Doctor’s Notes: At this Preschool for Traumatized Kids, Emotional Care Comes First, Then Academics

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“Therapeutic preschool uses the neuro-sequential model,” said Jesus Parra, the regional director for clinical services for Children’s Institute. This approach provides a framework for helping a child, keeping in mind his or her trauma history, developmental stage and current ability to function.

Reggie, now 5, was exposed to methamphetamines in utero and, after he was born, his biological mother wasn’t able to care for him. When he was 4-weeks-old, I was his doctor in the foster-care clinic at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center. He was adopted by one of my pediatric colleagues, Amy Huang, and her husband, Daniel. Because Reggie is a minor, his and his parents’ names have been changed.

“He was the best baby, no withdrawals, no terrible twos,” Amy Huang said. “We thought he had escaped the meth-effects.”

But, unfortunately, that wasn’t the case.