Stories of school reintegration following traumatic brain injury (TBI): The experiences of children, their primary caregivers and educators in the Western Cape

Master Thesis


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University of Cape Town

Focus of study and background to the problem: The study focuses on the experiences of children with traumatic brain injury (TBI), their parents and educators of being back at school. TBI is a major health concern in South Africa (SA). Children who sustain a TBI have significant, but often hidden, disorders which affect their learning and social interaction. The South African government endorses a policy of inclusive education (IE); however, the educational environment is stressed and overburdened. Little is known both internationally and in SA about the children's experiences, and the experiences of their parents and educators. Aims: The study has one main aim which is to explore and describe the experience of being back at school of children with TBI, their parents and educators. Methodology: A narrative case study design was used, consisting of two cases of 3 participants each (child with TBI, his parent and educator). Children were aged between 10 and 12 years. Data were collected using multiple open ended interviews. Data analysis was a complex and iterative process across 3 levels. Results: Results are presented across the levels of analysis. Firstly, six individual participant research stories are presented. Secondly, the emergent themes per participant type are given and discussed and finally a multiperspective combined theme is discussed. Conclusion: The experience of being back at school following TBI is a struggle as a policy of IE is expected to be practiced in an unsupported system. The children provided a voice previously lacking in the literature. There was evidence of inclusion being driven from the ground up by parents and educators. Implications of the study for policy makers, rehabilitation and educational professionals are given. A broader view of inclusion is advocated.

Includes bibliographical references