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The Relationship Between Brain Injury, Brain Injury Indicators, and the Provision of School Services

Traumatic Brain Injury was included as a special education disability category in the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act to ensure that students with brain injury would receive appropriate supports and services within the school setting. However, as brain injury is a medical diagnosis, it is often not considered as a possibility when a child experiences difficulty in school.

Hence, many students struggle in schools because their brain injuries are either not identified or misidentified. In an effort to explore aspects of the relationship between brain injury identification, possible indicators of brain injury in unidentified students, and the provision of school services, surveys were mailed to two samples of parents in three school districts. One sample represented the general school population and one sample represented only those students receiving special education services.

The two main areas of interest in this study were whether students with identified brain injury or potential signs of brain injury (“brain injury indicators”) were receiving special education or 504 plan services and, if so, under which disability category were special education services being provided. The data were analyzed using Chi-square statistics and descriptive analysis. Findings indicated that, although students with brain injury were more likely to be receiving special education services than other members of the general population, the proportion actually receiving services was not substantial, and a statistical difference was not found between students with brain injury receiving and not receiving special education services.

Students with brain injury were also less likely to be receiving 504 plan services than to be receiving those services. With respect to students with brain injury indicators, these students were also less likely to be receiving special education services than to be receiving them. Finally, the data analysis showed that students with brain injury or brain injury indicators were unlikely to be receiving special education services under the disability category of Traumatic Brain Injury. In both instances, students were more frequently reported as receiving their services under the disability category of “Other.” Implications of these results are provided in the final chapter.

Results can be found at:
McCaleb, K. N. The relationship between brain injury, brain injury indicators, and the provision of school services. Published Doctor of Education dissertation, University of Northern Colorado, (2003).

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