Completing the puzzle: helping a child’s school understand their brain injury

Brain Injury Specialist, Claire Hall explains that many parents she meets are frustrated with a school’s lack of understanding.

“I have recently started working with a 10 year old girl who sustained her brain injury following encephalitis three years ago. I have been to her home to meet her parents and explain my role, gain a history of who is involved. And also to find out what their and their daughter’s priorities are. Since my visit I have had regular contact from her mum. The last call was unfortunately one that I have quite often with parents. She was very upset and frustrated after a phone call from school. It was a case of staff misunderstanding the child’s needs with stressful consequences for her and mum. Mum explains that she feels sheer frustration that three years on she is having the same conversations over and over. In my role as a brain injury specialist I see this regularly happen. The child’s school have been given good general training in the past by other professionals involved but both mum, staff and myself feel that this is hard to put in place and would welcome some specific information around strategies based on the child’s needs. My plan, agreed with school, parents and child is to complete some specific training for staff alongside the clinical psychologist. I feel optimistic that there will be a clear and definite improvement in the school’s understanding and therefore support in place once we finish the training. I plan to continue having regular contact to monitor, evaluate and if needed alter support as this young lady completes her primary education and prepares for transition to secondary school. Community working can often involve several professionals working with a child, each with their own role to play, some of whom are guided by strict ‘rules’ by their service about what they can and can’t provide. This can cause difficulties for schools to draw it together to gain a clear understanding. I quite like my analogies so bear with me. I think in this case it is a bit like building a jigsaw puzzle. Each professional brings an additional piece for school to put together. A few key pieces are missing which prevents school from truly making sense of it all. As a brain injury specialist I aim to work alongside school and psychology to help provide the last missing pieces which will click everything together." Get more advice as your child returns to school following a brain injury.
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