In the past month traumatic brain injuries have been getting a lot of media attention, from press coverage of the shooting of U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords to the recent American Idol episode where contestant Chris Medina shared a personal story of his fiancée’s struggle. Medina told “Idol” judges Jennifer Lopez, Steven Tyler and Randy Jackson that two months before their wedding, his fiancée was in a serious accident. She sustained serious brain damage, and was in a coma for a month and a half.
Mr. Medina told the judges that after she awoke, “Everything changed.” This is a phrase that all traumatic brain injury survivors and their families can relate to. His fiancée is not partially paralyzed and looks like a shadow of the person in the photographs from before the accident that were shown on the show.
TBIs occur when an external force traumatically injures the brain. BI can cause a host of physical, cognitive, emotional, and behavioral effects, and outcome can range from complete recovery to permanent disability. Because of the range of effects TBIs can be difficult to plan for and accommodate in the school setting. It is important that individuals with TBIs and their families work with the school to assure that supports are in place for students with TBIs to progress and receive a free and appropriate public education.
- Difficulty with logic, thinking and reasoning
- Slower to respond, react and complete activities and tasks
- Difficulty focusing attention
- Physical limitations
- Inappropriate social behaviors
- Difficulty remembering
- Frequently puzzled or challenged by grade level work
- Difficulty learning
- It is believe that TBI has a profound effect on new learning even though previous learning may remain in tact
- Never underestimate the potential for growth and development
- Some TBI children will have speech and language deficits
Given the recent high-profile examples of TBIs, there is reason to hope that the devastating effects of a traumatic brain injury will be more acknowledged. Moreveover, both schools and the public at large will have a greater understanding of the challenges, and willingness to provide both short-term and long-term supports and interventions to address the results of a traumatic brain injury. Here are some school-related interventions Download Traumatic Brain Injury-NASSP Dec 07 and from the NASET that has published an excellent roster of IEP accomodations, modifications and resources to assist the IEP team in addressing the acute and chronic effects of TBI.