In recovering from brain injuries, different people travel different roads toward different destinations. What direction a person may go, or how far, is unpredictable. The eventual outcome will depend on many things, including the nature and severity of the injury. Some students don’t return to school. Some students return and graduate from college. The experiences of other people after brain injuries are as varied as the people. Each brain injury is unique. Predicting outcomes is precarious. Different people make progress at different rates and in different ways, all with at least two challenges in common: patience and perseverance.
School, too, is unique for everyone, and each student brings a one-of-a-kind recipe of life’s ingredients to the cafeteria table. Add a brain injury, and new items may appear on life’s daily menu. Depending on the level of injury, students’ challenges can run the full spectrum. Cognitive functioning – such as processing speed, sustaining attention, completing tasks, memory, judgment, and impulsivity – may be changed. Academic skills, such as reading, writing, and math, may need special attention. Communication may be different. Motor skills – such as accessing their physical environment, or handwriting, or using a keyboard or other devices – are important. Functional skills, such as caring for oneself and following a schedule, and social and emotional skills, such as making and keeping friends and regulating one’s feelings, may be challenging. Life is changed for the student, the family, friends, and schoolmates. Don’t assume that you’re normal or that things will be the same. “Family members, teachers, and other students have to learn to be more lenient and understanding. Processing now is different for the student, maybe slower.”