Those with learning differences due to acquired brain injuries can use a variety of compensatory strategies to improve their performance. Often the greatest hurdle is coming to terms with the changes as on-going rather than "curable." Beneficial strategies may involve the consistent use of memory devices (calendar notebooks, note taking systems, etc.) and learning enhancement procedures (such as multiple encoding or mnemonics). Many of the approaches used by those with lifelong learning disabilities can also be useful with some of these types of acquired problems. Santa Monica College has developed the Acquired Brain Injury Program to address the unique challenges of this type of disability.
Common Needs for Students With Head Injuries
Structure - Survivors of recent injuries often do not organize well. Returning to, or entering, school may provide a routine in which to practice organization skills.
Reduced Demands - Routines may need to be slowed down and modified to create a manageable work load. Reducing demands on the student with a head injury may involve substituting a less demanding classes, altering response modes (such as oral vs. written responses), providing audio books, recording lectures, and/or providing extended time on exams, and other support services. The students may need a reduced course load, or classes that meet for shorter periods of time with content spread over more weeks of instruction, and should be encouraged to enroll in a study skill refresher courses.
Intervention - The poor judgment and memory problems of a student with a head injury may make supplemental instruction a necessary ingredient of the educational program. For the student, this could take the form of a planning and monitoring system which requires the ABI Specialist and the student to plan together, set goals and report and evaluate progress. With head injuries, these students are often not conspicuous before they begin to have serious educational problems, possibly misjudging their own problems. The head injury may make the student unable to assess the need for help without direct intervention.