settings.

A special introduction will be given by Starr Commonwealth President & CEO Elizabeth Carey, where she will share her perspective on the intersection of human services, healthcare, and education, in addition to the many opportunities for future partnership to continue to empower professionals,  heal trauma, and build resilience in all children – so all can flourish.

Meet the Panelists

Following our expert panel, we will be showing the film Resilience: the Biology of Stress and the Science of Hope, with a Q&A with Starr Director of Professional Training & Coaching Kathy Hart.

This event is free and open to the public. We encourage all attendees to invite their colleagues to this important forum. If you know someone who is driven to heal, refer them to our RSVP page, and you'll receive a coupon code for 20% any eLearning product on our store when they attend.

Register for the full summit