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Teaching Disabled Students
Traumatic Brain Injuries

Students with traumatic brain injuries are becoming increasingly more prevalent. Brain injury can result from two types of trauma: 1) external events, such as closed head trauma or an object penetrating the brain; or 2) internal events, such as cerebral vascular accidents, tumors, ingestion of toxic substances, hypoxia, or infections of the brain. These students often exhibit one or more of the following symptoms: short-term memory problems, serious attention deficits, behavior problems, problems of judgment, and serious anxiety attacks.

Strategies That Can Be Used With Students Who Have Traumatic Brain Injuries

Changes in symptoms and condition can occur at any time. This may require changes in accommodations, as well as in education programs. (Some of the strategies listed in the section on learning disabilities may also be appropriate.)

  • Demonstrate new tasks, and provide examples, charts, and other graphic cues when possible to illustrate ideas and concepts.
  • State instructions clearly and go over each step to make sure the student understands instructions.
  • Paraphrase information to help with recall.
  • Review and summarize often.
  • Repeat all key points.
  • Provide ample time for task completion. Students with traumatic brain injuries often need extra time to process information and complete tasks as well as to respond to verbal cues and instructor questions.
  • Encourage the use of schedules, checklists, and notebooks to assist in organizing daily information.
  • Break assignments into smaller parts. Break complex tasks down into steps.
  • Be prepared for reduced stamina and increased fatigue.
  • Allow students to tape record lectures.
  • Assist student in obtaining a note taker.
  • Have the student sit in the front of the class: this helps with attention, concentration, and also minimizes distractions.