Traumatic Brain Injury in Kids and Teens Can Impact School Performance

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Fall Sports Season Signals Parents to Watch for Symptoms and Engage School-Based Speech-Language Pathologists to Help

Kids and teens suffering from TBI may struggle with speech, language, and thinking, which can lead to problems reading or memorizing.

With more kids suffering traumatic brain injury (TBI) than ever before and fall sports season in high gear, parents should know and watch for concussion warning signs in kids and monitor their school performance.

Kids and teens suffering from TBI may struggle with speech, language, and thinking, which can lead to problems reading or memorizing. They may have more trouble than usual focusing on tasks and homework or difficulties paying attention in class. Poor grades and/or problems talking with friends or doing favorite activities may result.

Every school district across the United States has a speech-language pathologist (SLP) who can work with a TBI-impacted student and his or her family and teachers to create a treatment plan. Leveraging their training in cognitive communication impairments and experience helping children develop language and reading skills, SLPs can administer and interpret cognitive and behavioral assessments. They may also work with teachers to transition kids returning to school after TBI and modify test times, class loads, homework, and deadlines as needed.

Having ongoing access to school-based SLPs can be especially helpful, given that the full impact of a brain injury may not be evident until months or even years later. A child who has a TBI in kindergarten may not have noticeable difficulty in school until second grade, when academics become more challenging.

TBI is increasingly impacting boys and girls of all ages. Each year, U.S. hospital emergency departments treat over 170,000 sports- and recreation-related TBIs*, including concussions, in children and teens—and more cases go unrecognized or unreported.

When head injuries happen this fall, parents, teachers, coaches, and other concerned adults can watch for concussion warning signs and reach out to SLPs at the child’s school for support. Parents should notify teachers if their child experiences even a mild bump to the head, so they can watch for TBI symptoms in class and minimize the student’s workload.

*Center for Disease Control and Prevention

ASHA’s Infographic, “TBI in Kids and Teens Can Impact School Performance,” is available at

About the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association
ASHA,, is the national professional, scientific, and credentialing association for more than 150,000 audiologists, speech-language pathologists, and speech, language, and hearing scientists in the United States and internationally. Audiologists specialize in preventing and assessing hearing and balance disorders as well as providing audiologic treatment including hearing aids. Speech-language pathologists identify, assess, and treat speech and language problems including swallowing disorders.

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Erin Mantz
American Speech-Language-Hearing Assoc.
(301) 296-8715
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