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You Sent Me Paperwork… Now What Am I Supposed to do With It?

Brain Injury Blog 

You Sent Me Paperwork… Now What Am I Supposed to do With It? 

by Amanda Nachman

I was a schoolteacher who had an accident on a field trip two years ago. I suffered a mild traumatic brain injury.  As a result, I have been faced with some challenges, which used to be my strengths, such as organization, sequencing, math skills, attention, and fatigue.  Just to name a few.  As I been on my journey, I have learned that I am not alone in my challenges.  In fact, these are very common challenges that my fellow MTBIer’s face.  What I cannot figure out is that if this information is out there, why is it that I continue to receive so much paperwork to fill out?  Why is it, that despite having these challenges with my disability, I am continually asked to fill out forms to receive services to help me with my challenges.  It doesn’t make sense to me.

If… then Why? 

If a person has short-term, and/or partial long-term memory loss, why would you ask them to recall all of the events since the time of the accident?   If one has difficulty with memory and sequencing, why would you ask them to put all of their hundreds of medical visits in order, with details of the visits?  If a person has lost their ability to calculate and sequence numbers, why would you ask them to add up all of their days paid, all of their days missed, multiply, then subtract and come up with accurate figures? The answer is, that you would not make these kind of requests, but it keeps on happening. I was not without the skills to complete these tasks prior to my accident, but I am now.

Teaching Teaching Skills 

I have to draw on my past teaching skills knowing that I would never expect one of my students to perform a test on something they do not know, something they have not practiced, something I have not taught them.  What I want to know is how do I teach these teaching skills to the larger community so that people in my situation are not set up to fail?  What I thought used to be just common sense, I have learned is not an innate skill, but a learned skill. Employees in the service industries set up to help people, need to learn how how to communicate with people with disabilities, how to guide or assist people with disabilities, and how to make sure there are services in place for people with disabilities.

Understanding and Compassion 

I know there are resources out there for people who have suffered brain injuries.  However, if you have a tbi, you don’t always know who to turn to.  If you are in the legal or medical field, or with a government agency, we have become numbers to you, rather than real people with real challenges.  We don’t always understand directions or how to fill out the paperwork you have sent us in the mail, or given us in the waiting room.  All I ask is for some understanding and compassion, to use the teaching skills of a good teacher, and help your “student” succeed in order to have the best outcome for his/her journey.

Fixing the System 

When something you have is broken you fix it if it is important to you.  I see a system that is broken, and I am taking one step at a time to try and fix it.  How?  First of all by getting my story out there.  I have begun to share my story through my book Who Am I Again?, I’m speaking to groups of people about my story, and finally, I’m going to my legislators to share my story and ask them to begin to fix the broken system.

February 28, 2013