Children with Acquired Brain Injury

FVBIA has a booklet for children ages 5 to 10, “The Road Ahead: Next Exit: Hope”

It is a helpful look at how brain injury affects the whole family

What to Expect from Your Child:

The following changes may affect your child’s behaviour after a brain injury. This is not an exhaustive list. Your child may experience many of these changes or none at all:

  • Fatigue
  • Irritability, angry outbursts, and impulsiveness
  • Passive behaviour
  • Depression
  • Forgetfulness
  • Poor organizational skills
  • Difficulty following directions
  • Immature behaviour
  • Inappropriate sexual behaviour


Fatigue is the most common problem children experience after sustaining a brain injury. Your child may also suffer from vision problems, light sensitivity, or headaches that they did not have before the injury.  To prevent fatigue, you may need to give your child rest periods in a quiet place. Remember, it is important that your child participate in school and other activities only when they have the mental and physical energy to do so.

Irritability and Angry Outbursts

Irritability and angry outbursts are also common among children learning how to deal with the stimulation of school, day care and/or playgrounds. Look at what precedes the behaviour. Do you notice a pattern?  Is there something you can change, such as introducing a rest period, that will help prevent or reduce the frequency of the behaviour?

Immature or Inappropriate Behaviour

Immature behaviours include interrupting frequently, making tactless remarks, displaying messy eating habits, or repeating words over and over. Inappropriate behaviours may also include making inappropriate sexual comments, or gestures or actions that are out of context.  

Grief, Guilt & Depression

Many parents of young brain injury survivors experience grief, guilt, and/or depression over what has been lost.  These are normal emotional responses. You need to grieve your losses and so may your child. You may feel guilt over the circumstances of the injury even if it could not reasonably have been prevented. Guilt is often expressed as anger and blame directed at others. Depression is another common response. If you or your child are finding it difficult to move through the emotions, contact your local school board, Regional Health Authority, local Child and Family Service Authority or local Brain Injury Association and ask about counselling.  [Source: Alberta Brain Injury Network: Survival Guide (2003)]