National Rehabilitation Hospital

Parents’ Perspectives on Reintegration of Students with Acquired Brain Injury into the Irish School System

Mary O’Connor

The focus of this study is an examination of the school experiences of students with Acquired Brain Injury following their discharge from rehabilitation. The students, prior to returning to school were enrolled in a rehabilitation hospital school between the years 1990 and 1996 and the return to school experience is explored from the perspective of their parents. The study aims to ascertain what helped or hindered the students to participate in and develop their potential within the Irish educational system. The research participants were 31 parents whose children were discharge home between five and eleven years ago. The study is mainly qualitative in nature and used a postal self-administered questionnaire and semi-structured interview as research tools.

The main themes that emerged related to the extent of knowledge of the effects of Acquired Brain Injury among school personnel, the felt needs of these students are different to those of students show were born disabled, and the importance of parent advocacy, social contacts, supports in school and entitlement to an appropriate education. The study findings could have a potential usefulness in relation to Irish educational policy and practice. They could also have a potential significance to present discharge procedures from rehabilitation and to the facilitation of the students’ reintegration into the Irish School System. In addition the findings have potential to influence the quality of education provided by the schools to which students who acquire and brain injury return.