Helping Preteens with TBI Feel Comfortable in Their Own Skin

[Mariann Young, PhD, Clinical Psychologist, Rainbow Rehabilitation Centers, Inc.] With pre-teens, we do everything based on that word "pre". What we found with our pre-teens is that they don't like being a pre-teen. They want to be a teen. They don't know what a teen is, but they just don't like being a pre-teen— and it's kind of like—I'm sure it's like what everyone experiences in middle school, that your body is changing, and you feel isolated, and you're the only one, and now, on top of it you have an injury. So, what we do is we acknowledge that. We give them groups that they've said that they want, but we also will give them a "pre" experience, and by that I mean the teens, once they're 14, have 2 days where they get to work, and money is a huge motivator. So, with the pre-teens, we have a prevoc, so they have work hardening kinds of skills. They have activities in which because we have a treatment center and we have a day program, we feed 'em lunch. So, an activity that they may do is go to the grocery store and learn to navigate a grocery store shop, stock the pantry, take an inventory, and it's all pre-work activities. Now, we can't pay them because it's not true work, but we can watch what they do, we can give them feedback on how they accept direction and when they've done a good job, and we can give them a gift card at the store that they want. So, if you acknowledge that they're young people with dignity, even though they're all over the place and they're uncomfortable in their own skin and they act out, but they really want to be teens and you capture that "pre", and you tame the groups down or you shore the groups down to their level— and they love it! They really think that you're making an experience that's based for them and that's helpful and that is fun. [brainline.org]

Dr. Mariann Young talks about a program that focuses on preteens with brain injury that helps them learn skills and strategies while having fun.

See more video clips with Dr. Mariann Young.

Posted on BrainLine May 1, 2014.

 Produced by Victoria Tilney McDonough and Justin Rhodes, BrainLine.