Posted on September 19, 2011 · Posted in TBI Voices
This entry is part 16 of 24 in the series Nancy

Teen Years After Severe Brain Injury: Nancy Part Sixteen 

I talked to Nancy’s mom about her teen years after severe brain injury and the difference of maturity level of Nancy and other kids her age.

Nancy is 18 now?


Do you feel like she’s stuck or is she maturing just at a slower rate in her teen years after severe brain injury?

I think she’s maturing at a slower rate because she has been exposed to different school to work programs where it’s all different jobs whether it’s with the public or not.  I think she gets along well with the new people that she meets, the employers and the jobs that she has to adjust to.

I just think that really it’s those uncomfortable situations is where she is over the top.  Even uncomfortable when we all have family parties and all the family shows up at the same time and then the noise increases and she hasn’t see so and so for a while and she’s so excited.  It’s always over the top, you know.  So I don’t know how that’s going to be adjusted.

In many ways a grown up girl.  What was it like for her teen years after severe brain injury and go through adolescence with this injury and these problems?

Ah, she’s very behind schedule I think socially and not so much mentally.  She can still do quite a bit with the school books which we were told she’d never be able to understand – she wouldn’t be able to do the learning.  So to test that I put her in her Spanish class and she got a B.  So that I’m not worried about her learning at all.

When you said you were told that, was that by the neuropsychologist in Marshfield?

No, that, this was done in  Madison.

Early on?

Yeah.  They said that it would be very difficult for her with new learning.  So that’s when I kind of tested it out with the Spanish class a semester and she did fine so I wasn’t worried about that.  I knew she was smart to begin with but it’s all those – I guess the ideal age to have a brain injury is about age 32 because you have learned a lot already.  So in your life in the social aspects of life and all sorts of situations that might come to hand, you would know how to handle yourself in the situations when they come up, that because she was 9 learning those is the difficult part because it’s all that executive brain, the function, the frontal lobe.

I think she’s about right now about three years behind socially.

So she’s a year behind your son with her teen years after severe brain injury.


Typically girls are supposed to be ahead.  She is not ahead in her teen years after severe brain injury.


Is it like having a 13-year-old boy in the house in her  teen years after severe brain injury?

Ah, no, no 13-year-old girl.  She is, you know, Justin Beaver and kind of the things that I would think are younger people like the Jonas Brothers and characters on television or, or movie actors on television that are younger doing that –middle school to, to middle teen high school age, portrayals on television is what she’s mainly attracted to.

Where does she stand in terms of dating, boyfriends, her sexuality in her teen years after severe brain injury ?

She’s not,  promiscuous and she’s not really – ah, what do I say? She’s not uninhibited. –  disinhibited. I think she’s kind of prudish in a way.

Is she afraid of boys in her teen years after severe brain injury ?

No, she’s overly – she likes boys, she likes any boy, but to talk to a boy would be like hi and she just turns beet red and walks away.  Any situation including friends.

Dr. Theye had told us in about 18 months you’re going to lose, she’s going to lose all her friends because they’re growing and changing and she’s not.  She’s going to lag behind and sure enough.  Never thought of it because my husband and I both coached all of the kids in school in softball or baseball in a very close group.

I mean it’s a small community so you just think oh my god this isn’t going to happen, you know, it’s not going to happen and it happened.  It was just – even though we did an educational session with the group – when she was in fifth grade we brought them all together, talked to them all about it, Dr. Theye gave us some ideas to show – like the consistency of Jell-O being the brain.  And her in the room and if she didn’t feel comfortable answering questions she would just say: “I’m not really comfortable with that answer or with that question” and then she wouldn’t have to answer it and we informed that and told the kids that when we first started.  Some of the kids were very curious.

A lot of them knew – I don’t know how much prepping the classroom teachers did but it, it was very sad later on to see that they still protect her.  They say hi to her but that’s about where that stops too but it’s that emotional like oh so and so said hi to me in the hall.  How exciting and I haven’t talked to her in so long.

They did scripting with her – you know, at least five or six questions that you could ask, you ask someone as just a passive conversation – and she just gets overboard and I, I think she’s afraid to make – not a fool out of herself but just to get overly excited and she’ll push – or a walk away from me situation.

Next in Part Seventeen – Hearing the Child in the Voice of an 18 Year Old Severe Brain Injury Survivor

By Attorney Gordon Johnson


About the Author

Attorney Gordon S. Johnson, Jr.
Past Chair Traumatic Brain Injury Litigation Group, American Association of Justice :: 800-992-9447