Recently, I was invited to speak as part of a corporate Diversity and Inclusion program on my work advocating for Texas HB 1338 and living as a brain trauma survivor. The invitation came from a coworker I met in the cafeteria, her name is Alicia and I want to thank her here for her interest and action in making that possible. The talk was good and honest and brought home that you never know who will be interested or need what they hear. A senior staff person said that much of the education this law brings to peace officers and first responders on recognizing brain trauma, she thinks are good tools for handling individuals who are within the autism spectrum. That made the talk worth the hour I spoke, it gave some help where it is needed. And that’s what we do!
Happy Valentine’s Day, a little late! But I’m catching up and that seems a good start. I just spoke yesterday at a Diversity and Inclusion lunch for a national corporation’ quarterly event. It was casual and personal and we got a great sense of connection. I drove home thinking about the activity of the last month’s and how 2017 is gaining momentum for me. In December, I was part of the The Brain Injury Alliance Texas Division’s annual conference and was honored to receive the Tom Dean Humanitarian Award for my outreach work. I am hoping to work more with this group through Kelly Ramsey, who heads their work in Austin.
In March, I will be the keynote speaker for the Tennessee Department of Health’ annual conference, celebrating our progress and hopes for continuing work on brain trauma needs and successes.
This is such a personal journey, I was reminded of that yesterday when one of the senior managers shared that much I had to say about our new law and the protections it offers is something she thinks is needed for the autism spectrum, too. She is in Des Moines, so we are continuing to grow.
I hope your recent holiday held some special people and memories.
November’s end always brings me to wrapping up the year’s work and starting my wish list for the months to come. This year was busy and productive for me on the brain trauma advocacy front. I visited several states in June on a swing through New England. And in September, at the National Association of State Head Injury Administrators (NASHIA) State of the State Convention, I presented a session on HB 1338 to interested people from Alaska to Florida. It was the first time I presented our Outreach Map, which keeps track of the status of our work in each of the 50 states regarding this bill.
That conference was summed up in an email from Kelly Ramsey, Executive Director of the Brain Injury Alliance of America’s Texas Division, which said NASHIA attendees were telling her how informative my session was.
I’ve updated the Outreach map to show those states I had followup conversations with. Our goal is for this law, offering training on brain trauma recognition and constructive response to peace officers and first responders, to be broached in every state.
On December 9, I will present a poster at the Brain Injury Alliance, Texas Division’s annual Symposium, on 2016’s outreach, in conjunction with the Office of Acquired Brain Injury as they discuss their work in providing this training to date. As of August, they had a rough count of 550 recipients this year; many were requested trainings.
The results are good for both my speaking on this topic and for the training that supports this work. Please contact me if you have questions or comments. And thank you for reading!
Here is an updated map of our outreach work, see it on our Map page, too, updated with progress noted in a legend and links to details.
This image is me the day I testified to the Select Committee on Emerging Issues in Law Enforcement, for what became HB 1338, 84R Texas Legislature, Naishtat. This four minute speech sums up my life with brain trauma since 1994, my negative experience with law enforcement, and the ensuing work I did that became the catalyst for this law that protects and educates individuals with brain trauma and the peace officers for whom different sometimes needs to be understood.
Here is a link to the archived bill information, too. I have had many questions about it over the last few months and decided that making it available for people to watch would be good background for understanding our work:
link to committee video archive:
link to bill text, history and actions:
As we are working now outside of Texas, it is good to offer insight into how we began.
Hi, all, I have been quiet for awhile, and need to catch this blog up on the outreach I’ve done over the summer on brain trauma needs and resources. In June, I spent several days meeting with the Brain Injury Association folks in Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Maine about our Texas law (HB 1338, Texas Legislature session 84R, Naishtat) that offers training to peace offers and first responders in recognizing brain trauma and trauma symptoms and constructive response in handling those, rather than misidentifying them as substance abuse issues. The response was enthusiastic and supportive and we are planning further national effort to keep the outreach of Texas new law to more individuals. My colleague, Bill Roof, did just that in Rhode Island after I came home to Texas and we added that state to our supporters. My next states to visit are in the west and I’m looking forward to October chats, details to come on that.
I also keep up with our efforts here in Texas and last month lunched with Gabi Teal and Linda Jones of the Office of Acquired Brain Injury to catch up on the teaching efforts. Gabi estimated that since February she has trained 535 law enforcement personnel on this topic. And many of those were requested trainings. I am thrilled to see the willingness of good officers in learning about the aspects of individuals so that we and they are better protected and served.
My own efforts right now are focused on adding an interactive map of the USA to this site that I can update with the states and entities we have engaged so that our national efforts and progress are here for every one to find. I’m trying to get the first draft of the map up here before I speak at the NASHIA (National Association of Head Injury Administrators) Conference on Wednesday, September 14, at 10:15 a.m. in Columbus, Ohio. Here is the link for that:
I also did a book talk in Camden Maine at the public library during my New England visit. Camden is beautiful and I had a great time discussing See Ya, my novel set on Cape Cod during WWII. On September 24, the Brain Injury Assn – Massachusetts group will hold a Walk and Roll for Brain Trauma in Bourne, MA. I went to high school there, and retraced my teenage paths during my June trip, too, which is part of the setting for my book.
We are talking about doing a brain trauma survivor and caretaker conference up there as a retreat and source of information, probably next fall. Please post here if you are interested in attending, and what topics would be useful to learn about.
I’ll update more of the site over the weekend, so please check back. I hope your Friday is great, and thank you for reading!
Bluebonnets are beginning, one of my favorite spring things. Today I am updating several brain injury events I have participated in recently, either planning or attended. This last Sunday, February 28, I cohosted with Constance Miller on Concussion and Brain Injury Survivor Conversation. It was a really strong show, lots of comment and I got good feedback from listeners in other states. Yesterday, I attended the Alamo Head Injury Association’s 2016 Symposium which had a speaker who has adapted many everyday items to assist brain injury survivors. All the speakers were good but he was original and positive and great to hear. March is Brain Injury Awareness month and I am busy planning a few more events. I’ll give details when they are set. Enjoy your Friday!
Hi, all, tomorrow is Thanksgiving. Last year we drove 10 hours to share it in Oklahoma with one of our daughters who was in her last semester of veterinary school. I can’t describe the heartbeat of that first moment of seeing her. I was thankful to get to spend it with her and some of her awesome friends.
This year I am thankful most for the people I have known. We have lot a few this year and even more have some health worries.
My speaking on brain trauma surviving has grown much this year, too, and I am grateful for the support and enthusiasm that has made that possible. I will talk about the new law I began shepherded on Friday, December 11. Around me are sticky notes of points I want to make, scribbled while the pies cool.
Happy Thanksgiving! This site is growing and changing, but always here for you, just look under the contact tab for how to reach me.
It is Sunday, November 15, a candle burns and my coffee is strong as I am beginning a new step in my journey of brain trauma recovery and advocacy, the past two years have been like a toboggan ride, busy, fast and slow all at once, with a broadening of what I have to say and audiences to say it to.
I am framing the past work I have done into this bigger effort, it is the start, the basis for my work,. In 2012 it took on a much bigger meaning, it took me a year to gather myself and then two of research and talking to shepherd a needed change into a law protecting trauma survivors and broadening my own speaking realm from survivor to advocate.
With this website, I am widening my topics to speak and advocate for those who need a voice. Check back frequently, please, we are adding every day! And there is a resources page so you can add to what is known and useful, please send along your own experience, we will use it if we can. One thing I have learned, each brain trauma journey is different and the more we know, the more we help.
Thank you, and be blessed. Cheryl