Assessment of the educational needs and services for adolescents with traumatic brain injury : the parents' view




Moulton, Lynn Rozelle

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This study utilized a mail questionnaire to survey the views of parents residing in Texas regarding the educational needs of their adolescent (ages 14-18) with traumatic brain injury (TBI). Of the 233 parents of adolescents who were reported by hospitals as recently acquitting a TBI (in 1997, 1998, or 1999) of any level severity, 79 (34%) parents responded from across the state. Surprisingly, over half (N=41) of the parents responded by indicating that their adolescent did not have a TBI. This would suggest that the attending medical professionals might not have informed the parents of the long-term effects of a mild TBI. Twenty-five parents responded to the survey and rated psychology-related and transition-related services as the most needed special education and related services for their adolescent. Services were received by 40% of the adolescents, many under categories other than TBI, and the services most frequently received as a result of the TBI were: individualized academic instruction, homebound educational services, and occupational therapy. Of the parents whose adolescent did not receive services, and occupational therapy. OF the parents whose adolescent did not receive services, 44% felt their adolescent had unmet educational needs. Parents rated the following factors as the most critical to their adolescents’ educational needs being met: level of communication between the parent and the school, the school’s flexibility with the adolescent’s rapidly changing abilities and educational needs, the sensitivity of the educator to changes int eh adolescent and family’s daily lives stemming from the TBI, the educator taking an active role in helping the child socially re-adjust, and level of communication among the educators. The findings of this study illuminate the parents’ view of special education and related service needs for adolescents with TBI. In 1990, TBI became recognized as a category under which students may be eligible to receive special education and related services as stated in the individuals with Disabilities Act (IDEA). However, this study’s findings reflect that, at least in the parents’ perspective, many adolescents still have unmet educational needs and the needed services are lacking.