Posted on November 7, 2011 · Posted in TBI Voices
This entry is part 19 of 20 in the series Steven

Accommodating Severe Brain Injury: Steven Part Nineteen

In part nineteen I ask Steven if he has any thoughts on how the schools and the workplace could be more accommodating severe brain injury survivors.  Here are his thoughts:

You have been through the difficult effort to learn a trade in an area that you had some interest in, auto mechanics.  Do you see any strategies in terms of accommodations, teaching skills or memory aids that could be more accommodating severe brain injury survivor  regardless of how long it took you to be able to get the car put together and not have parts left over?

This kind of filters over into every aspect of everything I do.  I need a lot more detailed and specifically organized laid out steps that I should be able to follow than the average person.  You can just tell somebody this, this, this and this, get it done.  I need all that in-between stuff that they’re supposed to just automatically know and be able to do on their own.

In a perfect world, you would have the perfect teacher to mentor and more accommodating severe brain injury until you got it done yourself.

Pretty much.

You don’t live in a perfect world.

Not at all.

How different is it out there?

People look at me and when I’m unable to perform at the level of everybody else it’s not that I have something wrong with me, it’s that I’m not trying hard enough and that’s the hardest part.

You think it’s accurate to say that you have a fairly flat mood, meaning your energy levels aren’t high and that you speak slowly?

Everything is a lot more thought about before I actually speak because I have run into problems in the past with impulsiveness and saying the wrong thing.  It’s not “socially acceptable” I think is the word that we’re looking for earlier.

Do people assume that means you’re either slow or high or just don’t care?

Probably so.

I asked Bill about accommodating Steven.

You’ve worked with Steven and obviously care about Steven, what efforts with accommodating severe brain injury were you able to do in the, at the Technology Center?

Well, we can always change up our training, our instructor.  We try, we can teach them different ways to do things and, and then, sometimes we just have to make them understand there’s certain things in a job you’re not going to be able to do.  And, so don’t attempt them, don’t aggravate what you’ve got, focus on the things that you can do.

How difficult is it as an administrator to convince the instructors that they have to make a complete exception for a given person because of a disability and make it more accommodating severe brain injury?

It’s not unusual for us to make exceptions because we’re paced training but an instructor can’t spend all day with one student when they’ve got 20 students back there.  They have to, you know, they teach to the group. You hope that most everybody can pick up and do what’s assigned but there’s time that occasionally instructor has to kind of break off and work.  And Steven demanded time.  Sometimes he would request more time simply because he couldn’t pick up on things sometimes or physically he couldn’t do things.

What about accommodating severe brain injury  mood issues, the accommodating severe brain injury anger issues, the accommodating severe brain injury frustration?

They generally came, the mood issues, you could pretty much tell when he came into school in the morning.  Some of the anger issues they were usually triggered.  He would just have disagreements with other students.  Sometimes Steven would say things he shouldn’t so I’d take exception.

One of the criteria for Social Security Disability is the inability to work in a work environment without distracting other coworkers.  Is that an area that you think it would be difficult to accommodate him?

Absolutely.  When they had the hearing I told him, I said Steven won’t work anywhere directly under a supervisor.  If the supervisor says something cross to Steven he will probably wind up getting fired.

Did you have more problems with students than instructors?

Yes, yes.  I guess some of them were just cultural, just, maybe just deep south stuff, I don’t know.  Some of it had to do with maybe some of the students sometimes felt Steve was taking, he was getting more attention than he should have, more than they would.  Some of them, I think just felt like, that Steve was getting shown a little favoritism even though we don’t feel like he was.  You know, they just wanted the same, the same amount of time from the instructor.

Steven Concludes in Part Twenty – Making the World a Smaller Mountain for Severe Brain

Injured to Move

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