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The classroom and students with an ABI fact sheet

The classroom and students with an acquired brain injury

The learning environment can have a significant impact upon the participation of students after a brain injury. Small changes to the classroom environment can increase the student’s ability to focus for longer and joining their peers in the learning activities.

Position within the classroom

The following factors should be considered when deciding on a place to seat the student:

Physical mobility

  • Do they have easy access from the door to their desk to enable easy access to the playground and toilets?
  • Is there enough space left between desks to enable safe pathway to other locations in the classroom they may need to access?
  • Can the student access their desk space, storage and equipment?
  • Is their classroom close to the bathrooms for easy access?
  • Are there stairs to consider and does the student have any balance or speed considerations?
  • How many other students are going to try and access the same place in the classroom at the same time? (consider sending students in small groups)


  • Can the student be positioned close to the teacher and the board?
  • Can the student be placed next to quiet non distracting students?
  • Would the student benefit from a classroom buddy who can assist them remain on task?
  • Can their desk face on to board so they don’t have to turn their head to copy work?
  • Can the visual stimulus around the board be decreased?
  • Can highlighters be used to help the student identify what work they to focus on?
  • Would the student benefit from a physical boundary reminder (coloured mat to indicate their personal space on mat/floor time)?


  • Minimise the glare on the board – consider window coverings.
  • Can the student be positioned to optimise easy use of their available visual field (e.g. sitting on the left side of the classroom if they have a left visual field deficit, so that all information is presented on their seeing right side?


Appropriate seating will assist the student with brain injury focus for longer and therefore optimise their learning experience. When considering the student’s seating, consider their physical abilities:

  • Do they get tired easily – good posture needs to be supported: consider chair and desk height?
  • Do they seek out movement and therefore need a chair to support this (swivel chair, move and sit cushion)?
  • Do they remain in their wheelchair or do they need to come out of this chair for a change in position?

Contact us

Queensland Paediatric Rehabilitation Service
Queensland Children’s Hospital
Level 6, 501 Stanley Street, South Brisbane 4101
t: 07 3068 2950
t: 07 3068 1111 (general enquiries)
f: 07 3068 3909

In an emergency, always call 000.

If it’s not an emergency but you have any concerns, contact 13 Health (13 43 2584). Qualified staff will give you advice on who to talk to and how quickly you should do it. You can phone 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Developed by the Queensland Paediatric Rehabilitation Service, Children’s Health Queensland. Updated: October 2017. All information contained in this sheet has been supplied by qualified professionals as a guideline for care only. Seek medical advice, as appropriate, for concerns regarding your child’s health.