Going to school is the single most important responsibility of every child and teenager. Up to 60 percent of a child’s waking hours may be spent at school or in school-related activities, so it is important that these activities be as positive and enriching as possible.
For a child with a rheumatic disease like arthritis, getting the most out of school activities can be a challenge. Many times special adjustments need to be made, and when all members of the team (child, parents, healthcare team, school staff) work together, it can make school a positive experience.
The key to making things work at school is good communication between the school staff and the family. Most schools are willing to make necessary changes as long as they are given information. It is very helpful to meet with the teacher (or principal, school nurse, physical education teacher) after your child is diagnosed with a rheumatic disease to discuss your child’s health and special needs. It also may be helpful for someone from your child’s healthcare team to call or meet with the school staff (parents must give written permission).
- Information about your child’s illness, medications and special needs
- To understand that rheumatic diseases can change from day to day, morning to afternoon, or even hour to hour
To know about any possible problems your child might have at school (walking up stairs, holding a pencil, carrying heavy books, missing school for doctor appointments, flare-ups)