Health can be a day-by-day or hour-by-hour matter for kids with chronic illnesses. Going to school with their peers requires careful planning and attention to detail to keep them safe and healthy.
If you’re a parent in this situation, you may be wondering, “What can I do?”
Communication is key—setting up a meeting with administrators is the first step to helping your child manage his or her chronic illness at school.
Your child’s doctor can help by writing a letter explaining his or her conditions and any special accommodations those conditions require. According to Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, if the school receives federal funding, you may have the right to request an individualized education plan for your child.
If your child has food allergies:
- Work with the school to create a plan for giving your child medications he or she needs during an allergic reaction
- Discuss who will give the medication and where it will be stored
If your child has asthma:
- Purchase a spare inhaler to keep at the school nurse’s office, and teach your child how to use it. Check in with the school nurse every few months to see if your child needs a replacement
- Make the school aware of your child’s triggers. For example, if chalk is a trigger, ask teachers to use “dustless” chalk or dry-erase boards
If your child has attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder:
- Ask about the school’s policy for granting your child more time to complete exams, as well as standardized tests such as the SAT and ACT
- Discuss dividing big assignments into smaller ones and allowing frequent breaks
If your child has autism spectrum disorder:
- Ask teachers to incorporate various means of presentation (visual, physical guidance, peer modeling) into lessons to increase stimulation.