School Health and HappinessChildren's medical conditions at school
Amidst all of the back-to-school bustle, some families must add their child's chronic medical condition to the list of September stresses.
If your child has a chronic condition like diabetes, asthma, or epilepsy, or if he or she has a significant food allergy, a little extra planning can ensure a safe, healthy, and low-stress school year. For instance, children with diabetes may need to be given insulin injections or check their blood sugar, and parents of a child with asthma may be concerned about air quality in the school. And school staff will need to know what to do in the event of an epileptic seizure or the signs to watch for if a child is exposed to a food allergen.
Every medical condition will call for slightly different measures and plans, but a few commonalities apply to most:
- Keep your child's emergency contact information as up-to-date and thorough as possible. List contacts in order of preference that they be called, and offer clearly marked alternative phone numbers for each, if available (mobile phone, work number, etc.). Include in this list the contact information for your child's pediatrician, primary physician, or dentist, as necessary.
- Inform the school of your child's condition. Write up a document including a brief medical history, medications your child requires, and details about your child's special needs and/or restrictions (physical activity, dietary considerations). Be clear, concise, and complete so that directives can be easily followed.
- Ask for a meeting with relevant school staff to discuss your child's emergency care plan. When it comes to your child's health, you want to hope for the best but prepare for the worst. You will need to work together with your child's school to draft a plan detailing the actions and responsibilities in case of an emergency. This plan may also include details about administering medication or treatments within the school day and during class field trips. Invitees to such a meeting may include your child's teacher, principal, school nurse, and P.E. coach; the coordinator of special needs services; as well as any aids or health care providers who may have helpful input. If your child is old enough, he or she should also be involved in the planning.
- Keep in touch. Check in with your child's teacher for any changes in behaviour or energy levels. Ask your child how things are going at school, if they take their medication as they should, if they feel different or are having any trouble with other children in regard to their condition. And be a strong advocate for your child's health by following up with the school to revisit or update your child's care and emergency plans.
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