Back-to-school-time can be daunting, especially for a parent whose child has special medical needs. Halza is here to make sure that you, your child, and the school all understand how those needs will be met.
As Soon As Possible: Visit the Pediatrician And Fill Out Required Forms
If your child has not yet been seen by their pediatrician for their check-up and school health-forms, now is the time to go. Pediatricians get very busy in the ‘crunch time’ before school starts so don’t wait until the last minute.
Inform, And Be Informed
Some countries have a standard form or forms that describe the treatment and any accommodations needed.
Unfortunately, many conditions are more complicated to manage than described on the form. If this is the case, have a conversation with the school administrator, the teacher, and the school nurse before school begins.
The nurse will most likely be familiar with your child’s medical condition, but the administration and teachers might not be. The form is only one-way communication. You need to know how the school will respond to the information in the form
It can be helpful to provide a simple one-page explanation of the condition – particularly as it relates to your child’s time in school or homework. If your child has recognizable signs of distress that are specific to your child, tell the teacher.
For example, one child with diabetes might become giggly when their blood sugar drops, while another might become shaky. Don’t rely on the form to tell the whole story.
On the first day of school, confirm with the teacher and nurse that any previously discussed arrangements for your child have been made.
Does the procedure change if there is a substitute teacher in the classroom?
Is there a backup teacher in a nearby classroom and does your child know who they are?
Get Medications and/or Equipment Ready
If you are going to keep medication and/or medical supplies, batteries, etc. at school, ensure that you have enough for both home and school.
Medication given to the school must be in the original prescription bottles labeled by the pharmacy. If you can only get a limited supply at a time, ask the pharmacist to label a second bottle and to divide the supply into the two labeled bottles.
Make sure that the nurse knows if the medication must be refrigerated.
For regularly scheduled medication, ask:
If the school does not have a nurse, where will the medication be kept and who will administer it?
Will the school advise you when the supply is running low and needs to be refilled? (Even if the answer is yes, this can easily be overlooked so it’s smart to check in with the school occasionally}.
If the medication must be taken with food, will food be available, or does the parent provide it?
Will the teacher remind your child about taking the medication or will your child be expected to remember?
Will someone accompany your child to the nurse’s office, at least in the beginning?
Is there a particular time that works best for your child to go to the nurse with minimal disruption?
Some medications are only taken when the child feels symptomatic. These medications must be taken immediately in order to prevent an emergency situation from developing. Examples include glucose tablets and asthma inhalers.
For medication taken as needed, or in emergencies, ask:
If your child needs medication at unpredictable times, how will the child convey this to the teacher – and will the child be comfortable telling the teacher during a lesson?
Can the child’s medication be kept in the classroom and is the teacher allowed to hand it to the child or to administer it? Under what circumstances?
If only the nurse may administer it, how will the child get to the nurse? How long would it take for a nurse to come to the classroom in an emergency? Does the nurse leave the building for lunch?
A child who needs medication to prevent an emergency should never leave the classroom without a responsible escort.
In the Classroom
Some children have conditions that can impact their functioning in the classroom. A few examples are:
Cochlear implants or hearing aids. Tell the teacher if your child’s hearing is still impaired, and if the child relies to some degree on lip-reading and clear enunciation. What should the teacher do if the equipment gets wet, disconnected, or the battery runs out?
Glasses – how will they be protected during gym class? Is the child’s vision fully corrected?
Braces – depending on the type of brace, children might walk more slowly than their classmates, might have difficulty writing, doing fine motor movements, or might have limitations in gym class or difficulty sitting on the floor. The teacher should consider any limitations when planning activities for the class so as not to cause embarrassment to the child.
Make sure that your child understands and will comply with any arrangements made for his/her condition. Tell the teacher if your child is uncomfortable with attention paid to his or her condition.
It may be helpful to explain your child’s condition to the other children in the class. Discuss this with your child and your child’s teacher and decide who will explain it to the class. Teachers are experts at knowing what children can understand at different ages, but you are the expert on your child’s condition.
Make sure that all of the children understand that your child’s condition is not contagious. Children have vivid imaginations and limited knowledge, and they might avoid your child in order to avoid catching the condition.
Last but Not Least
Sending a child with special needs to school can be daunting, but if you are well-prepared and have established a respectful relationship with the school staff, you will find it much easier. Do be sure to keep the school updated about any changes in medication, treatment, or routine. And finally, know that your child can sense your concerns. Speak to the teacher about your concerns – not your child.
And finally, look forward to an exciting new time in your child’s life!
How Halza Can Help
Keeping track of your child’s medical records can be tedious amidst everything else you have to do. Halza is here to help!
Upload all of your child’s records to one convenient, easily accessible location – your mobile phone. The Halza app also lets you set medicine reminders, so your child never misses a dose. Record all the vaccinations your child needs to stay healthy and also keep track of necessary booster shots on the app.
Introducing the features Growth Book and Dental! Chart your child’s growth against World Health Organization (WHO) and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) standards to keep a closer eye on their height, weight, and head circumference. Store all of your child’s dental information, from x-rays, to braces and wisdom teeth withe ease.