Road traffic accident: Jade and Elliott

Elliott, aged 12, sustained a brain injury when he was run over by a car while walking home from school. His mother, Jade, shares their story.

Published: September 2016. Child’s age at time of brain injury: 12 years.
Elliott with his sister
Elliott with his sister

Hospital

When I was told Elliott had been in an accident I was in shock and couldn't quite believe it. I was driven an hour to the hospital Elliott had been flown to and saw him before he went in to surgery. That's when reality kicked in. He was in an induced coma and I felt helpless. I was alone waiting for family to arrive and my battery was dead on my phone. After Elliott's surgery, we were told about his brain injury and the uncertainty of the outcome.
I clung to hope for him to wake, then when he woke I had hope for him to see again. When he could see I had hope to hear him speak again. When he spoke I had hope for him to walk again. When he walked I had hope he would be himself. I am still holding on for that but getting to know my new son in the meantime."

Early days of recovery

Elliott in a wheelchair during rehabilitation
Elliott with his sister during rehabilitation
Nobody knows how any brain is going to react after a brain injury. It's just a waiting game.  But when Elliott's brain was doing the work to get better he had some traumatic episodes that will stay with me forever. It was like he was hallucinating yet at the time he was still unresponsive so his movements were involuntary. He was screaming and crying and punching out yet nobody knew what was happening until weeks later. We were told it could be his brain going through the motions to get better. I wish we were told earlier.
I also wish we were offered psychological help to deal with the trauma."

Impact on family life and friendships

Life is very different because Elliott is different. His relationship with his sister has broken down completely and he barely tolerates her. This causes difficulties on a daily basis and we have to have a support worker come to our house to help keep them separated when my husband goes to work.
Elliott spending time with his sister
He has no friends at school and the holidays are unbearable because he has nobody to spend his time with apart from us and the support worker. He is socially awkward and needs to be supervised in social settings so it's impossible for him to be a normal teenager. His behaviour has changed and he is very aggressive so we need to avoid situations that could aggravate him and ensure there is structure to his day otherwise he becomes anxious.

Returning to school

Elliott returned to mainstream school six months after the accident but after just receiving an EHCP, we are fighting to try to move him into a special school because they can't meet his needs. He's made no educational progress and has no friendship groups. The team of therapists he saw in the early months weren't neuro trained so he barely made progress in speech and language, physio and psychology. He has joined a disabled football team which he loves and keeps him going.

Others reactions

We've not been in many situations that people don't know about Elliott's injury but the odd time people stare and can't quite make out why he's acting oddly. They stare at his scar on his head if it's on show too but don't ask questions. I've not had a lot of opportunity to speak about what's happened and it took me nearly a year to accept what's happened. I've still not been able to speak to Elliott much either because he's not been ready. We had a lot of support from family with our youngest child which helped a lot so we could digest what was happening with Elliott.

Learning to cope with the challenges

Elliott needs structure so we plan ahead and have a white board in his bedroom to keep him in the loop with what's happening. Elliott's fatigue generally leads to angry outbursts if he doesn't sleep so we encourage him to have naps when needed. We also try to suggest he makes notes in his phone or put reminders in his calendar on his phone but he hasn't quite got the hang of it yet. We have joined a gym too for his physical needs but he makes excuses not to go so we're working on this.

Looking to the future

Elliott with his step-dad
Elliott with his step-dad
I hope Elliott can get into a special school where they can meet his needs and help him move forward. We have no idea about employment at this stage but hope he finds something he enjoys one day. We will keep going whatever it takes and never give up.             To other parents I would say:
keep fighting, be determined to get what your child needs and never give up. Keep positive and pass that positivity onto your loved one."
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