What are some effective teaching strategies for students with emotional and behavioral impairments caused by traumatic brain injury?

Expert Answers
M.P. Ossa eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The big difference between teaching students with learning impairments versus teaching students with TBI is that the latter are victims of trauma due to illness, accidents, or other sudden life changing events. As a result, these students may have to re-learn to live life as they now know it, adding frustration and stress on both the student and the family.

The main issues that arise from TBI are 

  • attention 
  • focus
  • memory
  • motivation
  • organization skills
  • following directions

Since each student is ultimately responsible for his or her own learning experience (we are merely the expert facilitators), motivation should be the first factor to work with. 

First, always work backwards. Show the student the outcome of acquiring a new skill PRIOR to introducing the process. By learning the goal first, the student may demonstrate more motivation to learn. 


attention- present your lesson as simplistically and less decorated as possible. Break everything into quick and easy steps to a process and follow it loyally every time to create anticipation, prediction and long term memory learning. Take away all environmental distractors such as unnecessary pictures, noises, or objects.

focus- consistently point out to the student why we are working on the skill and continuously repeat the skill by name or by standard as required in your district.

memory- using relevant visuals continuously connect picture cues to meaning, sound to symbol, and scenarios to relevant life-like examples. Engage in continuous conversation to clarify any confusions that may block or confuse the message intended to be committed to memory. 

organization skills- use lists, checklists, diagrams, pictures, timelines, sequence cards and self-monitoring charts to instill prediction skills and to make stronger correlations.

following directions- making directions simple will make the student more prone to follow them when they become more complex since the basic premise of notion/function is already achieved. 

Overall, when all of these strategies are applied the chances for students to succeed are higher, thus improving their behavior and their overall emotional acumen. 

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