As back to school season either enters full swing or looms ahead, we know it can be a stressful time for parents of kids with medical conditions or chronic disease. Here are some of our tips to ease that stress and set your child up for a healthy and successful year.
- Diabetes: Ensure that teachers and school staff understand how to respond to hypoglycemia (low blood sugar). Ensure your child has emergency glucose nearby at all times, including in their backpack, desk, and in each of their classrooms, and that special plans are made for physical education classes, field trips, tests, and substitute teachers. Make sure, where applicable, kids can have choices about how they manage their diabetes—like what kind of medical ID bracelet or necklace to wear. Read more here.
- Epilepsy: Collaborate with the school to ensure a seizure action plan is made, or, if a child has potentially less-noticeable seizures (such as absence seizures or some simple partial seizures), that educators understand how to identify and act on a seizure episode. Kids can, of course, choose what type of medical ID to wear, while parents should be mindful of what will be safest with their child’s type of seizures—very long necklaces may pose a hazard during a seizure that could cause a sudden fall or jerking/shaking movements.
- Food allergies/anaphylactic risk: As with all medical conditions, keep the child at the centre of navigating severe allergies while at school. As noted above with epilepsy and diabetes, kids can choose their medical ID jewelry, and have input on how they will stay safe at school—how they prefer to carry their epinephrine auto-injector and other allergy supplies, as well as sharing ideas of how to stay safe when food allergies are a concern and school celebrations involve food—if a treat is being served, what would they prefer to have on hand at school as a special alternative? Read more about managing severe allergies at school here. Remember also to keep an extra epinephrine auto-injector at school and note their expiry dates.
- Asthma: Create an asthma action plan with your child’s school and doctor, and educate teachers/staff on how to identify your child’s asthma symptoms if your child struggles to communicate them him/herself, and also to explain how to identify an asthma emergency. Give kids options of where to store their inhalers to ensure they’re accessible, and teach both the child and the school staff how to use the inhalers properly. Help kids to know their personal asthma triggers that might impact them at school, and make a plan for their involvement in physical activity if they have exercise induced asthma, as well as outside time during allergy seasons if allergies or heat are of concern, or during winter if cold weather causes breathing issues. Read more about going back to school with asthma here—and be wary of the September Asthma Peak, an increase in asthma symptoms and severe attacks around Back to School time in September, due to heat, infection and allergies.