For Adolescents with TBI, Getting Help with Plan B

[Dr. Juliet Haarbauer-Krupa] In college, unfortunately, if you're quiet and do well, you graduate—that's one avenue. If you're quiet and don't do well, you're probably going to flunk out because you have to be engaged. If you flunk out, the best source of support for you is in your community with your family and your circle of support that you've established in your community, so going back to them and trying to figure out "what do I do next?" Individuals like that can connect to vocational rehabilitation services, to brain injury support groups, and to their families. That highlights the importance of all those groups for the teen and their friends. In our program, we have had those kids, and we've also had kids who graduated prematurely, I would say, from high school, and they're sitting at home. So when they come in, we've built a circle of support. We've helped them identify their interests. We also do a resume, and we do a job interview practice with their peer coaches, and we switch that around with our vocational counselor. By building that resume, that gets them to start looking at what they might need to do to work toward their goals. For example, many of our teens because of their injury and hospitalization have not gotten work experience as a teenager. What is nice about work experience as a teenager is most teens go from job to job. They might work fast food for a little bit or work in a nursing home, but that's common in that age group. So if you keep switching jobs, it's not going to look out of character or out of sync with what other teens do. So we're urging families to try to get their teens either work or volunteer experience to get some kind of experience outside themselves on the resume. Building that and getting teens to look at that, I think is a critical thing. We also help them build a circle of support in their community. We have this diagram where we ask them, "Who do you call if you need a ride?" or "Who do you call if you're sad?", and many of them when they first come in just write their parents' names in there. And we say, "You know what, when you go on past high school, your parents are one source of support, but who else do you trust?" So we're starting to get them to think about that, so with this failure of college— if you flunk out of college— you can go back to those people and talk to them about it, "Now what do I do? I need a job."

If a student with TBI fails in college, go back to your family and circle of support to see what went wrong and what you can do differently to succeed in college or work.

See more video clips with Dr. Haarbauer-Krupa.

Juliet Haarbauer-Krupa

Juliet Haarbauer-Krupa, PhD has 30 years of clinical experience in brain injury and has developed various pediatric rehabilitation programs. She is a researcher/speech pathologist at Children's Healthcare of Atlanta and adjunct faculty, Department of Pediatrics, Emory School of Medicine.

Posted on BrainLine July 2, 2013.

Produced by Victoria Tilney McDonough, Justin Rhodes, and Lara Collins, BrainLine.

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