Adolescents with TBI: A Dream Deferred?

"I wish I were in wheelchair, then people would understand that something's wrong with me," said a patient of clinical psychologist Mariann Young.

See more video clips with Dr. Mariann Young.

[Mariann Young] I had a kid who had no physical disabilities [Mariann Young, PhD] [Clinical Psychologist – Rainbow Rehabilitation Centers, Inc.] who came to us after entering high school and said, "I wish I was in a wheelchair, "because I don't fit in, and people don't get it, "and I look like everyone else, and I just am not making it." He wound up dropping out—in the— when he could at 16, and then gradually went back and went through adult night school. And he graduated from high school at age 22. But, he just—he couldn't do it. He couldn't do it with his same age peers. And he knew— they know and they just— they can't figure out, "Who am I?" In a lot of ways, if a teen is injured younger, everyone adapts. And so the goals become different because you know that this child is special from a younger age. When it happens at the age— an injury— at the age of 14, 15, 16, then it's—it's kind of like— what happens to a dream deferred because—again— the kid's trying to formulate who they are, what their plans are, if they're going to graduate from high school and go into a job, if they are going to go to community college, to a university. The parents—the parents see who their child's going to be. Then they may come back and not have a whole lot of physical disabilities, or they may be minor, but they may have a huge change in personality. And I've had parents come to me in family sessions and say, "I don't like them any more. "I love them, but I don't like them. "They used to walk into a room and they had class, "and people looked at them. "Now I walk into a room and I don't know "what's going to come out of their mouths. "I don't know what they're going to do. I don't know what they're going to say. "And I'm always on guard because I know "it's just going to be something that's horrible. And I won't be able to stop it; and then people look at me." That's what the parents say too— like—"What's wrong with you? What kind of a parent are you? How do you parent your child?" And you don't always have an opportunity to explain. And people don't truly understand. There's so little information there about brain injury. And they blame you and they blame your child.
Posted on BrainLine April 30, 2014.

Produced by Victoria Tilney McDonough and Justin Rhodes, BrainLine.

Comments (2)

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Thanks for bringing attention to this problem. I got my TBI at 20 years old, and almost 6 years later my own family doesn't think anything is wrong with me because I look fine. My mom and I are very close and my neurosurgeon told her I was going to be fine when I woke up from a coma and responded with struggle when the doctor asked my name. I think he meant by saying I was going to be fine was that I'm going to recover to walking and talking. The neuro rehab I was at didn't even make sure my family understood the outlook. A year after the accident we would get in huge fights because I tried to tell her that I wasn't fine and she would scold me saying the doctor said I'm fine and the pain I was in was fantic pain from the opioid medication, and it might have been a little but 3 years later I get the same pain (my spine was fractured, I had metal hardware in my chest, my hips were misaligned because I fractured and rotated my hip, I had been paralyzed on my left side, my skull was badly fractured), I could go on; how could anyone that goes through injuries that many injuries at once not be in pretty significant pain. I had a hemorrhage in the posterior horn, cranial edema, and swelling from a thrombosis in the jugular one of the skull fractures caused and I am definitely not the same. My life was ruined. I just said 2 days ago to my mom that I wish something was physically wrong with me because I feel like people dont understand, especially the visual disturbances I've had for 2 years ,I have streaks or flashes in my vision constantly and it's been getting worse and it's my depression is tanking. If I can't find a diagnosis that will provide me with effective treatment I'll have to drop out of college. They should show a video like this for invisible illness to show to students the first day of high school, and briefly explain PTSD, TBI, autoimmune, etc and then something about how to treat the peers that are living with any disability. there are some high schools (like the one I went to that ignore kids living with disabilities

My heart bleeds for you, Emily!! My 19-year old grandson suffered a sever TBI at age 16 and wasn't thought to survive. He had fallen from a cliff. He had to learn to breath, to swallow, to eat, and everything else in life. He is LUCKY though because he had the good fortune to be in a good high school (after leaving the hospital) and is now in his second year of college. Your injuries were insurmountable, my dear! I can only offer you my many, many prayers because I feel that's what got my grandson and his family, through a couple years of hell. You'll get through it, honey!! I shall certainly be thinking of you every day and every night!! I send my love, Beth