Re-Learning the Basics: Coastline Community College’s ABI Program

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Coastline Community College’s Acquired Brain Injury (ABI) Program

Program Overview

What Is the ABI Program?

Coastline’s ABI Program is a demanding two-year educational program designed to provide structured cognitive retraining for adults who have sustained a brain injury due to traumatic (such as a motor vehicle accident or fall) or non-traumatic (such as a non-agerelated stroke, brain tumor or infection) injuries.

Each year, according to the Brain Injury Association, more than 700,000 Americans sustain brain damage from traumatic head injuries alone. Most are between the ages of 15 and 30—young, active, involved individuals, suddenly and unexpectedly disabled.

In many cases, impaired attention and concentration, memory disturbances, language disabilities, and/or loss of reasoning skills prevent these individuals from resuming even minimal pre-accident activities. Awareness of limitations and shattered career and personal goals lead to frustration and depression, further contributing to the individual’s unemployment, isolation and alienation from friends, family and community.

Coastline’s ABI Program has developed a unique curriculum to address these special needs. The ABI Program emphasizes cognitive retraining, socialization, and career development to promote individual responsibility and independence. Students in the program learn strategies to compensate for deficits in:

  • Verbal skills
  • Memory
  • Figural skills
  • Critical thinking
  • Attention
  • Organization

With a strong focus on emotional adjustment to brain injury and appropriate psychosocial skills, the program teaches students to apply these skills to practical, real-life home and work environments.
Coastline’s ABI Program also offers the following program support services:

  • Neuroeducational assessment
  • Counseling for students and their families
  • Job training and placement assistance

Classes meet Monday through Thursday, four hours per day. The school year includes two 16-week semesters and a six- to eight-week summer session. Classes are held at Coastline’s Costa Mesa Center, 2990 Mesa Verde Dr. East, Costa Mesa, CA 92626.

What Makes the ABI Program Unique?
Staffed by a team of credentialed special education instructors, assisted by a neuropsychologist, instructional associates, aides, interns and volunteers, the ABI Program’s goal is to provide structured cognitive retraining, allowing students to maximize their abilities, regain their independence, and achieve academic and vocational goals. A Student Educational Contract, developed in a student/family/team conference, serves as a guide for assisting students in achieving their individual goals.

With an average student-to-staff ratio of seven-to-one, students are ensured individualized attention. Coastline’s ABI Program was named 1998 Exemplary Program by the Academic Senate of the California Community Colleges, and 1990 Outstanding Program by the American Association of Community Colleges (AACC)/National Organization on Disability and featured in Disability Support Practices in Community Colleges: Selected Examples published by AACC in 1993.

Coastline was the first community college in the nation to offer cognitive retraining to brain-injured adults. Its program has long served as a model for other colleges. With support from a grant by the U.S. Department of Education’s prestigious Fund for the Improvement of Post-Secondary Education, Coastline developed an assessment and curriculum package, C6A3BI (Coastline Community College Comprehensive Cognitive Retraining Curriculum for Adults and Adolescents with Acquired Brain Injury) that has been sold to organizations and educational institutions across North America.

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