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Supporting children and students with acquired brain injury (ABI)

This page outlines how education staff, care services, parents, guardians, and health professionals work together to manage a child or student with acquired brain injuries (ABI) in education and care settings.

About acquired brain injuries

ABI refers to any damage to the brain that occurs after birth. 

ABI is not the same as an intellectual disability, although severe brain injury can result in an intellectual disability. 

Children and young people with mild to moderate ABI often retain their full intellectual abilities but may experience difficulties with controlling, coordinating or communicating their thoughts and actions.  

Find out more about ABI including:

  • causes such as trauma and substance abuse
  • long and short term symptoms.

Health support plans and agreements

If the child or student has an ABI, the education or care service should refer to health support planning for children and students in education and care settings to ensure that the appropriate plans and agreements are in place. This is in addition to the ABI-specific plans and agreements listed on this page. 

Care plan

Parents or caregivers should complete a non-specific health care plan – HSP110 (DOC 167KB) with their child’s health professional and return it to their school, preschool or care provider.

Education and care staff who regularly engage with the child or student will need to know what is in the plan.

Emergency care and first aid procedures

An individual first aid plan – HSP124 (DOC 167KB) should be completed by a health professional where the first aid response is not the standard first aid response for ABIs.

All education and care staff must provide first aid measure following any care plan or support agreement and contact emergency services if required.

Head injury first aid (PDF 98KB) must be followed if a head injury occurs. 

Training for education and care staff

Brain Injury SA provides tailored training services to equip staff with the skills, strategies and knowledge to support children with ABI. This includes:

  • a better understanding of ABI and its impact on individuals
  • advice around how people with ABI can best be supported
  • clarity on the relationship between ABI and mental illness
  • strategies to help manage challenging behaviour.

Training is provided by qualified professionals and can be scheduled at a time and location that suits your organisation. For training enquiries phone 8271 7614 or email info@braininjurysa@.org.au

How parents and caregivers can help

Parents or guardians must:

  • notify the school, preschool or care service if their child has an ABI
  • complete health care plans and agreements with their health care professionals and provide them to the school, preschool or care service
  • provide required medication to the school, preschool or care service.

If a medication agreement is in place, parents and caregivers must fulfil the roles and responsibilities outlined on the medication management and care page.

How health professionals help

Health professionals support schools, preschools, care services and families by helping to develop the care plan and any supporting medication and care agreements.

Disability and Complex Needs Team

Phone: 8226 0515
Email: education.health [at] sa.gov.au