School of Education
Doctor of Education (EdD)
abusive head trauma, adolescent, life history, resilience, traumatic brain injury
Ledford, Crystal G., "Trudy's Triumph: A Narrative Life History of an Adolescent Survivor of Abusive Head Trauma" (2017). Doctoral Dissertations and Projects. 1614.
The purpose of this narrative study was to describe the life history of an adolescent survivor of an abusive head trauma in the Southeastern United States. Abusive head trauma is a form of inflicted brain injury, often occurring because of violence in the form of shaking or impact to the head of an infant under the age of two years old (Chevignard & Lind, 2014). Life history is defined as a first-hand account to convey understanding of a life. The primary participant was a 19-year-old, Caucasian female survivor of an abusive head trauma that occurred when she was five months old. Secondary participants include the survivor’s family members, a family friend, a special education teacher and a church youth leader. The theoretical framework of this study was based on Bronfenbrenner’s (1979) ecology of human development, Ungar’s (2012) theory of social-ecological resilience, and Bandura’s (1986) social cognitive theory. The central research question was: What are the lived experiences of an adolescent survivor of an abusive head trauma in the Southeastern United States? Data was collected through interviews, observations, documents, artifacts, video journal, and prolonged engagement with the survivor and her family. Data was analyzed to describe the story and place it in a chronology to present narration focusing on processes, theories, and unique general features of the primary participant’s life. Findings indicated that the primary participant faced neurological, cognitive, behavioral, academic and social challenges, while her resilience mechanisms included a large support network, adaptive behaviors, faith and perseverance. This study makes an original, empirical contribution as the sole account of the life history of an adolescent survivor of an abusive head trauma.