Changes in Thinking and Behavior

Your child's physical recovery may have been rapid, but just because your child has left the hospital it does not mean that his brain has fully recovered. Changes in thinking abilities and behavior are common among children with traumatic brain injury. Ask the hospital staff to discuss changes in your child's thinking abilities and behavior with you and your family. Ask how your child's thinking abilities and behavior may change in the future. Also ask the staff to give you a list of suggestions and strategies to cope with the changes that have occurred.

Checklist for handling behavioral changes

— Be instructed in how to manage difficult behaviors.

— Know the triggers or things that upset your child and how to respond.

— Know who to call and what to do in case you can't handle your child's behaviors.

— Set rules about use of drugs and alcohol.

— Check to see if you child is allowed to drive.

Checklist for handling changes in thinking abilities

— Slow down conversations.

— Orient your child frequently.

— Assist your child by initiating activities and/or posting lists of the steps to complete an activity.

— Help your child plan and carry out activities using a daily "planner".

Your child's friends will want to visit and renew friendships. Before your child returns home, meet with his friends and classmates to prepare them for changes in behavior. Give them suggestions about what they can do to help their friend readjust to school and community. Ask the teacher to read books to the class about brain injury so that classmates know what to expect. For more information about changes that your child may experience, see Coping with New Behaviors in Your Child. There is a list of books you can share with your child's friends and classmates.