Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Children with a Chronic Ilness: School Attendance Issues


The new school year is in full swing, and I hope everyone had a positive start to the year. 

In this post, I am going to address school attendance. All states have “compulsory attendance” laws on the books, stating that a child who fails to attend school for a specific number of days is considered truant, unless the absences fall under a specified list of excused absences, which includes absence due to illness. However, when the number of “excused absences” becomes too much, some schools threaten to bring truancy charges against the parents or threaten loss of credit or advancement to the next grade. 

Children with a chronic illness often experience frequent or extended absences as well as frequent medical visits. It is currently estimated that 18% of all school-aged children live with some type of chronic illness. Of those children, 58% routinely miss school and 10% miss more than 25% of the school year.  As noted in one of my previous posts, however, children with disabilities, including those with a chronic illness, are protected by a number of federal laws. Schools cannot legally penalize a child with a documented disability (or that child’s parents) when that child misses school due to the disability.  Schools are required to accommodate a child with a disability and, in the case of a chronic illness, the health needs of that child. This includes accommodating frequent absences.

I have heard from quite a few parents that schools are giving them a hard time when their child with a chronic illness, such as dystonia, has frequent absences due to that illness. In addition to threatening to not promote a student to the next grade, I have heard that some schools have required a child with dystonia to stay at home and receive instruction from a visiting teacher once or twice a week (homebound instruction). I have even heard about one family where the school suggested they pull the child out of the school system and homeschool him! Parents can, and should, insist that their schools do better at meeting the needs of children with a chronic illness. 

There are steps you can take to help ensure that your child has the opportunity to reach his or her full potential and be educated in the least “restrictive environment,” such as in a classroom with nondisabled peers. The best way to accomplish this is to make sure your child has a “health plan” as part of a “504 Plan” or as part of an IEP.  That plan should include the fact that the child may have frequent absences due to the illness, and state an appropriate protocol for accommodating those absences.  The school should work with you to create strategies for allowing your child to be in the classroom as much as possible, with specific additional support for your child if they are unable to attend school due to illness.

Examples of such strategies or accommodations may include, but are not limited to:

  • Reducing the child’s workload to core concepts
  • Utilizing technology to allow the teacher to directly communicate with the student if the student is absent for more than one day
  • Allowing for creative recess activities
  • Counting Physical Therapy as a Physical Education credit
  • Providing additional instruction after an absence to enable the student to make up necessary work
  • Having a plan for easy re-entry to classroom after an absence
  • Building-up to a full day schedule

The key is having a plan of action in place, and not waiting until after your child experiences frequent or prolonged absences. 

Creating this plan requires communication and team work between the school administration, teachers and parents. Even your child’s medical team can play an important role.  You, the parent, may need to educate the school about your child’s illness. School personnel are not likely to be experts about dystonia. In fact, it is likely that your child will be the first child with dystonia they have worked with.  That is OK. Your goal is to get the most comprehensive and best education possible for your child as well as to help him or her successfully and confidently adjust to living with a chronic illness. The school’s goal is to provide your child access to the educational process so as to enable him or her to reach educational milestones along with his or her peers. Only by working together can parents and schools ensure that these goals will be realized.The first step is, of course, having an IEP or “504 Plan” in place. These documents, created in accordance with federal law, are your child’s best protection. As noted previously, a school’s act of providing benevolent “accommodations” without one of these documents is not enough.  Adding a “health plan” to these documents will serve to address your child’s specific special health needs, including a plan for when your child is absent.

It is possible that there may be a period during your child’s education when both you and the school agree that your child’s health requires that your child stay home and receive homebound instruction.  This placement is the most restrictive educational placement and should only be considered if necessary for the wellbeing of your child. However, there are many ways to make sure homebound instruction is an educationally productive and positive time for your child.

Please remember: parents are natural advocates for their children. It is important to know the law, stay informed and work collaboratively with the schools. Until next time...

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  9. I am Shelley from Los Angeles,California, I want to testify on how i got cured from cervical dystonia, I have suffered from cervical dystonia since the year 2011 with so mush pain,that i have to spend so mush money getting pain relief in the hospital, and I have visited several doctor ,but all to no avail, my world was gradually coming to an end because of the constant muscle contractions and pain , until i saw a post in a health forum about a herbal Dr Williams who use herbal portion in curing people from different kind of diseases including dystonia, at first i doubted if it we be able to cure me, but i decided to give it a try, when i contacted this herbal doctor via his email, he prepared a herbal portion and sent it to me via courier service, when i received this herbal medicine, he gave me step by step instructions on how to apply it, when i applied it as instructed, i was completely free from dystonia just for 1 months of usage,i we recommend this to all my friend family in the world today who still suffering from dystonia you can contact him through his email on drwilliams098675@gmail.com for help.

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  10. ALL THANKS TO DR WILLIAMS FOR THE GREAT DEED HE HAVE DONE FOR MY DAUGHTER?
    My daughter suffered from dystonia for more than 7 years which we started experiencing in her when she turned 4 year and 5 months we all thought it will end but got even worse as days went by. We tried all several treatments and therapy prescribed by various doctors we met but to no avail, she lost total concentration and always complain of  neck discomfort. She usually tells me she haves jerky head movements. This were steady disorder that disrupted her entire life, even at night she slept less because of this.It was during a casual conversation with a friend that i learned about Dr Williams herbal medicine I was able to contact him on his email address. and give him all the necessary information that he needed,few day later he sent me the herbal portion and his medicine was able to restore her back to normal and she is very okay now without any side effects whatsoever. If you have dystonia, do not hesitate to contact him on drwilliams098675@gmail.com for advice and for his product. I hope this also helps someone out there.

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  11. As a sign of gratitude for how my son was saved from dystonia , i decided to reach out to those still suffering from this.
    My son suffered dystonia  and it was really tough and heartbreaking for me because he was my all and the symptoms were terrible, we tried various therapies prescribed by our neurologist but none could cure him. I searched for a cure and i saw a testimony of so many people who was cured from dystonia  and so many other with similar body problem, and they left the contact of this doctor who had the herbal cure to  dystonia  . I never imagined  dystonia has a cure not until i contacted him and he assured me my son will be fine. I got the herbal medication he recommended and my son used it and in one months he was fully okay even up till this moment he is so full of life. dystonia  has a cure and it is a herbal cure contact the doctor for more info on drwilliams098675@gmail.com on how to get the medication. Thanks for reading my testimony .

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  13. Dear FRIENDS,
    now i have a beautiful smiling face and so are which you all, after reading my testimony. My name is kate, I am 31 years old,
    And i live with my husband in Belgium, but I am from UK. I was diagnosed in 2012 with cervical dystonia. Doctors told me this condition was forever. I know how you feel and what you are going through,  I just want to tell you that I am cured now,with the help of doctor williams herbal medication, the last time I can remember having cervical dystonia was in the summer of 2016. It was a long and difficult process but I am so thankful to dr williams I don't have it anymore. Please know you can be cured too. Accept what happened and is happening to you, forgive, let the past go, love yourself and others unconditionally and be thankful. Everything happens for a reason. If you want to get in contact with dr williams and share your own testimony and thoughts feel free to e-mail him on; drwilliams098675@gmail.com for advice and for his product.

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  14. As a sign of gratitude for how my son was saved from dystonia , i decided to reach out to those still suffering from this.
    My son suffered dystonia  and it was really tough and heartbreaking for me because he was my all and the symptoms were terrible, we tried various therapies prescribed by our neurologist but none could cure him. I searched for a cure and i saw a testimony of so many people who was cured from dystonia  and so many other with similar body problem, and they left the contact of this doctor who had the herbal cure to  dystonia  . I never imagined  dystonia has a cure not until i contacted him and he assured me my son will be fine. I got the herbal medication he recommended and my son used it and in one months he was fully okay even up till this moment he is so full of life. dystonia  has a cure and it is a herbal cure contact the doctor for more info on drwilliams098675@gmail.com on how to get the medication. Thanks for reading my testimony .

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