Re-Entry to School Following a TBI
The student may be returning to school from a hospital, cognitive rehabilitation unit, a residential placement, another facility, or a time of recovery at home. Regardless of the environment that the student is returning from, there are certain considerations that the student’s transition team must make. The checklist below will help ensure the proper support for the student as he/she transitions back to school.
- As soon as you know a student has a diagnosis of TBI, designate a school contact person to provide and receive information to and from the team (family, school staff, residential staff, facility staff, etc.).
- Obtain parental consent for release of confidential information between the discharging facility and the school.
- Identify a contact person at the discharging facility (e.g., care coordinator or social worker).
- Access updates on the student’s progress and ongoing needs.
- Educate family members and school staff regarding the student’s condition and educational planning.
- Ensure educational services are provided if the student will receive long-term hospital care.
- Establish the student’s follow-up and reevaluation schedules and communicate these schedules to the team.
- Find out the date of the student’s discharge.
- Communicate the discharge date with all contacts so everyone can have input in the transition plan.
- Request a school reentry meeting before the student’s discharge.
- Secure the discharge summary – (brain injury screening results, relevant psychological/psychiatric evaluations and notes, and treatment plan).
- The summary should include necessary information/recommendations from the student’s doctor to inform the school team.
- Identify cognitive and behavioral interventions used in the student’s treatment.
- Identify what cognitive improvement/decline the student has experienced.
- Review what kinds of therapies/services (i.e. speech, occupational therapy, physical therapy, cognitive therapy, counseling, etc.) the student has received.
- Identify all areas of deficits: vision, seizures, hearing, medical, communication, cognitive, fine and gross motor, emotional, behavioral, comprehension, psychiatric, functional limitations, etc.
- Define the student’s behavioral and academic needs.
- Determine what state accommodations/modifications are in place for academic as well as for extra-curricular activities.
- Identify the assistive technology the student was using and discuss transfer of the devices if necessary.
- Establish a plan to determine medical benchmarks/medical milestones.
- Determine if any evaluations or re-evaluations are needed for the student (e.g. special education evaluation, section 504)
- Identify the community resources (CRCG) and support groups that are available to assist the student and the student’s family.
What are the crucial considerations a school should explore in developing a plan for a student’s return to school following a traumatic brain injury? It is important that schools be well prepared for a student’s return to class following a traumatic brain injury. There are crucial considerations to explore in the areas of information sharing, staff training and family support.
I. Information Sharing
- Establish a school team (LSSP/educational diagnostician, special education teacher, general education teacher, school counselor, administrator, school nurse, occupational therapist, physical therapist, speech pathologist, or any other related service providers) for decision making. Include the student on the team whenever possible.
- Secure parental permission to release confidential medical information to the team that would be helpful in supporting the student’s return to school.
- Request/review all reports/evaluations as they become available from the facility.
- Review existing plan/schedule of current placement and information from the facility.
- Translate medical and treatment information to school language, i.e., ensure that medical/treatment information is in language easily understood by school personnel.
- Share information with school staff as needed.
- Obtain all facility records from hospital, cognitive rehabilitation, facility placements, etc.
- Determine need for additional services and/or evaluations; be sure to invite facility representatives to any ARD or Section 504 meetings, as applicable.
II. Training Activities
- Train all school staff who have interactions with the student, include information about the unique characteristics of TBI and the types of strategies that are effective with students with TBI.
- Follow training with a facilitated discussion to identify the types of instruction and interventions that will be most successful for the individual student.
- Utilize the Education Service Center (ESC) as a resource for additional information and training: Education Service Center (ESC) Technical Assistance.
- Utilize the Office of Acquired Brain Injury: Office of Acquired Brain Injury as a resource for additional information.
- Support school staff by providing training time and resources necessary to differentiate instruction and develop interventions.
- Inform and support peers insofar as is allowable under Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA).
III. Family Support
- Help family members understand educational language and issues.
- Ensure parent has an understanding of the special education referral process: Parental Request for Evaluation Flowchart.
- Support family members through the grieving process.
- Assist in the identification of community resources and support groups and share information with the family.
REMEMBER: The keys to successful transitions for students with TBI are the support, understanding, and acceptance by the student’s family, school, and other significant parties.