Children who develop behavioral problems and personality changes following brain injury can have great difficulty in their return to school, peers and family. Parents report that behavior management problems are more difficult for them to cope with than the physical and cognitive changes related to their child’s brain injury. Similarly, teachers report that the problem behaviors demonstrated by a student with a brain injury exceed their resources and even the expertise available within the school’s special education program. While many children with brain injury will make great strides in their recovery, behavior problems can inhibit social role return in the classroom and within family life.
Catherine Dodds and Rebecca Swift-Weir are two educators who have devoted their careers to working with children with brain injuries. Recently they wrote an excellent workbook for educators, “Unlocking the Myths: Keys to Success, Effective Behavioral Strategies for Children With Acquired Brain Injury.”
Dodds and Swift-Weir take the approach that most behavioral problems are caused by cognitive impairments, such as: attention, language problems, memory deficits and the child’s lack of understanding of their injury and related problems. Strategies which rely on contingency management often fail with children due to their cognitive problems. As Dodds and Swift-Weir point out, children with brain injury can fail to remember simple rules from minute-to-minute, yet are often expected to understand and anticipate the consequence of their behavior. Drawing on the research and applied strategies pioneered by Mark Yvilsacker and Ron Savage, Dodds and Swift-Weir offer practical solutions for the classroom teacher, parents and other professionals. Ms. Dodds is the School Re-Entry Coordinator with NRIO in Toronto and Ms. Swift-Weir is an Educational Specialist withBrain Injury Services of Simcoe County in Barrie, Ontario.
Their workbook is available for purchase through Brain Injury Services of Simcoe County. It is a tremendous tool for the education and rehabilitation professionals and the parents of a child who has developed severely disruptive behavior following a brain injury. In addition to the workbook they are presenting workshops in the greater Toronto area which offer practical and innovative solutions to treating children with behavioral problems.