How Has the Brain Injury Affected Your Child?
By Marilyn Lash, M.S.W.
Lash & Associates Publishing/Training, Inc
What does the term assessment mean after a brain injury?
Assessment asks the fundamental question of all parents after their child is injured, “How has this brain injury affected my child?” While clinicians and therapists may conduct formal testing, examinations and consultations to answer this question, assessment is a skill that need not be limited to doctors, case managers, therapists or educators. Parents are also capable of “assessing” their child. Rather than thinking of this in the formal jargon of assessment, consider it as a description of your child’s history, strengths and challenges. No one will ever know a child better than parents – both before and after the injury.
How can I help others understand the effects of my child’s brain injury?
Rather than feeling like an outsider, parents can and should play a central role in any discussion about their child. They have unique experience and perspective. The ability to quickly and accurately describe their child is a skill that parents can use repeatedly whether they are meeting with the neurologist, speech and language pathologist, neuropsychologist or special education coordinator. Think of it as putting together a verbal snapshot of your child. Ask yourself, “What are the most important things for this person to know about my child?”
What information should I provide about my child’s brain injury?
It is easier to organize your information if you do this in three steps. The first step is figuring out what information is needed. This depends on who you are talking with but there are some fundamentals or basics that everyone needs to know including:
- Current age of child
- Length of coma
- Age when injured
- Medical and rehabilitation treatment
- Cause of injury
- Current grade in school
- Severity of brain injury
- Changes seen at home
- Changes seen at school
The second step is to describe your child’s abilities and needs. When thinking about this, consider…
- Comparison of abilities before and after the injury
- Changes seen over time
- Changes in behavior at home
- Talking with your child
- Your child’s strongest abilities
- Your child’s major difficulties
The third step is to advocate and negotiate for the help and services that are needed for your child.
- Keep track of grades at school
- Talk with teachers, therapists and specialists
- Review educational plans, medical and rehabilitation reports
- Set up a 3 ring binder notebook to organize reports and information
- Summarize what help or services is your child receiving now
- Consider how effective current help or services are
- Identify what other help is needed
- Explain why additional help or services are needed.
By using these skills, families can have a more active role in working with educators and therapists to understand the needs of their child and to develop programs and services that will help their child.
For more information, see:
By Marilyn Lash, M.S.W.
Information and tips for families on adapting professional case management skills and applying them to managing care and services for a brain injury survivor at home and in the community.
By Marilyn Lash, M.S.W. and Bob Cluett
Workbook for parents of children and youth with acquired brain injury shows how to work more effectively as partners with educators by applying 6 essential skills used by professional case managers. Included with the manual is a CD with over 60 pages of printable worksheets.