John Hunter Hospital School logo

John Hunter Hospital School

John Hunter Hospital School

School, Family, Community

Telephone02 4985 5090

Information for teachers

Acquired Brain Injury (ABI) is unique because recovery from brain injury operates on several levels (physiological, functional and neuropsychological), and just as each injury is unique, so too are the associated effects.

A child's prognosis and outcome varies and is dependent upon multiple factors such as: site of the injury, extensiveness or the injury, causes of injury and the age at which the injury occurred. Unlike some other disabilities, there are no set strategies that work with most individuals who have an ABI. Instead, multiple strategies must be implements on a trial and error basis until a program of strategies is developed.

An interesting misconception is that a younger child will have a better outcome from a brain injury than an older student. Even though a young child's brain has more plasticity and a greater ability for other neurons to take on new function, the brain is less developed overall and the child has less pre-existing knowledge (including life experiences and skills) to help them adjust to the consequences associated with a brain injury.

Often in children, skills that were acquired before the injury will be maintained; however, the ability to acquire new skills will be impeded, sometimes halting them in a certain developmental stage. Deficits that result from an injury occurring at an early stage, may not emerge until the student is much older and at a developmental age where those skills are needed. For example, a student acquiring an injury to the frontal lobe at age 5 may not show deficits until age 12 or older when more sophisticated cognitive skills such as problem solving, judgement, and the ability to organise and prioritise are required.

General strategies for educators

  • Learn about acquired brain injury
  • Forge home and school partnerships
  • Provide cues and modelling to assist with initiation of assignments
  • Assist the student to devise an effective method for homework completion
  • Use repetition and review to aid in learning and memory
  • Allow for frequent breaks during teaching sessions
  • Offer a wide range of opportunities to learn new skills using different modalities
  • Provide consistent routines and structure
  • Control environmental stimulation
  • Prepare ahead of time for transitions
  • Teach organisational strategies
  • Chunk information into manageable bits
  • Accompany verbal instruction with written directions
  • Do not assume that the student has or is able to use the necessary prerequisite skill for a new task.

Ronald McDonald Learning Program offers professional development for teachers providing information and educational strategies that can be applied to children with a diverse range of illnesses. A one hour professional development session accredited by the NSW Institute of Teachers can be arranged for schools for free, to help teaching staff. Apply for the Ronald McDonald Learning Program here.

For more information, download information for teachers (PDF 25KB) and suggested strategies (PDF 135KB)

Additional information

Below are a range of sources that may help teachers across a variety of topics:

Individualised education plan



Eating and dietary

Hand motor skills

Health care procedures


Mobility and positioning


Social competence