Talking to others about brain injury - a guide for young people
This article aims to give young people some ideas for speaking with friends and family about brain injury.
You might have already found that some people don’t understand acquired brain injury.1, 2 In fact, lots of parents say they hadn’t heard of it before their son or daughter was affected. 3 So you might have to tell other people some of the things you have learnt about brain injury. This might not be easy and you may get tired of repeating the same things over and over. But you don’t have to tell everybody about acquired brain injury. You may only want to talk about it to some important people in your life: your friends, a boyfriend or girlfriend, family, or perhaps a teacher (or employer if you have a job). Hopefully, it will mean these important people are less likely to ‘get the wrong idea’ about your injury.4, 5 You may have difficulties with fatigue and you often feel tired, for example. Someone who doesn’t know about brain injury might think someone who has fatigue is just being lazy or trying to get out of doing something. 6, 7 So it might be useful to tell people about it if you have difficulties with fatigue. Another example might be if you find conversations difficult. You might have difficulty processing information and you need some time to gather your thoughts.8 Someone who doesn’t know about brain injury might think this was rude.9 They might not realise it’s something you can’t help. So sharing information can be useful in avoiding this kind of misunderstanding.
What to shareWhat information you’d like to share with people is entirely up to you. But you might want to think about situations in which you’d like to offer an explanation. Perhaps you benefit from taking a break every now and again, from school or work. This kind of information would be good for a teacher or employer to know. Some people with acquired brain injury experience seizures, and they might like to share this information with people they spend a lot of time with.
Talking about brain injury in generalWe’ve talked about how sharing information about your brain injury can help. But it might also be useful to look at some of the more general points about acquired brain injury. Most people don’t know too much about brain injury and it may be up to you to help them out. Let's look at this book’s definition of acquired brain injury. “You might hear it shortened to ‘ABI’. The ‘acquired’ part means only that the child wasn’t born with their injury – it is something that has happened later.” Some other key points might be:
- That everyone is affected by brain injury differently.
- There are some things that people with acquired brain injury have in common. But there are lots of differences too, because each of our brains is unique.10
- That lots of people make a good physical recovery from brain injury.
- But there might be ‘hidden’ things happening that might not be obvious at first. 11