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Inclusive Education for Students With Diverse Needs

Background Information

In this case study, a 13-year-old junior high student, Ashley, has recently suffered a traumatic brain injury from an accident prompting four months of treatment and six months of rehabilitation in a University hospital. This has affected Ashley’s academic performance, dropping from an honors student and active sports enthusiast to walking with a cane and managing lower grades. The brain injury has also resulted in physical and social changes, and she feels tired frequently, struggles to remember, and gets emotional easily during social interactions. These challenges have made her avoid outdoor activities, and she prefers to remain confined to her home. Ashley requires extra support in the classroom and beyond to help her regain her excellent academic and extracurricular potential.


TBIs among students are a life-changing event that results in learning difficulties that require new teaching interventions and a special class environment. For Ashley, a traumatic brain injury has dwindled her academic and physical capabilities to participate actively in sports and academic activities. Students’ inability to pay attention for prolonged hours is a common hurdle to normal learning since they get distracted and stop listening to the teacher. TBI also results in reading, writing, and listening problems undermining students’ comprehension of learning materials. Memory and organization challenges affect the students’ ability to retain crucial learning information, and prioritize, plan, and sequence information and activities.

Traumatic brain injuries are associated with hypersensitivities like heightened sounds and lights make it difficult for learners to settle in the normal classroom environment. Speech is critical in learning engagement allowing teachers and students to engage in a common language critical for internalizing new information. Speech and language disorders vary depending on the magnitude of the brain injury preventing the students from demonstrating their academic potential through normal classroom approaches. Cognitive functions get severely impaired with TBI cases affecting learning capabilities and execution of basic tasks. Brain injuries can result from two main causes; external events causing injuries like blunt force trauma or an object intruding the brain. The second cause is internally generated through brain tumors, and interaction with toxins leading to brain damage, hypoxia, cerebral vascular complications and brain infections. Regardless of the cause, TBIs change a person’s ability to function normally, prompting prolonged medical care ranging between months to years before a patient can manage a few motor and cognitive functions.

. Brain trauma also affects motor functions like walking, sitting and grabbing things meaning learners require support throughout the learning session since they might not manage writing, speaking and prolonged sitting. TBI patients are often impulsive and susceptible to overstimulation resulting in behavioral change, which affects their social skills and their ability to excel in extracurricular activities.

Prevalence of Traumatic Brain Injuries (TBI)

Traumatic brain injuries are common among teenagers and students resulting from accidents and injuries during contact sports. TBIs among school going children originate from their childhood and persist through their adult life unless properly addressed. The CDC estimates that 30% of TBIs recorded annually occur among school going children and adolescents. This increasing population comes with special learning needs that require the education system to reevaluate instruction strategies leading to an accommodating class environment. TBI student’s needs and characteristics vary depending on the severity and nature of injury, whether external or internal, with common attributes including social changes, learning difficulties, behavior change, and physical disability.

TBI student’s needs follow in the nature of the resultant impairment ranging from physical to psychological support. Recovery from a TBI takes time under expert care meaning the patients undergo rigorous treatment and rehabilitation, and schools need to develop the capacity to monitor and offer medical interventions along teaching strategies. Incorporating medical support helps manage severe symptoms and prevent undesirable outcomes like overstimulation or distraction. These students require academic programs that accommodate their learning disabilities including frequent breaks, writing and reading assistance, and adequate time when taking tests. The school must provide social support interventions that improve their interpersonal and socialization abilities to form bonds with abled students and manage emotional overload. Mental health strategies are also key in creating a suitable environment to help these students to cope and increase awareness among teachers and other students through counselling and behavioral change initiatives.

Evidence-based Analysis of the Diverse Needs

Researchers have given increased attention to Traumatic Head Injuries among teenagers and school going children since formal education is the pillar of modern society that shapes future generations. schools have continued to improve their preparedness through return to school models that allow students affected by TBIs to rejoin their academic path and excel. However, educators remain undertrained in key skills for a multifaceted approach to support students with varying effects of TBIs. Injury to a developing brain whether mild or severe results in social, cognitive and behavioral problems that undermine learning (Anderson et al., 2021). TBI can result in increased school absenteeism, social isolation and reduced academic excellence affecting the overall quality of life. Barriers to reintegration include the lack of adequate information for parents and teachers enabling them to understand how to support children with TBIs, unfamiliarity with the benefits of support to the children, parents and teachers (Gómez-de-Regil et al., 2019). Besides, some parents shy from follow-up medical care after a TBI with poor information flow between schools and healthcare facilities.

TBI limits one’s ability to participate in physical activities, yet it is the best recovery strategy for improving cognitive, social and behavioral problems. Research on the importance of physical activities in improving healthcare outcomes for people with mild to severe brain trauma indicates that integration of physical exercise in clinical approaches has positive outcomes (Johnson et al., 2023). There are several benefits of physical activity; first, it decreases susceptibility to chronic illness and health conditions common among disabled individuals. Secondly, physical exercise improves cognition, the quality of life and one’s mood resulting in improved health outcomes. However, delivering physical exercise to students/people with TBI is complicated since they are mostly immobile or physically limited. The lack of physical activity is one of the leading causes of death and increased medical costs, especially among those with moderate and severe TBI (Johnson et al., 2023). Therefore, healthcare guidelines should target providing healthcare strategies for cardiovascular, physical, cognitive and quality of life improvement to overcome fatalities during recovery due to chronic diseases.

Psychological interventions are a key approach in addressing TBI patients need for social and cognitive support enhancing learning outcomes among students. The disruption of normal brain functioning results in frequent/persistent memory loss, amnesia, motor challenges and loss of consciousness (Stephens et al., 2015). Some physical impacts associated with TBI despite medical stability include chronic headaches, visual sensitivity, fatigue and speech limitations. Important cognitive capabilities like memory, concentration and attention decline further besides severe emotional symptoms like depression and anxiety among students and children with traumatic brain injuries (Stephens et al., 2015). Psychological interventions covered by researchers include psychotherapy, pharmacotherapy, and cognitive rehabilitation with varying results depending on the severity of the trauma. Psychological interventions improve cognitive and behavioral challenges enhancing the patient’s ability to cope, becoming less aggressive, irritable, impulsive, becoming more attentive, empathetic among other desirable social qualities.

Inclusive Education Plan Development

An inclusive education plan for students with TBIs must address their main academic, cognitive and social needs. First, these students need support in reading, writing and speaking depending on the magnitude of the trauma. Secondly, students might be unable to concentrate for long hours without frequent bathroom breaks or change of scenery. Third, they require individualized assistance which are time consuming but effective to meet their specific learning needs. Besides, they need assistance organizing their academic material and adequate time completing tasks (Anderson et al., 2021). Finally, students need to understand their medical and psychosocial requirements allowing integrating them in delivery of learning content, social and physical support. Schools should make strides toward involving them in physical activities to improve their cardiovascular wellness, lighten their mood and enhance their social skills.

  • Curriculum and instruction strategies

Teachers are required to offer sufficient time and attention to students affected by TBI since they have difficulties processing and comprehending information. Therefore, the use of organization materials through a robust checklist, schedule and notebook enhances their class room adaptation. Teachers should also allow short breaks to keep the students continually focused and comfortable improving learning outcomes. Researchers reiterate the need to break down assignments into smaller manageable units with teachers trained in offering oral, reading and writing assistance.

  • Two classroom adaptations

Ashley should be afforded adequate time when taking tests unlike other fully abled students with close assistance to enhance her comprehension (Gómez-de-Regil et al., 2019). Students like Ashley should receive assistance recording and evaluating learning materials extensively to internalize the information better.

  • Two accommodation strategies

Teachers should develop clear teaching objectives that allow students to track and develop meaning and comprehend the information effectively. TBI also results in visual and oral limitations hence the need for visual and verbal aids and cues to communicate more effectively (Anderson et al., 2021). Simplifying the instruction materials reduces the amount of information to be processed, preventing overburdening the students and leading to negative psychological outcomes like anxiety.


The prevalence of traumatic brain injuries (TBI) among children and adolescents requires collaborative efforts between parents, teachers and affected students to improve their academic outcomes. These students face tough physical, social and cognitive adaptation challenges after treatment requiring physical support to move around and perform basic tasks. There are various interventions like cognitive rehabilitation developed to help TBI patients to cope and recover from severe post-recovery complications that result in chronic illness. An inclusive education program through accommodating classroom and accommodation strategies is vital in delivering special needs education to students with TBI. These students need patience from teachers as their attention, memory, writing and linguistic capabilities. For the case study in consideration, Ashley is facing return to school hurdles affecting her academic and physical capabilities. However, with a personalized learning environment and effective accommodating in the classroom, she will slowly improve and regain her confidence resulting in better academic performance.


Anderson, D., Gau, J. M., Beck, L., Unruh, D., Gioia, G., McCart, M., Davies, S. C., Slocumb, J., Gomez, D., & Glang, A. E. (2021). Management of return to school following brain injury: An evaluation model. International Journal of Educational Research108, 101773.

Gómez-de-Regil, L., Estrella-Castillo, D. F., & Vega-Cauich, J. (2019). Psychological Intervention in Traumatic Brain Injury Patients. Behavioural Neurology2019, 1–8.

Johnson, L., Williams, G., Sherrington, C., Pilli, K., Chagpar, S., Auchettl, A., Beard, J., Gill, R., Vassallo, G., Rushworth, N., Tweedy, S., Simpson, G., Scheinberg, A., Clanchy, K., Tiedemann, A., & Hassett, L. (2023). The effect of physical activity on health outcomes in people with moderate-to-severe traumatic brain injury: a rapid systematic review with meta-analysis. BMC Public Health23(1).

Stephens, J. A., Williamson, K.-N. C., & Berryhill, M. E. (2015). Cognitive Rehabilitation After Traumatic Brain Injury. OTJR: Occupation, Participation and Health35(1), 5–22.


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