The Acquired Brain Injury Survivors Support Group of Southeast Louisiana has demonstrated to its members that the group is an additional therapeutic support for those who have suffered the trauma of brain injury.

When an injury of this type occurs, whether because of an accident or resulting from a stroke, tumor or other cause, the effects can be distressing and, at times, disheartening to the victim and to his or her family and friends.

Even if the individual is not affected physically, the neurological trauma suffered by the brain can leave life-altering symptoms.

ABIS, whose members are of varying ages and come from all parishes in the Greater New Orleans area, provides an atmosphere of camaraderie and socialization where members become friends. Here each has the opportunity to be accepted by their peers who can relate to the difficulties and problems large and small that are associated with daily living and adjustments to their situation. Social activities are planned throughout the year such as a day at Jazz Fest, Audubon Zoo, holiday parties and more.

ABIS meetings are held at the Piccadilly Cafeteria, 2609 Jefferson Hwy. A regular meeting is held from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. on the second Saturday of the month; and a Clubhouse Day is held on the fourth Saturday of the month, noon to 4 p.m. for cards, games, art and more.

The management at Piccadilly has been most supportive of the group and provides a meeting room. The members usually have lunch or snacks from the cafeteria while they get together.

To show appreciation to the management and staff of the restaurant, ABIS recently held an award presentation during their Acquired Brain Injury Awareness Day celebration. President Jamie Rowley presented a plaque on behalf of the club to Roosevelt Collins, restaurant manager, for his and the Piccadilly staff’s on-going support.

Rowley discussed the benefits of becoming part of ABIS. “We are in a time-taking process and will get better as time goes on. Everyone sets goals in the club, and we will achieve our goals”, she said.

Lara Nelms, who was injured in a car accident, talked about the difficulty in keeping up with her friends.

“When I came here and I was accepted, I knew the these people were going to be my friends. And they are,” Nelms said.

ABIS was formed in August 1996 as a nonprofit organization and has been an integral part of everyone’s life who have been involved — including parents and friends of members. ABIS belongs to the Brain Injury Association of Louisiana.

ABIS invites individuals who are interested to call or visit a meeting or Clubhouse Day. For information call (504) 849-9069 or visit abigroup.homestead.com.

Inclusion Matters

InclusionMatters 2014 is the fifth annual statewide conference on inclusion practices in Louisiana. This collaboration between the Human Development Center at LSU Health Sciences Center and the Louisiana Parent Training and Information Center of Families Helping Families of Jefferson, with additional funding by the Louisiana Children’s Trust Fund is one of the major conferences highlighting the process and progress of inclusion of individuals with special needs in the school setting, workforce, and the community.

The conference will be held at the New Orleans Marriott Hotel, June 5-7 and will feature a nationally known keynote speaker each day. Break-out sessions are in three sections: Early Childhood (0-5 years), School Age (6-15 years), and Transition Age (16 years and up).

For further information about the speakers and the schedule of sessions, visit www.fhfjefferson.org or www.hdc.lsuhse.edu, or call (504) 888-9111 or toll-free (800) 766-7736. On-site registration will only be available if space permits.

Jane Pic Adams writes about issues of interest to individuals with disabilities and their families. Contact her at jpa.article@gmail.com.