What is Traumatic Brain Injury, and how does it affect learning?

According to MedlinePlus a learning disorder is defined as a disorder affects how a person responds to new information. They may have complications with listening or paying attention, how they process speech, reading or writing, speaking or math. Sometimes the causes of the disorders are unknown. Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) is a common learning disorder with a known cause.

The term TBI does not apply to a child who is born with a brain injury, but one with a known cause after birth. Some of the common causes are car wrecks, blows to the head and falls. The term TBI applies to both open and closed injuries. In the United States the issues of TBI are addressed by the nation’s special education law, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). The purpose of this law is to give support to the student, family members and teachers to make the educational experience as productive as possible.

Students with TBI have very different problems. The formal definition used by IDEA is an acquired injury to the brain caused by an external physical force, resulting in total or partial functional disability or or psychosocial impairment, or both, that adversely affects a child’s educational performance. Because the brain is such a complex organ there is a wide variety of possible issues. In the worst case scenario the student is completely paralyzed and unconscious. This student needs constant care in a facility. There are others who may have issues like inappropriate social behaviors, struggling with logic and clear reasoning, while some may have speech and language issues, memory loss or physical limitations.

All of the news is not bad. The brain is an amazing organ. New and continued research is promising, every day there are developments that can be helpful to some students who have TBI.

There are some great things that schools can do to make the students time more productive. Each student with TBI will have an Individual Education Plan(IEP). A entire team works together to create a plan for each individual student. Some of the team members may include a doctor, teacher, parents, physical therapist, speech therapist, school administration member and any others that are deemed fit to help that particular students needs.

TBI is typically a shock for the family. A great school will step in as soon as possible to let the family know that there are options for their child. Outreach is something that most special education teachers do very well. They are quick to offer support and solutions. This is a little different than for families who have been dealing with a disability since birth. They have more experience dealing with the child and are aware of some of the limitations. Parents of a child who has just been injured with TBI are new to the program and have no idea what to expect.

It is important to know that in the United States every student has a right to an education. TBI does not change that right. There will be adjustments made to accommodate the needs of the student and have the child succeed.