Survival Kit

Survival Kit

Debbie Leonhardt, M.A.

Persons with brain injuries often have difficulty with planning and organization due to cognitive challenges. This new planner and organizer is filled with tools, strategies, checklists, schedules, reminders, logs, and charts. They are designed to help survivors develop compensatory strategies for everything from the tasks of daily living to organizing their household and routine. This new second edition of the popular Survival Kit is more compact, portable and affordable for easy use. The Survival Kit is ideal for use in rehabilitation, out-patient programs, residential settings, at work, at home and in the community.

The CD for the Survival Kit is included with files to print additional forms.

Item: SKIT
Price: $25.00
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Full Description

This Survival Kit was developed originally by Debbie Leonhardt after her brain injury dramatically changed her professional and personal life. Working with her therapist, she developed practical tools and strategies that helped her deal with the challenges of learning how to live with the cognitive challenges that made each day a struggle to simply survive. Her early workbook was the basis of this expanded 208 page organizer and planner. While it was specially designed for persons with brain injuries, it can be used by persons with other disorders affecting memory, planning and organizational skills.

The Survival Kit can be used at any stage of the rehabilitation process and the survivor’s recovery. Many clinicians and therapists are using it as part of a cognitive rehabilitation program. Some families and caregivers are using it to reinforce the development and use of compensatory strategies at home and in the community. Some individuals are using it independently as part of their daily or weekly routine.

The Kit’s flexibility encourages users to select the sections and strategies that are most useful and relevant for their situation and needs. The seven sections include schedules and calendars, journals and logs, daily living checklists, visual reminders, treatment tasks and goals, personal and household information, and daily survival strategies. There are samples with written information that show how to use the various forms, calendars and checklists.

ISBN# 1-931117-34-9
Pages 208 pages plus CD with PDF files for forms
Year 2011, edition second


Debbie Leonhardt, M.A.

Debbie Leonhardt is a survivor, a professional counselor, author, eloquent speaker, friend, and a most gracious lady. She founded Alexander Counseling and Consulting Services in Taylorsville, NC and specializes in mental health and addictions counseling. Her counseling and support of persons with brain injuries, as well as their family members, draws on her personal experience and professional expertise. She is a popular workshop leader at brain injury conferences and retreats and former Chair of the Board of Directors for the Brain Injury Association of North Carolina.

Her story is one that will touch hearts and inspire all who have experienced a traumatic brain injury. This is her true story, in her own words.

I was desperate. I had sustained a brain injury in an automobile accident and was struggling to deal with everyday living activities. After almost burning down my home twice by leaving cooking units on unattended, I finally realized I had a problem and that it wouldn’t go away.

Everything in my life that used to be so easy was now almost impossible to do without putting myself, others or property at risk. I was frustrated at losing my keys repeatedly, leaving frozen groceries in the car to melt, getting lost going to familiar places and incorrectly dialing the phone numbers of my family and friends. I couldn’t trust myself with anything, and lived each day in fear. I was fortunate in that someone who knew me realized what was happening and referred me to a specialist who knew how to help.

I entered an outpatient treatment program and began working harder than I had ever worked in my life! When my speech therapist, Mia, first suggested using a memory book, I resisted the idea. I had never needed one before and didn’t want to need one now! But I was desperate to regain some independence and make sense of the chaos my life had become.

At the beginning, my word-finding and writing skills were so damaged I was only able to keep a simple daily schedule and journal, mostly in list form. But gradually, with help, I began to understand how to use lists to help me with the skills I needed to not only survive each day, but to thrive. Even now, on a daily basis I continue to use the techniques, strategies and coping skills that were devised or taught during my therapy.

At the time of my accident I was working full-time in a public school as a counselor, and part-time as a music and youth minister in a church setting. Because of my functional deficits and extreme fatigue, I was initially unable to return to work. My first attempts at doing so were disastrous and left me feeling useless. My self-concept and identity eroded because I had always defined myself by the work I performed or what I accomplished. But gradually, over a period of several years while continuing my rehabilitation, I returned to work full-time.

It has been over twenty years now since my accident, years of growing, learning, sharing, doing and sometimes even failing. I retired early from the school system and now own and operate my own business. Some deficits remain, but I wouldn’t change my life or anything that has happened, including my brain injury. It is a part of who I am, and I am at peace with that. As you travel your unique journey, my wish is that you also find peace.


Guide for Using the Survival Kit

This Survival Kit is designed to be used by a wide variety of persons with brain injuries or brain disorders. Different levels of assistance may be needed for survivors to use this manual. Some may be able to set up and record their responses. Others may need the help of family members or cognitive therapists. In some situations, someone may have to write for the survivor.

This manual can be used at any point in the recovery or rehabilitation process. Repeated and continuous use will help persons whose memory has been affected to become more organized.

Schedules & Calendars

Several choices are given for daily and weekly schedules. Schedules and calendars are designed to help the survivor organize daily activities into a logical sequence. They may also be used to prioritize assignments, appointments, and errands. Important items left unfinished should be carried over to the next schedule or calendar.

Journals and Logs

These materials help the survivor develop and maintain a sense of personal history and perspective. The Daily Journal can be used to record important feelings, thoughts, judgments, and events.

The Personal History Log can be used to record one or two significant events that occur each day for a month. It may be especially useful for individuals who have difficulty remembering dates or being aware or being oriented to time. Writing information down and seeing it can help a person understand the passage of time and what has happened over time.

Daily Living Checklists

Checklists in this section are designed to help the survivor with personal hygiene, meal preparation, maintaining a household, driving, and taking medication(s) as prescribed. The Employment Checklist emphasizes skills necessary to function in the workplace.

Visual Reminders

This section contains visual reminders that are designed to minimize the survivor's reliance on memory. They may be copied and posted in useful places where the survivor lives. Suggested locations include near the door most often used to enter or leave the home, near the kitchen stove, and/or on a bulletin board.

Treatment Tasks and Goals

The materials in this section are designed for use primarily during rehabilitation sessions with the assistance of a cognitive therapist, counselor or therapist. These aids are particularly useful for periodic patient self-evaluation. They also help the survivor and family focus on issues that are essential to cognitive recovery.

Personal / Household Information

This unit has phone numbers, addresses, and other important personal information that might be needed daily. Financial management and budget worksheets help the survivor keep track of information that might be lost due to impaired organizational skills.

Survival Strategies

This section is a collection of techniques to help the survivor simplify daily tasks, communicate effectively, and cope with difficulties experienced as a result of memory loss or attention deficits.

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