School partners for children with juvenile rheumatoid arthritis

Your child's teachers, school nurse, cafeteria staff, and physical education teachers can become helpful partners as your child copes with juvenile rheumatoid arthritis (JRA) at school.

If you can, meet with your child's teachers and help them learn about JRA. Work with them to develop creative ways of dealing with your child's limitations and making the best of his or her abilities.

  • If your child has trouble walking distances, see whether your child's classes can be scheduled to minimize walking and stair climbing. It may also help to have two sets of books for classes. One set can be left in the classrooms, and the other can be kept at home so your child doesn't have to carry them to and from school.
  • If your child gets stiff sitting still during class, encourage him or her to wiggle around and stretch during the class. Help the teacher and other students understand that this isn't just "fidgeting." Ask that your child be allowed to get up and walk around a bit during class if possible (perhaps to collect homework or pass out assignments).
  • If your child has trouble writing neatly, he or she might try using a larger pencil or pen. Wrapping foam around a pencil to make it easier to grip may help. An older child may be able to use a tape recorder to take notes. Ask for the teacher's acceptance and understanding of occasional messy handwriting.
  • Ask your child's physical or occupational therapist for other ideas. There are many ways to modify activities and school work. The Arthritis Foundation publishes a pamphlet for teachers of children with arthritis that may be helpful.
  • Be aware of your child's rights under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and other federal and state laws regarding the education of children with disabilities. The Arthritis Foundation is a source of information about these laws.

Last Updated: June 25, 2008

Author: Shannon Erstad, MBA/MPH

Medical Review: Michael J. Sexton, MD - Pediatrics & Stanford M. Shoor, MD - Rheumatology

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