Tip #1: Consult With The Experts
Assessing a student who has suffered a traumatic brain injury can be a unique and complex process, especially since many of these students have never received special education. How can school psychs be more prepared to complete a thorough evaluation? One way is to connect with your school nurse and a local school neuropsychologist (if you have one) to better understand the student’s medical condition. Obtaining release forms and contacting medical professionals involved in the student’s treatment can also be beneficial. Standardized testing may have been administered after the traumatic brain injury by others and sometimes repeated throughout the rehabilitation process. This data is valuable and needs to be considered when determining eligibility. Let’s look closely at two additional tips to help you feel prepared to complete an in-depth traumatic brain injury assessment. If you are interested in watching a replay of the live recording where I discuss these tips, please click here.
Tip #2: Choosing Assessment Tools and Understanding Changes in the Brain
We all have our favorite “go-to” test kit we use when assessing a student. However, when assessing for a traumatic brain injury, school psychs must do a little homework before administering test batteries to ensure the most appropriate tool is being utilized when determining what the student’s needs are. Students with traumatic brain injuries may require additional testing and more frequent IEP meetings after they have been found eligible because there can be frequent changes in their needs, skills, and abilities post-injury. School psychs need to be clear with the IEP team that regular check-ins with the student and teachers may be necessary.
Tip #3: Executive Functioning Skills and Abilities
Traumatic brain injuries can cause frontal lobe damage, which houses many of our executive functioning abilities. Did you know there are informal executive functioning questionnaires in the book Executive Functioning Skills in Children and Adolescents written by Peg Dawson and Richard Guare? These can be used when identifying student strengths and weaknesses and during the student interview process to gather additional information. Another bonus tip to keep in mind: certain executive functioning skills develop later in a child’s life such as metacognition. It is important that school psychs understand those traumatic brain injuries occurring early in life may not affect some executive functioning skills until the child is older.
The Prepared School Psychologist (PSP) community focuses on helping support school psychologists in their work with children, teachers, families, and colleagues. Right now is a fantastic time to join! Did you know the Prepared School Psychologist membership site has resources geared specifically toward Traumatic Brain Injuries? Check out our new RIOT document which explains the school psychologist’s role in the evaluation process, has sample parent and teacher interview questions, specific behaviors to look for during observations, and much more! And the best part is we are releasing a new RIOT document each month during this school year! Join now to have immediate access to previously released RIOT documents that cover Specific Learning Disability, Other Health Impairments, Emotional Disturbance, Autism, and more! Click on the link below to begin your journey as a prepared school psychologist!