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Daniel’s Story

My name is Daniel. I am 11 years old and am in sixth grade. I like math and science, playing the piano, building legos and reading books.

My brain injury journey began when I was six weeks old – my brain began pushing the bone on the back of my head off my head. There wasn’t enough room for my brain to grow normally because my skull fused together too soon. My mom says that’s called "craniosynostosis."

I had my first surgery when I was five months old. Things seemed great for a long time. Then my mom said when I was 4 years old, I began acting “impulsively” and having a lot of headaches. They said I needed more room in my head so my brain could finish growing. This time they used a titanium mesh plate to give my brain extra space. Not a big deal unless you need an MRI.

Again, things were fine. Since my second surgery though, I have had two concussions. The first was at a school with a pretty good protocol. They called my mom right away so I could get help. The second, less than a year ago, happened at a different school right after school on their front lawn. I asked them for ice and to call my mom. They told me to go home because I lived a block away. The school never called my mom. My mom said no protocol was used. My teacher at the school labeled my concussion symptoms as me being “unmotivated." I am a really good student with high marks, but I was struggling in my favorite areas after the second concussion. Six months later, I was still struggling in school, and my teachers didn’t understand about how brains heal.

My mom and grandma had been working to get help. Finally, I was seen for a "neuropsychevaluation" at a trauma hospital. I just completed some really cool neurotherapy from a small therapy office in Omaha that uses magnets to train my brain.

I wanted to share my story because I want others to know some labeling isn’t helpful. Brain injury feels like an invisible challenge. Many people think you’re "angry, lazy or unmotivated." I am not any of these. When I changed schools, my new teachers saw me for who I was. They recognized my talents and gifts and recommended I skip fifth grade!

I hope when you’re talking to or working with someone and they have a quick reaction that you will stop and think maybe it could be a brain injury. Maybe it’s just a symptom and not who they are.