I have noticed that when my teenaged son, who sustained a TBI when he was hit by a car on his bike almost two years ago, gets stressed out or tired it can affect his communication skills. Why is this, and what can I do to help him?
If you think of the brain as an engine, it tends to run out of gas faster after a brain injury. Rest is the only way to fill up the tank again. So, the best way to prevent communication problems is to avoid being stressed and tired as much as possible. As the parent of a teenager, you can help your son develop a schedule that includes regular rest. You can help him to:
- Keep a regular schedule and get enough sleep. (Most teenagers don't!)
- Arrange to take breaks during the day to have some "down time."
- Identify stressful situations and try to avoid or reduce them when possible.
- Recognize his own personal signs of stress and fatigue so he can manage them. For example, is he aware of his communication breakdowns? Does he get irritable? Does his breathing rate get faster?
- Plan to talk to his school about the effects of brain injury. The school counselor can be a good place to start if teachers are reluctant to make accommodations.
Janet Brown, MA, CCC-SLP spent twenty years in practice at the Veterans Administration Medical Center and at the National Rehabilitation Hospital in Washington, DC. She is the former director of Health Care Services at the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association.