Brain Injured from Birth?


Never “normal” —
and never understanding
why you can’t do what others CAN

© Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, ACT, MCC, SCAC

Sort of, but not really

As awful as it is to lose functionality as a result of head injury, stroke, or some of the short-term memory deficits that cause “senior moments,” what if you had NEVER experienced the functionality you are mourning?

Those of us with Attentional Spectrum Disorders and Executive Functioning Deficits have been struggling with “TBI problems” and “senior moments” our entire lives, to undeserved and unkind public ridicule and general disbelief that what we report is a legitimate problem.

In an earlier article, Lessons from the TBI Community, developed initially for a brain-based talk to a professional conference for ADD Coaches, I attempted to compare the problems faced by individuals with challenges due to Traumatic Brain Injury to the struggles of the rest of us here in Alphabet City.

Broken Brains

I doubt that anyone who reads or watches television is unaware of the behavioral and cognitive changes that accompany dementias, strokes, and brain injuries due to accidents of one sort or another.

Most sensible individuals readily accept that those changes are a direct result of brain damage, leaving areas of the brain incapable of performing their role in the neural relay race, or doing so inefficiently or incompletely.

WHY IS IT SO DIFFICULT TO BELIEVE that that someone might be be born with parts of the brain that function inefficiently, or that brain development might not proceed in that so-called neurotypical fashion in a subset of individuals — and that there might be similar behavioral and cognitive differences as a result?

AFTER ALL, anyone who has had any reason to take a look at education in the last forty years surely must be aware of the meaning of the term “learning disorder” or “learning disability.”

If they’ve looked beyond the headlines, they may also be aware that the term does not refer to an intelligence-delimited inability to learn, but to a difference in the manner and speed in which the information must be presented for learning to take place.

Unrealistic Expectations

TBI advocates and sufferers frequently write about how painful and difficult it is for them that those around them expect that their functioning will mirror their appearance.

During the period where they look “banged up” in some fashion, loved ones and friends encourage them to be patient and take it easy. Once they look “okay,” the understanding that they are still healing seems to run out.

  • They are expected to BE okay as soon as they LOOK okay —
    to rapidly return to the “self” they were before their accident.
  • There seems to be little to no understanding that they are being asked, metaphorically, to walk on a broken leg with severed nerves.

Although the unrealistic expectations of others are maddening – and tough on the sufferer’s self-esteem – there is usually some awareness in his or her heart of the reason that they aren’t able to do what is expected of them.

They realize only too well that parts of their brain aren’t functioning “normally” yet, even though the underlying reason is “invisible” to others, so tough for them to believe.

What if they had NEVER experienced anything different? 

What if not being able to live up to expectations WAS “normal,” as far as they knew?  Then what?  How would that affect their view of themselves?

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Lessons from the TBI Community


Link dense – links are dark grey to reduce distractibiliy –
they turn red on mouseover – hover before clicking for a bit more info first


ACO Conference Binder 2012 –
Blog expanded Speaker Content
Madelyn Griffith-Haynie – Part 3a

Intractable Ignorance:
forming an opinion without knowing very much about a subject
while refusing to investigate any information
that might change one’s mind;
closed mindedness;
cognitive inflexibility.

Feed Your Head

I will always stare in mouth-open amazement whenever I hear statements that might as well be saying, “I don’t believe that ADD is a legitimate disorder”  from intelligent and otherwise well-informed individuals.

  • Part of the the lack of acceptance and understanding is certainly the fact that ADD/EFD is what we call an invisible disorder — unlike many physical disabilities, for example.
  • Behaviors are visible, of course, but far too many people labor under the illusion that all “[mis]behavior”  is ALWAYS within the volitional control of the person exhibiting the behavior — despite a great deal of research and a great many books from credible sources pointing out the fallacy
    of that assumption.

The far greater problem, however, is ignorance – insufficient information.

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