Back to School…with Juvenile Arthritis

For a parent of a child with Juvenile Arthritis, September’s approach means far more than just the buying of school supplies and new clothes. It also requires some special preparation for your child’s new teachers, daycare providers, coaches and more. Despite being such a common condition in children, many teachers are still unaware that kids can get arthritis and most will have had limited, if any, experience teaching children with this disease.

As such, we suggest you set up a meeting with your child’s teacher(s) within the first couple weeks of the school year. Depending on the age of your child and how severe their disease, what you choose to discuss may differ. Some topics we suggest as important to cover include:

  • Which joints are affected and how the joint pain or stiffness may limit performance in school work or participation in classes such as physical education. Try to emphasize that symptoms may fluctuate over the course of the day, week or month.
  • Which medications your child is taking and the side effects she experiences as a result.
  • Expectation of absences due to doctors appointments and late arrivals due to morning stiffness.
  • Asking the teachers to report any symptoms that they observe during the school day
  • Awareness of sadness or embarrassment as a result of your child being “different” from their peers.

Remember your child’s teacher will be spending several hours each day with your child. They may notice physical or emotional changes that you haven’t seen at home. An open line of communication will be important for your child’s success during the school year.

Cassie and Friends may be able to assist with awareness about Juvenile Arthritis at your child’s school. One of the programs we offer is The Kids on the Block puppet performance. This show is offered free of charge to elementary age students in kindergarten to Grade 4. See Programs tab for more information.