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When your child goes to school after an injury.

The following is an excerpt from When Your Child Goes to School After an Injury, [C] 1992, Exceptional Parent, 1170 Commonwealth Ave., Boston, Mass. 02134, (800)742-4403. To order see ad page 46.


When a child is injured, everyone in the family is affected. Each member reacts differently. It is impossible to fully prepare a family for the future. After talking to many families with children who had been injured, certain reactions and experiences were often repeated.

This guide will help families prepare for their child's entry or return to school after a serious injury. It was written after meeting with many families and teachers. Some families reported very positive experiences with teachers and school staff. The methods they used are described. Other families said that their child's return to school was complicated due to missing information, false hopes and expectations, and poor planning and coordination. In these instances, families and teachers can work together to improve and correct the situation by using the suggestions in this guide.

Despite the common goal of helping your child, the medical and educational communities do not understand each other very well. They also are not used to working together. The family is most often the connecting link between them. This guide is designed to help families plan and prepare for that role by giving practical suggestions that are based on the experiences of other families and their children. Expectations and Reactions

The expectations and reactions of family, teachers, staff and friends will greatly influence your child's adjustment and acceptance at school. Leaving the hospital, going home and returning to school are major signs of progress. Children often return to school for shorter days until they are stronger. When absence from school was due to illness in the past, returning was a sign of wellness. Going back after a serious injury is very different.

Injuries that result in a disability may require special services; it does not mean your child is sick. A disability means that your child has lost some abilities in specific areas. These losses may be the result of damage to the brain, spinal cord, muscles, bones, nerves or internal organs.

While your child's stay in the hospital was emotionally upsetting and even physically painful at times, it did provide a safe and necessary setting for medical care. Schools also provide a safe and protective place for children, but their purpose is education, not rehabilitation. It is often hard to separate the two in cases of severe injury because children's rehabilitation and educational needs may overlap.

Hospitals, rehabilitation centers and schools are very different. Problems commonly develop when children move from one to the other. Frustration, anger and accusations between parents, schools and hospitals are frequent responses.

How will school be different now?

The main question is, "How will this condition affect my child's ability to learn and attend school?" Medical and educational needs are different. This often causes confusion about what is needed, who provides it, and who pays for it.

Each child will react to and recover differently from an injury. Certain types of injuries, however, result in common difficulties. This guide focuses on children whose injuries have caused: problems with memory and learning; difficulties with speech and language; problems breathing; changes in emotions and behaviors; or paralysis or weakness. By focusing on the changes caused by injuries instead of the specific diagnosis, this guide will apply to many children. There is, however, one chapter on traumatic brain injury because it results in some unique differences. It is important that your child's physician and other health care professionals talk over your child's individual situation and needs with you in detail, using terms you understand.

Many parents have been concerned when teachers instructed their injured child with materials and methods that are also used for students with mental retardation, emotional disorders or learning disabilities. Children with different diagnoses share some difficulties and needs. However, when the school's staff does not understand the differences between these conditions and treat all children alike, there is cause for concern. Communication is the key to understanding what is happening and why. Knowledge is power. The more you learn about your child's condition and the rights available to your child under the laws of special education, the more you will be able to act effectively for your child.
COPYRIGHT 1992 EP Global Communications, Inc.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1992 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:book excerpt
Author:Lash, Marilyn
Publication:The Exceptional Parent
Date:Oct 1, 1992
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