Fitting back in: adolescents returning to school after severe acquired brain injury
Purpose. To explore the experiences of Australian adolescents with severe acquired brain injury (ABI) and their families as the adolescent returned to school. In particular, to understand the influence of services and support on the school return. Method. In-depth interviews conducted over a two-year period with families who had an adolescent with a recent severe ABI (mean age 15 years, 11 months) analysed using a grounded theory approach. Results. Two critical phases for adolescents returning to school post ABI were identified: organizing the school return and being back at school. Experience in these phases was influenced by length of school absence, extent of noticeable and hidden problems and school response to the students’ return post injury. The central concept characterizing experience was the challenge of fitting back in. Some adolescents fitted back in adequately and continued school participation. Those that did not fit in tried again by revisiting the organizing phase, re-evaluated their school experience and either continued or left school. Conclusions. Adolescents with ABI faced the challenge of fitting back in when they returned to school. This was either facilitated or hindered by the extent and quality of organization, communication and support from parents, schoolteachers and the rehabilitation team. Keywords: Acquired brain injury, adolescents, education
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