Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis and School

About one in 1,000 children have Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis. The number of new cases each year is nine per 100,000 population. School can be a difficult place for children with arthritis – academically, socially, and behaviorally. Teachers can be great allies in keeping children with JRArthritis safe and successful in school. Author and parent Teri Mauro shares five things that all teachers should know.

The Arthritis Foundation website provides comprehensive information about the disease. In addition, the importance of regular exercise and physical fitness programs is addressed at the kidshealth.org website. According to CIGNA, the child’s teachers, school nurse, cafeteria staff, and physical education teachers can become helpful partners with parents as the child copes with JRA at school. They should work together to develop creative ways of dealing with the child’s limitations while making the best of his or her abilities. If the child has trouble walking distances, the child’s classes might be scheduled to minimize walking and stair climbing. If the child gets stiff sitting still during class, perhaps the teacher can encourage him or her to wiggle around and stretch during the class. If the child has trouble writing neatly, he or she might try using a larger pencil or pen. The school’s physical or occupational therapist may share more ideas. Be sure to learn about the child’s rights under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and other federal and state laws regarding the education of children with disabilities.