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Brain Injury awareness & schools

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Brain Injury awareness & schools

A brain injury is often called the invisible disability and this is particularly the case in the education system.

Children with brain injuries often have complex and pervading difficulties for many years, regardless of wether the cause was a  brain tumour, traumatic brain injury (TBI), meningitis or encephalitis. 


The difficulty recognizing problems associated with brain injuries is that they are not always visible. Symptoms such as moodiness, forgetfulness, lethargy, aggression and inappropriate behaviour can easily be dismissed as a sign of puberty or poor attitude, rather than a sign that the brain has been injured. 


The task of diagnosis is made more difficult when we consider that students with a brain injury may not attribute their difficulties to the injury. The complications and difficulties that arise are varied and may range from hidden cognitive disabilities, such as short-term memory loss, loss of planning and organizational skills, through to physical disabilities such as fatigue, paralysis, hearing and sight loss. 


Brain injury overlooked in schools

There are three main reasons that children with a traumatic brain injury or other brain disorder are being overlooked in the school systems. Most educational systems do not have:

  • A specific assessment category for children with a brain injury
  • Interdisciplinary integrating policies
  • Professional expertise in brain injury in school support units.


Policy makers in government expect models of support suitable for other people with a disability to be suitable for students with a brain injury but their support needs are usually very different to other disabilities. 


The majority of State education systems have no specific category for brain injury although they do for other types of disabilities such as intellectual disabilities, autism and visual impairments. Children with a brain injury may either fail to be classified as needing support at all, or they may fall across a number of criteria but only have low needs on each criterion.


There is no recognized centralized body of experts in the education system, and it's unlikely there will be improvements in resources, networking, management techniques and support systems when there is no recognition of brain injuries within the school system. 


It is unlikely that many of these children will come to the attention of the services of the education system, certainly not without a proactive approach including education and awareness training of teaching staff.


Many young people who have not been linked with school-based support services or allied health consultation services have reported that:

  • Their teachers have not understood them or their needs
  • They have experienced bullying and discrimination
  • Their resulting distress has been so great that they have wanted to leave school.


It would appear that those responsible for the education of our children are yet to be educated on the needs of this very special group.



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