What your child's teachers need to know about lupus
Read the following tips to learn more about what school officials, staff, and teachers need to know about lupus. Educate those around you and your child so that they understand lupus and its disease manifestations.
- Exposure to direct sunlight or fluorescent lights can cause a flare of lupus. Use sunblock and sun protective clothing, and put light shields on overhead fluorescent lights.
- Noncompliance with therapy and daily care, infections, and stress factors can cause lupus to flare.
- Make sure children and teens are up to date on all vaccinations and follow good personal hygiene practices, like frequent hand washing.
- Children and teens can bring in food from home or eat in the cafeteria. No matter where their meals are coming from, they should have access to healthy, low sodium meals and plenty of hydrating liquids.
- The school nurse can assist with medication that needs to be taken during school hours.
- If the child is hospitalized frequently, more time may be needed to complete assigned work. If so, speak with your child's rheumatologist, their school teachers and other key staff at the school.
- Disease activity may cause difficulty with memory and concentration. Keep your child's rheumatologists updated about any changes you observe, as this may impact their treatment.
- Children with lupus should have good dietary habits, rest time, and to the extent possible, decreased stress levels.
- School assignments and daily activities should be organized to avoid the rush of doing everything at one time.
- Sports and other daily activities may need to be decreased or temporarily stopped during a flare. Once students have recovered from a lupus flare, activities can almost always be resumed.
- To minimize the swollen face/neck that comes with steroid therapy, follow a low salt/low sugar diet, with three meals and three snacks in the correct portion for the child or teen's age.
- Changes in behavior can be caused by the disease, by medications (e.g., steroids in high doses), or by the stress of being a child or teen coping with a chronic illness. A plan for addressing each of these issues can be formulated with the child or teen's rheumatologist--there are positive ways to address each of these issues.
- If there are issues affecting social or school performance, parents should discuss with rheumatologist. If necessary, they may suggest special accomodations for school, providing a note to that effect. School teachers and other key members of the staff at school should be brought into the discussion as well.
- Family and friends' support and understanding of lupus disease activity are very important!
Additional content provided by Laura E. Schanberg, MD and Stacy P. Ardoin, MD