Students with Acquired Brain Injury

What is it like for a person with a brain injury to be in college?
According to Dr. Glen Johnson in the Traumatic Brain Injury Survival Guide, returning to school may be one of the hardest challenges faced by a person who has had a brain injury. School is nothing but learning new information, which takes energy, concentration, reasoning, organization, and social skills, and these are the functional areas that are most affected by brain injury.

What to Know About How People Adapt to the Consequences of Brain Injury:

    • Stay organized using a daily planner/to-do list
    • Break down projects/concepts into intermediate steps and smaller parts
    • Make associations between words/concepts
    • Use word lists
    • Audiotape lectures
    • Use alternate format textbooks
    • Arrange for note-takers in class
    • Arrange tutoring with someone who is familiar with brain injury
    • Schedule classes/taking tests at peak energy times
    • Reduce overload by taking a reduced course load and spacing out classes during the day/week
    • Take time to rest
    • Take tests in a low distraction environment (at Student Disability Services)
    • Request extended time for testing (at Student Disability Services)
    • Sit where there are the fewest distractions in the classroom
    • Plan ahead
    • Write down to-do items/deadlines in a daily planner
    • Break down projects/concepts into intermediate steps and smaller parts
    • Ask for time-out using pre-arranged signals with faculty/classmates
    • Seek counseling from a professional who is knowledgeable about brain injury (counselors who are unfamiliar could make things worse). Contact Student Disability Services for resources.

These compensation strategies often can be embarrassing and frustrating for a person who has a brain injury, especially because her or his disability otherwise would be invisible. However, since the strategies often are essential to a person’s success, it is important to use them and to get the necessary support for doing so. Students can contact Student Disability Services to confidentially work out appropriate accommodations and inform faculty members to implement academic and/or classroom accommodations, such as extended time for testing and audiotaping lectures.

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