Friday, August 24, 2012

Don Peek: Disability: Traumatic Brain Injury

This post is authored by Don Peek, a former educator and past president of the training division of Renaissance Learning. He now runs The School Funding Center, a company that provides grant information and grant-writing services to schools. To learn more, or to subscribe to the School Funding Center Grant Database, go to schoolfundingcenter.

Disability:  Traumatic Brain Injury

By IDEA definition, traumatic brain injury is “an acquired injury to the brain caused by an external physical force, resulting in total or partial functional disability or psychosocial impairment, or both, that adversely affects a child’s educational performance. The term applies to open or closed head injuries resulting in impairments in one or more areas, such as cognition; language; memory; attention; reasoning; abstract thinking; judgment; problem-solving; sensory, perceptual, and motor abilities; psycho-social behavior; physical functions; information processing; and speech. The term does not apply to brain injuries that are congenital or degenerative, or to brain injuries induced by birth trauma.”

These brain injuries may happen more often than you think.  About 1,400,000 people have traumatic brain injuries each year.  For children 0-14 years traumatic brain injuries annually result in 435,000 trips to the emergency room, 37,000 hospitalizations, and almost 2,700 deaths.  In 2007, nearly 25,000 school-aged children received special education services for traumatic brain injury.

Some of the greatest problems from traumatic brain injury arise in school.  Educators may not realize that the difficulties a child is having are the result of injury and may misdiagnose the child as having a learning disability, emotional disturbance, or an intellectual disability.  In many cases as a result of misdiagnosis, the child does not receive the educational help and support he/she needs.

Children who are already in school when they have an incident that results in traumatic brain injury may have a host of problems.  Not only have many of them lost some of the skills they once possessed in both the academic and social areas, they can remember how they were before the injury and have trouble adjusting to a new, lower set of skills that they now are forced to live with.

If that were not bad enough, both classmates and teachers also remember them pre-injury and often have trouble adjusting their expectations for those who have received traumatic brain injury.  This is especially true if the injured person shows no physical signs of injury.

It is tremendously important for parents to contact school officials before their child returns to school. Special education services should do a thorough evaluation of the child.  Using that evaluation, special education professionals, teachers, parents, and administrators should agree on an Individualized Educational Program (IEP) that will best serve the child’s educational needs.  It is imperative that this plan remain flexible in the early stages to see exactly what works best with the individual child.

Of course, it is not only the child who suffers from this type of injury.  Parents see their child change dramatically literally overnight.  Both parent and child may benefit from counseling because of the dramatic changes brought about by a traumatic brain injury.  It doesn’t matter if the injury is caused by a car wreck, a fall, a bicycle accident, or some other way, the results generally mean a change in lifestyle for the child especially, but also for the rest of the family.

When a child receives a traumatic brain injury, he/she may exhibit physical disabilities, difficulties in thinking, or social, behavioral, or emotional problems.  Early diagnosis and intervention are essential, and it is vital that parents, special educators, and other teachers and administrators work together to help the child cope with such an injury.
Grant Info:

Grant Name:  Let’s ALL Play

Funded By:  National Inclusion Project

Description:  Let’s ALL Play brings an inclusive recreational experience to children with disabilities. Through training, staffing, and scholarships, Let’s ALL Play gives children with disabilities the same experience as those without. Children with disabilities and their peers who are typically developing come together to participate in recreational activities such as swimming, arts and crafts, community service, physical fitness and more.

Program Areas:  Disabilities, Special Education

Recipients:  Public School, Private school, High Ed, Other

Proposal Deadline:  9/15/12

Amount:  $10,000.00

Contact Person:  Aron Hall

Availability:  All States


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