I share this early experience of Justin's head injury just in case you have a child who has suffered a traumatic brain injury (Whether it was diagnosed or not). A Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) is very dangerous and you should always contact the Brain Association in your area to ask questions. Unfortunately, I asked questions too late.
When my youngest son Justin was 5 years old I took him to a doctors office for a routine appointment. While there he had to use the bathroom, he went on his own. The nurse comes running out to tell me that a cabinet which was on the wall fell off and hit him in the head. Justin had a traumatic head injury. An injury to the frontal lobe of his brain.
The effects of the brain injury showed up at age 13 as a serious cognitive problem that took on the form of ADD. As he transitioned into 6th grade, no one, not I or he understood that he was living the effects of a traumatic brain injury. TBI caused his focus problems and interrupted his ability to retain and sequence information properly, the symptoms of TBI showed up as ADD. He found himself in a conflict with his teachers. They felt he was playful (class clown) and not wanting to do the work. Justin was actually using that playful behavior to hide his fear of being embarrassed by the confrontations he experienced in front of his class members, when he could not keep up. It wasn't long before he was placed in an alternative school program that separates him from his friends and isolates him from other students and places him in a room with young men who were on there way to prison with their behaviors. In the state of VA they have a Zero Tolerance Rule that has no tolerance for class clown behaviors. I had never heard of this Alternative Program. I was told it was a wonderful program with great men motivators who will motivate my son instead he came home totally confused, he said, "Mom it feels like I'm in a school jail."
It was there where I saw the first signs of depression. It is there where this amazing, talented young man, full of life, changes. Now he is forced into an environment that is saturated with negative media, music, drugs, alcohol, and peer pressure, his world quietly began to crumble. Justin was not groomed for that life, but was now trapped by its grip. The environment I had fought to protect him from was now creating a deeper depression in his life. At the age of 13, feeling very misunderstood, Justin fell deeper into a depression. By 13/14 he began using what today's youth call marijuana but it is actually marijuana lased with a chemical substance. At some point Justin was addicted to a horrible hallucinogenic drug called the dipper (dipping cigarettes into formaldehyde and smoking it.)
By 21, Justin smoked a dipper that, I was told was laced with rat poisoning. My wonderful son shy, smart and funny, a true athlete, a young man full of life and hopes for his future had now fallen into a drug addiction that led him on a path to his death at the age of 22.
Justin fell through the cracks of a very broken judicial system and into Western State Minimum Facility and then to the Central State Maximum Security Mental Health Facility where he was strangled in his bed on February 27, 2010. Everyone who knew him loved him, his smile and light funny personality would light up a room. Who would have ever thought something so horrible could happen to an amazing young man like Justin. He had no felony's, and was not a harden criminal. Justin was a young Christian who was the victim of what happens when you have cracked your mother board. God told me that Justin was a sacrificial lamb whose death will open the doors to conversations round the dangers of TBI. I live to raise awareness of this all too common injury. Today many young people are falling into traps set to drive them off course. TBI could be masked by mental disorders such as ADD or ADHD, It may even show up in your child's life as depression. Do your child a favor and think back over their childhood and think, "Could my child be suffering from frontal lobe TBI.