We are in the process of transitioning my 9-year-old son from a traumatic brain injury rehab program back to public school. Some have asked that I share this letter that I wrote to his school, with the chance that it could help or inspire others. If it helps one or two, I am happy to do so.
Dear Teachers and Administration,
As we transition Timothy back to public school, I want to thank you in advance for the care and love that I know you and the entire staff will give him. As a mom who has witnessed what he has been through in the last year, I admit, I am nervous! (yes, sorry I may even cry some..) Through this process, I have been forced to trust others that they will take care of him as their own. We have come so far from a year ago where the medical staff said progress would be slow. Day in and day out, we watched helplessly as he cried from head pain, struggled to remember basic facts (birthday, last name), and walked in an unbalanced stupor.
So…..here we are, a year later; we’ve all been changed by this event; as most crisis situations will do to a family. It took me a long time to fully admit that my child had a “Traumatic Brain Injury.” A “concussion” sounded so much easier to accept and understand.
The reason I write is to ask you to educate the kids, and even the faculty. Many do not know or understand what happened to him, if he is “normal,” or how to treat him. Traumatic brain injuries are not obvious. They are not like a broken leg that gets put in a cast. They are obscure and the process of recovery is usually very long ... and recovery is subjective as some strengths are never fully regained. I ask that the children treat him normally. They can ask questions, Timothy is pretty open about his injuries and his struggles; however he, like everyone else in life wants to feel normal, accepted, and confident. Brain injuries can steal those qualities in an instant. He will struggle to adjust back to public school, he will get frustrated, he will shut down; after all, he remembers who he was before his injury. He is keenly aware of his deficits, tries to compensate as best he can, but there are still many areas, both cognitively and physically that are still compromised.
Please accept him as he is, help him feel good about the child he is today even if you remember who he was yesterday; and keep in mind the inner strength that he has shown through all of this. At the end of the day, please remember that he is just a 9-year-old boy who has come through more than many of us can truly understand.
I know you will take good care of him, we thank you for that. Please don’t be surprised if I bring him on day one, get him settled, then run into the bathroom to cry ... this has been a long road for all of us.
With sincere thanks,