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Easy to Misunderstand the Behavior of a Person with Traumatic Brain Injury Easy to Misunderstand the Behavior of a Person with Traumatic Brain Injury

Comments [3]

Click on any phrase to play the video at that point.
You ask about how the behavior of a person who may experience disability following a brain injury, may be misinterpreted. It can be misinterpreted many ways. We talk about problems of awareness for people who experience disability following brain injuries, and I see awareness as a person can't perceive, understand, and react to a situation like other people in that situation do. It doesn't take a brain injury to have a lack of awareness. You walk into the wrong party, you walk into the wrong situation, and you're not going to know all the factors and you're going to be sort of the odd person out. But we also have to talk about people and programs who are trying to work with that individual about their lack of awareness. And what I mean by that, they don't understand how the person of focus is understanding the situation. And much as we talk about the person who may experience disability following a brain injury not getting it because they don't understand the context of the situation or the goals and everything, those of us who are trying to help that person, we have to understand the world as that person sees it. They're not acting insane. They're not acting delusional. They're acting according to the information that they're receiving and understanding. So if a person has problems with attention, or they have problems with memory, they don't have the same information that somebody else may have, and so we need to understand that and we need to understand the capacities of the individual and to work within those capacities. For example, if you and I spoke two different languages, we couldn't have this discussion right now, so we would need a support, which would be an interpreter. So one of the things we can talk about is being able to interpret for a person, helping to provide information to the person. We call those 'Cues' or 'Setups', and things like that, that make sense to the individual. And we do that with everybody. It's not just with brain injury. When we get on an airplane we get cues and guides of what to do to have a nice, safe flight, but just in case it isn't, this is what's going to happen and this is what you have to do. That's actually called preteaching. We find out the person's strengths, and we work with those strengths. And again, that's no different than anybody else.

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Interpreting the behavior of someone with TBI can be like trying to interpret the words of someone speaking a foreign language. Learn more.

Produced by Vicky Youcha and Brian King.

Harvey Jacobs, PhDHarvey Jacobs, PhD, Harvey Jacobs, PHD has a long history of serving people seeking opportunity who are challenged by disability following neurologic, psychiatric, developmental, medical or physical impairments. He is a partner in Lash and Associates Publishing/Training.

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Comments [3]

I have had a tbi for 18 years. I have a very hard time explaining myself. It is very frustrating and hurtful that people(family) don't understand or even care.

Oct 6th, 2015 10:33pm

I agree with the statement, it would be seriously great for others to see this video, I have a brain injury and have experienced negative responses or no support too.

It's interesting to learn more information as I attempt to adapt, although it has been disheartening as memories are somewhat there yet extremely jumbled up.

Additionally, when people talk about things in general sometimes it almost sounds like some foreign language that my ears can not decipher and other days not as horrible. 

The worse part is going from memories struck that you know you were not this way before, and the paralyzed feeling that you can not climb out of the unfamiliar body you're in.

Sep 2nd, 2015 12:00pm

I wish more people could see this video. I have a brain injury and have auditory processing problems as well as difficulty reading a social situation in addition to the ones mentioned in your video. Misunderstandings have placed a strain on my family relations, friendships and worst of all my job.

Dec 22nd, 2010 2:05am


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