Student Support

Educational Implications for Students with ABI


Strategies to Improve Performance

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:

  • Consistent use of memory devices, like calendar notebooks, notetaking systems, and other tools.

  • Learning enhancement procedures, like multiple encoding methods or spaced retrieval.

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


Survivors of recent injuries often do not organize well. Returning to, or entering, the school may provide an arena in which to practice organization skills, but those students may require assistance in setting up specific routines or schedules.

Reduced Demands

Daily tasks and instruction may need to be slowed down, and modified to create a manageable workload.

Reducing demands on the student with a head injury may involve substituting less rigorous classes, altering response modes (such as oral vs. written responses), providing audiobooks, recording lectures, and/or providing extended time on exams as well as other support services. The students may need a reduced course load or classes that meet for longer periods of time with content spread over more weeks of instruction.


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 and the extent of their deficits. The head injury may make the student unable to assess the need for help without direct intervention.

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