Talking to teachers about brain injury

It’s the start of the academic year and parents may be looking for information to share with their child’s new teacher.

  With new classes of children to teach, education professionals may be looking for this information themselves. Teachers may not know about brain injury so it is often down to parents to pass on the knowledge they’ve picked up – this could be a discussion, physically handing over information and/or emailing a link. Our website has an Education section that provides information for teachers and parents and sharing such information may help avoid any misunderstandings. We’ve summarised this information below. Our Teacher’s factsheet section on our site expands on this and parents can share this with teachers. We also provide practical strategies for teachers.

What teachers need to know

It’s useful for teachers to know that children and adults are affected very differently by acquired brain injury (ABI). Children’s brains are still growing, so an ABI means they may not go on to pick up some of the skills they otherwise would have. The word ‘acquired’ in ABI means the child wasn’t born with brain injury – and you may want to explain this to the teacher along with the fact there may be ‘hidden’ effects of their brain injury that aren’t easy to spot. It could take weeks or even years for some effects to come to the surface and children will respond completely differently to one other. Additionally, the speed of recovery is hard to predict.

What brain injury could mean in the classroom

Teachers will want to know the practical implications for the classroom and understand how and why children may find learning environments difficult. Challenges may include fatigue, with children getting tired and struggling with concentration, or difficulty processing information. Our website provides a list of potential difficulties the teacher should be aware of. It is also worth involving the school’s Special Educational Needs Co-ordinator (SENCO) in any discussions. Parents may want to fill in a checklist for teachers that summarises the information the teacher would find it helpful to know. We provide such a checklist on our website under ‘What sort of information would a teacher need?’. This is drawn from Sue Walker’s book Educational Implications of Acquired Brain Injury: a resource for educational psychologists. It is often helpful for the school to talk to pupils in the class about brain injury and the changes that may affect a child, such as speech and energy levels. More explanation may help with inclusion. Another way to help children who are experiencing difficulties to feel more included is for the school to run a ‘Circle of Friends’ scheme.

A film about brain injury and education

On our website we share the film Must try harder. This film is useful to parents, teachers, SENCO’S and anyone else involved in meeting a child’s educational needs. Must try harder provides an understanding of why educational difficulties can arise after ABI.
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