From the Outside In: Using a Whole-School Paradigm to Improve the Educational Success of Students with Trauma Histories and/or Neurodevelopmental Disabilities

  • Michael GregoryEmail author
  • Emily Nichols


In this chapter, we describe the critical role that safe and supportive school cultures play in the educational success of students impacted by trauma and students with neurodevelopmental disabilities. Centering on the stories of several real students and their families, the chapter explains how individual supports and services schools provide to these students, typically through the special education system—while an essential ingredient for supporting their progress—often fail to achieve desired results when not delivered in the context of a supportive school environment. Based on the experiences of these students, as well as important insights from research, we will argue for an educational approach that shifts perspective—that moves from the outside in—by first paying close attention to the educational context that surrounds students and then analyzing carefully the individualized services each particular student needs to succeed within that broader context. We will describe a process that the Trauma and Learning Policy Initiative (TLPI) has developed for helping educators create safe and supportive, trauma-sensitive school cultures and will argue that this process can also support the creation of inclusive school cultures that research suggests are critical for students with neurodevelopmental disabilities. The chapter concludes with implications for policy.


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Harvard Graduate School of EducationCambridgeUSA
  2. 2.Medstar Georgetown Center for Wellbeing in School Environments (WISE Center), Child and Adolescent Program, Department of PsychiatryMedstar Georgetown University HospitalWashington, DCUSA

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