Sickle cell disease: Making a plan for school

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Learn about some of the accommodations that may be available to make school more comfortable for your teen with sickle cell disease. Also find tips for communicating your teen's needs to their teachers.

Key points

  • Your teen may be able to receive accommodations to make school more comfortable.
  • A good way for your teen to get support or accommodations is for them to talk directly to their teachers about problems they are having and possible changes that can help them succeed.
  • It may sometimes be helpful for you to talk with your child's teachers or other school staff as well.

Communicating with teachers and other school staff is an important way for your teen to get support at school. They may be able to receive accommodations that will make school more comfortable, such as changing their school schedule, being allowed to stand up and stretch during class or getting a second set of textbooks (one for home and another for school to reduce the burden of carrying books around).

A good way for your teen to get support at school is for them to talk directly to their teachers about the problems they are having. Your teen should be encouraged to talk about possible changes that may help them succeed in the classroom. In some cases, it may be helpful for you to also talk with your teen's teacher.

Common school accommodations

Below are some school-related accommodations that other teens and parents have discussed with school staff. Think about whether any of them might benefit your teen.

  • Permission for health-related absences
  • Extensions on test and homework due dates
  • Permission to use the restroom when needed
  • An extra set of textbooks to keep at home
  • Stretching, sitting or moving breaks when needed
  • Access to the school counselor
  • Permission to take medication at school
  • Permission to practise relaxation strategies in the classroom or in another location (for example, the nurse’s office)
  • Permission to change your teen’s school schedule to a later arrival or earlier departure time

Tip: Ask your teen if they would like to have any changes to their school setup. This not only helps you find out their needs but also lets you practise listening to what your teen has to say. If your teen is not sure what changes could be made, you could share the list on this page.

Communicating about your teen's school needs

It can be helpful for you to talk with your teen’s teachers and school administrators about how to make school more comfortable for your teen. Working with the school is an ongoing process and one that you may or may not have already started.

Here are some tips for communicating with teachers about your teen’s needs at school.

  • Make sure that your teen’s teachers understand that your teen has sickle cell disease and experiences pain and that they are not always feeling their best at school.
  • Clearly state that you want your teen to be in school as much as possible and that you do not want them to be sent home each time they complain of pain. It will be harder for your teen to learn new ways to cope with pain if important adults at school encourage them to go home rather than try new ways of managing pain to increase time spent in school.
  • Investigate what is going on at school. Talk to school staff about whether your teen has other reasons for not wanting to go to school (such as a fear of public speaking, bullying, fighting with friends, not liking a teacher). If there is another reason for your teen not wanting to go to school, use the problem-solving steps (from Problem solving 1 and Problem solving 2) to develop solutions to try to help your teen.

Last updated: March 15th 2024