Tackling Social Challenges for Children with TBI
Hospital Executive Amy Mansue talks about how rehab specialists can help kids with TBI and their families deal with the social challenges that can arise soon after the injury, but often more importantly, months or years after the injury.
[Amy Mansue] The social challenges for any child who has suffered a traumatic brain injury vary based upon the type of injury obviously and what their limitations are. I have one case that is coming to my mind where the children are close—the siblings are close in age, and she sees her one daughter progressing so much faster and doing those normal things, and her other daughter just isn't going to do that. And trying to find ways to balance that because you—you know— as you're little and you're injured—you know—you can be picked up, you can be carried around, you can maneuver easily, and as you get older and you still remain in that same mental state but have—you know—all of the attributes of an adult it often becomes much more challenging, and people— I find—people find that children who are injured that they sort of come to—right? You want to coddle, you want to feel, you want to be close to, and as you get older you may not feel that same willingness to reach out in the same way. And I think that that's really, really difficult because then you're different, and how you help society interact with that is really an important thing to understand and cope with it as a parent. Somebody was telling me last night that they were out with their four-year-old for Father's Day and somebody came through in a wheelchair— and of course he's four—so he says, "Look at that guy in the wheelchair." And she was absolutely—"Shh." You know—she immediately reacted, but—you know—that is normal in the real world when you're not in the safe hospital environment, and giving people tools to be able to cope with being different is part of the process and part of the psychological services that go along— not just for the child but also—even more so—for the family and siblings. We often see this in children with autism who may have outbursts or behaviors or have no speech. It is trying to help people cope with how people react to that. You know—it's tough—you know—it's part of—again— you know—all that social support that it's with you during the beginning of the injury isn't there in that same way when your child is sitting in the back of the church screaming—you know. And you're feeling uncomfortable and how you help people manage that and create that warm environment is really, really important. And it's as important for us to make sure that the community access is there—not just the physical—is there a ramp? Does the door open? But the emotional—you know. Is there a safe place for them to be in a library if they can't contain their voices or they do act out in a different way? And making sure that they can still participate is as important part of the process as the therapeutic interventions.
Posted on BrainLine August 8, 2013.
Produced by Sharon Ladin, Justin Rhodes, and Erica Queen, BrainLine.
Amy Mansue is president and chief executive officer of Children's Specialized Hospital. She provides leadership to an extremely skilled team of clinicians and therapists providing specialized care for children.