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Working with non-verbal TBI

Discussion in 'Special educational needs' started by Tinkerbell502, Jan 2, 2018.

  1. Tinkerbell502

    Tinkerbell502 New commenter

    Hi and Happy New Year to everyone.

    It's been a while since I posted anything in the Forum; I've always been pleased to help others, but now I find myself in need of advice and support.

    I've been asked to join a team of professionals supporting a 9 year old girl with a TBI, at home. She suffered her brain injury three years ago, was placed inappropriately in a Special School until quite recently and has undergone an in depth cognitive assessment with an EP. This has established that the child is more able than was suspected, but she is non-verbal and communicates using eye-gaze and an E-Trans. She has significant physical mobility issues too.

    I haven't seen the EP's report yet, but I understand that there are further assessments to be carried out before the final report is available.

    I'm meeting the child for the first time tomorrow, at her home, where I will be delivering a home education package for three days a week in the very near future - once I know what she needs.

    It's going to be a steep learning curve for me and I'm okay with that. I have 30 years teaching experience, including specialist tuition for children with specific learning difficulties, but I do feel ill-prepared for something like this. Having met the Case Worker, the girl's mum and one of the Support Teachers/Therapists, they are keen for me to be involved, so I am going to give it my best shot.

    I'm meeting the EP on Friday and hope to start putting together the outline of a daily 2 hour programme of basic skills for three days a week during term-time, with the intention that the team will continue to deliver the programme when I am not there.

    I'd be grateful for any advice and help from the TES Community.
    I anticipate asking for quite a lot of advice and help to begin with.

    I've picked up a lot of information online and perhaps things will fall into place more easily than I anticipate, but until I assess how we will communicate with each other meaningfully, I anticipate there will be a lot of trial and error until I learn to interpret her responses.

    Thanks in advance.
    Flanks likes this.
  2. Flanks

    Flanks Senior commenter

    No advice from me, how could there be, it is something very rare!

    As always, trust yourself, avoid working in isolation and try to take time to talk with someone about your work, let your past experience and intuition guide you and remain reflective.

    Good chance the girl will be able to help, so make sure you focus on developing communication with her first and always keep improving it. Try to avoid funding a system and sticking to it (such as cue cards with eye gaze) because this will limit her opportunities.

    Good luck!
  3. Tinkerbell502

    Tinkerbell502 New commenter

    Thank you so much for your reply.
    I've worked very briefly (only a matter of weeks) with a child with non-verbal, ASD/ complex learning needs and wish i had had more time to learn about strategies, and I've taught a girl, for a year or so, who was an elective mute with dyslexia.
    But this is new territory. Fascinating and a bit scary until I actually meet her.
    I'm convinced that you're right- reciprocal communication has to be the key, first and foremost.
    I definitely want to expand every possibility that I can to find ways for her to communicate,

    I will have to be as confident as I can about admitting that I don't know what to do if the situation arises, but I'll do whatever it takes to find a way.
    So far, eye gaze with an E-Trans is all they have been able to use, but she is frustrated, I suspect, because she is more able than the medical and educational professionals thought. It was her mother who was convinced that her daughter was 'reading' or at least showing awareness of words. The EP, brought in to assess her, vindicated Mum's views and she was removed from the Special School that she's been attending. I know the Head Teacher of the Special school and he agreed that his school was not the appropriate social or educational setting for this young girl.

    So now, she has a team of 11 being put together to support her holistically at home for the foreseeable future and I'm going to find out if I can be a useful member of that team and develop/support her learning.
  4. circuskevin

    circuskevin Established commenter

    Hi 'Tinkerbell',

    I have all sorts of unusual equipment which works very well with special needs kids.

    There is a good chance some will help this child with physical mobility issues.

    Feel free to give us ring. If you happen to be in Birmingham anytime you are welcome to knock on my door and I shall show you all of it.

    I wrote to David Cameron once explaining that special schools should buy the sort of equipment I use. Headteachers are so behind the times in utilising what is currently available to improve the lives of these kids.

  5. Tinkerbell502

    Tinkerbell502 New commenter

    I will certainly be in touch, Kevin.

    The young girl has a Tobii Talker and a sophisticated electric chair.

    Talking to the lead staff, they work on the understanding that she understands everything she hears. She can demonstrate choices visually and with physical support she can indicate with her right hand, but her control is very erratic.

    I made a positive start with her today and engaged her attention with a story. The staff had not been able to do this very successfully before because they may have underestimated her cognitive ability and interest and had chosen books that were too simple.

    I brought a picture book abridged version of Alice In Wonderland and it turned out to be just right.

    As I get to know her capabilities, I will be exploring every avenue available to expand our communication.

    I know it will be a very steep learning curve and calling on the expertise and experience of practitioners will feature prominently.

    Thank you very much for your message here.

    Best wishes
  6. circuskevin

    circuskevin Established commenter

    Hi Julie,

    She probably hasn't got the physical capabilities from what you are saying to benefit from the type of work I do.

    Nice to see you treating her as intelligent.

    I met a midget in one of these electric chairs at a SLD/PMLD secondary school before xmas. He had to sit between the teachers legs to be propelled around on the whirl-o-wheel for example. Couldn't really do stuff by himself.

    I showed him a magic trick. He loved it. He wanted another. Ended up following me around to see more and more. I would vanish a coin and find it behind his ear. He then expected me to vanish my mobile phone! He struck me as too intelligent for this type of school. His physical limitations had probably lumbered him with it.

    Keep this group posted on your progress with your girl.

  7. Tinkerbell502

    Tinkerbell502 New commenter

    Hi to everyone
    Much to my disappointment, I was unable to continue with the education package for this young girl. A conflict of professional opinions and maybe asking too many questions that no one wanted to answer. Thanks to everyone who took the time and trouble to message me.

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