Only those willing to go too far will know how far they can go.

About

At the age of 16, I was a passenger in a one car accident and sustained a severe traumatic brain injury (TBI) two days before my junior year in high school. The seatbelt I was wearing saved my life, but unfortunately because of the impact of the crash, my head turned faster than my brain could keep up and my brainstem twisted and stretched, causing diffused injury. I was lucky that I did not break my neck. However, the right hemisphere of my brain hit the inside of my skull and I immediately went into coma. At the scene of the accident, I had a post-traumatic seizure and was Life-Flighted to Allegheny General Hospital in Pittsburgh, PA.  I was comatose for 6 weeks. The doctors’ prognosis was that I would be bedridden for life and there was not much chance of any significant recovery. The doctor’s also said that should I recover enough to return to high school, it was highly unlikely that I would graduate without major assistance and higher education was out of the question.

Prior to my injury, I was an honors student with a 4.0 GPA. I returned back to high school the middle of my junior year. While I received speech and physical therapy in school, I did not get the appropriate educational assistance to help in my in my cognitive recovery. There was a lack of information, a lot of confusion, and continuous disagreements regarding my cognitive capabilities. Ultimately, decisions were made and not made that greatly influenced the direction, or lack of direction, of my high school education. I was placed in two learning disabled classes, which in hind-sight were a joke. I was dummied down from honors classes into lower level classes where I was ignored by my teachers. The school was not informed or equipped to provide a student with brain injury access to an appropriate education. My high school never had a student with a diagnosed TBI; I was the first.

Regardless of my TBI and because of my previous academic achievements, I graduated in the top 10% of my class and went on to attend West Virginia Wesleyan College (WVWC) where I majored in Sociology with a minor in English. I chose this college because of its outstanding Disability Support Services. My learning specialist at WVWC worked with me one on one and helped me achieve the appropriate cognitive level.

Since graduating from college, I have a Master’s in Literary and Technical Writing from DePaul University, a Master’s in Transition Special Education with an emphasis in acquired brain injury from the George Washington University and a Doctorate in Special Education with a concentration in brain injury also from the George Washington University.

These are my accomplishments. Who I am as a person, my determination, and the love and support provided by my family greatly influenced what I have been able to accomplish. Not all children have that. Even though I was able to succeed in my educational endeavors despite my injury, does not mean all children will be as fortunate.

Because of my personal experience with living with a TBI, my educational pursuits and professional endeavors have been focused on becoming a brain injury education specialist. I have dedicated my life to advocating for the services and supports for children and individuals with brain injury. It is important that the general public understand how a person’s life dramatically changes after brain injury and the never-ending struggles that go hand-in-hand with it.

A lot can be gained through awareness, knowledge, and with the dissemination of information to the general public. Through this website, I hope a dialogue begins aimed at understanding and addressing the epidemic of brain injury. Brain injury does not discriminate.

For more information on the services provided through ABI Education Services, LLC follow this link: www.ABI-EdServices.com

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