Educating Parents and Students on Academic Needs Post-TBI

[Dr. Juliet Haarbauer-Krupa] I'll talk first about system challenges because one of the first things that happens out of medical care—there is huge variability about what parents understand they need and what teens understand they need. They tend to think, even if they've just been in for a day or if they've been in for 2 weeks, "When I get back to school, everything will be fine. I don't need to make changes in my school program." I'm hoping as parents learn more about teens in transition, they realize that really the school system can be a benefit to them and enrollment in Special Education can be a benefit to them. So that's one aspect, because that means the teen is going to get coordinated care beyond just the hospital stay. Many parents and teens would like to graduate with their class, and that is a goal we all want to see them achieve. Especially after a catastrophic injury, there's that hope that I can still do that. However, that ends your services. The services after high school graduation are not the same as the services before high school graduation. I'd like to get the message to parents that even if your child has an accident in their senior year, contact your school and see if you can get Special Education services before you graduate because they will connect you to services that will help you after you graduate. For example, the SAT now has a written sub-test portion that is very difficult. One of the things we routinely do with kids going to college is look at that site with them and show them the grading procedures. If we have enough teens who are interested in college and have not taken the SAT, we ask them to practice writing an essay while they're with us, and then we compare it to those grading norms because they have really not thought about that— that things have changed since their injury but "I still want to go to college and I have to take this SAT." Another option for teens is to start out a community college that doesn't have an SAT requirement, prove yourself with your grades versus your SAT, and then go on to a bigger program. So we're trying to educate families about all of those options. And what I would say to families is, "Make sure you use all your resources available," which include Special Education and Vocational Rehabilitation. The good news is if you're moving forward with your career path, you won't need them anymore, but maybe they'll help you in the transition to adulthood.

Everyone wants to see a teen with TBI graduate with his class, but not tapping into all available support services like special ed or vocational rehab before graduating can set that person back later.

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.