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A traumatic or acquired brain injury can affect a student’s ability to learn and function in school and the classroom. Identifying the special needs of a student with a brain injury is the first step to providing support and accommodations in the classroom and at home. These blog articles discuss the effects of brain injury on learning in school for children and adolescents.

TBI Affects Student Executive Skills by Teresa Sacchi Armstrong, M.A.

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Students with brain injury or TBI often struggle with executive skills in the classroom. Because these high-level cognitive functions cue other mental functions, they are critical for children’s thinking and learning in school. But challenges in executive skills do not automatically qualify a student for special education. Careful assessment of strengths and deficits along with careful lesson planning, follow-up and support by teachers are critical for students with acquired brain injuries to function and succeed in the classroom as well as with homework at home.

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Returning to School after Brain Injury

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I was finally able to return to school part time in January, but with much apprehension. I had just started to put the days of the week and the months of the year in order and I was working on being able to walk better in a straight line and stand still without having to grab onto something.

I was still extremely symptomatic, and did not feel well at all, and consequently, I was unable to be my old self. One really cannot understand the frustration of this until they experience it first hand. I am usually a very energetic and upbeat person, but now my personality was completely flat and emotionless. I simply could not be “present” in any situation. I had damaged my brain and had been isolated from the world for three months. I was nothing but nerves and I was feeling self-conscious. Social situations of any kind were stressful. I could feel myself wanting to socialize and be with my friends, and take part in things, but physically, I was in such pain and completely exhausted, that I just could not do it. I could hardly follow a conversation and many people talking at once were a real bother to my head.

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In-School Strategies Can Help with Students with Memory after TBI

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Many students with traumatic brain injury or TBI have cognitive deficits, but memory can be especially challenging. Dr. Katherine Kimes explains the importance of matching the student’s learning style with cognitive strategies to help and support the student in the classroom. She provides a detailed list of educational strategies that teachers can use to help the child or adolescent who has challenges with memory and comprehension due to a brain injury.

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Helping Students in School with Attention after Traumatic Brain Injury or TBI

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Students with traumatic and other acquired brain injuries often have such difficulty with attention that it affects their ability to pay attention in class, study effectively, do homework and succeed in school. Katherine Kimes provides educational tips and strategies that teachers can use in the classroom to help improve a student’s attention and performance. These practical suggestions for students with brain injury (TBI) can be used by all educational staff as well as parents.

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Managing Behavior in Children after Brain Injury or TBI

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Managing the behavior of students with traumatic brain injury can be challenging and frustrating for teachers, therapists and parents. Katherine Kimes explains four types of behavior management strategies that can be used in rehabilitation as well as at home and in school. By understanding how to identify changes in behaviors that are related to the brain injury or TBI and then measuring those behaviors, educators and therapists can develop and implement a plan to encourage positive adaptive behaviors and to decrease “problem” behaviors in children and adolescents.

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Behavioral Changes in Children and Adolescents with Brain Injury

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Changes in a child or adolescent’s behavior after a brain injury can be upsetting for parents and frustrating for teachers at school. A brain injury can cause behavioral, emotional and psychosocial problems, issues that were not once there for the student. Katherine Kimes describes what these changes in behavior may look like in the classroom. She discusses the complex interaction between damage to the youth’s brain, reactions by the student, and the child’s pre-existing abilities.

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Executive Function Deficits in Children and Youth with Brain Injury

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A brain injury can affect executive functions in children – but what does this mean? Katherine Kimes explains that the frontal lobes of the brain are responsible for high level cognitive functions – commonly called executive skills. These skills include planning, information processing, memory, judgment, initiation, abstraction, emotional regulation, inattentiveness, and self-awareness. When these skills are affected in youth, students can have new challenges in school, at home and with peers. It’s important for educators and parents to recognize that an earlier brain injury can have a direct impact on that child’s ability to learn and function in the classroom.

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Students with Traumatic Brain Injury

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Traumatic brain injury is the leading cause of disability among children and youth. Students returning to school with traumatic brain injuries may have an entire range of physical, cognitive, behavioral, social and emotional challenges. Exposure to education can aid in the recovery of these functions. Much as schools promote learning, recovery is a re-learning process, so it is important for educators in the school system to provide support and services.

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Cognitive Rehabilitation for Children and Youth with Brain Injury

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Cognitive rehabilitation for children and youth with brain injuries (tbi) must address the developmental impact of brain trauma as the child matures. Children with traumatic brain injuries have unique needs for treatment and cognitive rehabilitation that are different from adults with brain injuries.

Children and youth with acquired brain injuries are less likely to receive inpatient rehabilitation than adults. School becomes the setting for cognitive rehabilitation for students with brain injuries. Consequently, families and educators become the long term providers of educational services and rehabilitation supports in local schools and the community.

The student with a brain injury will have changing educational needs as the latent effects of trauma to the brain emerge over time. So it is important for families and educators to work together as partners to identify and meet the needs of children and youth with brain injuries.

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How does TBI affect Children and Adolescents? by Marilyn Lash, M.S.W. and Ron Savage, Ed.D.

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Does a brain injury affect children differently than adults? Yes, unlike the adult, a child’s brain is still developing right up through adolescence. An injury to the brain interrupts this development. A traumatic brain injury is different than a birth disorder or chronic illness. The age when the child is injured affects recovery as the brain matures. Special education services can help students with TBI learn and progress in school.

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