Fractal wrote: When I returned to school the following year I was no longer in gifted classes, but had been moved to the “low” classes. I don’t remember a whole lot from this time, but I do remember what it is like to feel stupid.
Boy, I wish I had gotten the chance to talk to your school district! A great pediatric TBI clinician and writer, Dr. Mark Ylvisaker, noted back in the 1990's that schools needed to do "dynamic assessments", of rapidly changing and highly variable abilities. Traditional assessments like IQ and achievement tests missed the most likely areas of need and misinterpreted the others. So if kids suddenly had difficulty answering questions quickly, coming up with words, or remembering isolated facts and formulas, and also were slow in writing, they often "lost" 20-30 points on an IQ test or timed tests of verbal learning. Yet when speech therapists tested them, they somehow had receptive (recognition) knowledge of high vocabulary, great syntax and grammar, and appeared to not need speech therapy. The school's answer: Don't provide special ed. consultant teacher support, resource room, speech therapy, OT and PT; put the student in a "low" class, either tracked in general education or in full-day special ed. Meanwhile, the kids like you and their families often ended up trying to explain that they needed something different.
The most common difficulties after TBI in school-age kids I saw were free (unaided by cues) recall (what is photosynthesis? what is the name of your 3rd period teacher?"); processing speed (how fast can you do 20 math problems for homework; how easily can you copy homework from the board?); working memory (how well can you take notes while listening to the teacher speak rapidly on a new topic each class); fatigue (including cognitive fatigue that made kids look out the window, have headaches and need naps); and executive functioning (monitoring of tasks, of self, use of strategies, flexible shifting of strategies, metacognition (knowing what I know, and "how" I know).
Sadly, I've talked to people who years after an injury echo your comment that "I know what it's like to feel stupid." I hope you now have turned that experience into a passion to help kids who feel "stupid" to feel empowered and optimistic: that learning problems are often "specific, temporary and external", not "personal, pervasive and permanent."
And you should offer your personal expertise to your school district's special education administrator--as a liaison to families and the CSE (in the US) for the re-entry process.
And tell your mom she's a rock star for handling those gloomy early predictions!