Sometimes going to school with JA can be like an obstacle course. Those early mornings, those steps, gym class, and those heavy books! It’s like monsters crawling out of every hallway! But if you’re prepared, JA ninja, you can handle anything!
Your parents may be able to work with the school on plans called 504s or IEPs. Ask them about that. In the meantime, here are some ways to warrior through your days.
To PE or not to PE
You may not be able to do gym class. Make sure you or your parents talk to your school to get this all arranged so that you don’t have to feel awkward while everyone else is doing burpees. You might be able to do part of PE or have to skip it completely. Maybe you can go do something else or work in a classroom with a favorite teacher instead.
If you have trouble traveling long distances inside the school, let your parents or the school know. Help is possible. Someone may be able to carry your books or you may be able to keep a set of books at home and in each classroom. The school can work out a way to assist you from class to class. Help identify the problem and you are halfway to finding the solution!
Such a pain in the you-know-what
That desk chair is biting into your behind. Think about bringing a pillow for the seat. Hey, explain to the teacher and maybe she’ll let everybody bring a cushion so you won’t stand out!
Those tardy slips are piling up!
Many kids with JA are sore and stiff in the morning and need some extra time to warm up. Taking time for a warm bath or for joints to “wake up” could mean you’ll be late. More than once. Some kids get very embarrassed about being tardy.
Kiana S. knows what that feels like, but she still wants to go to school so she doesn’t fall too far behind. “Sometimes my mom takes me to school late because the stiffness and pain doesn't last the whole day and she knows I like to be in school with my friends, ” the 10-year-old says.
Your parents can talk to your teachers and the school about this so that you don’t get in trouble for starting late. The other kids may be jealous that you get to start later, but you can explain to them that you are just revving up your engines!
If you have to take medicine at school, you’ll probably have to go to the office or to the school nurse, if there is one available. Don’t worry; you won’t be the only kid doing this.
Help, my [fill in the blank] isn’t working today
Kids with JA have those days. Your fingers aren’t working very well today. Your knees don’t want to climb the stairs. You really can’t take one more minute of pain. What to do? It’s good to be prepared. Have an emergency buddy (a teacher, friend, or parent) who can be contacted in a time of need in case you have to go home or need an extra pair of hands to help you with something. Ask for extra time to take a test or do homework if you’re clumsy with the pencil. Don’t feel bad; kids with attention disorders and other issues get more time, too. It’s not cheating. Everyone needs a little help sometimes.
Can you play a school sport? You’ll have to learn how to manage your energy (or lack of it), but lots of kids with JA do play sports when they’re in remission or their symptoms are under control. Jordan S. was the caption of his football team! It’s great if your coach knows about your JA so he can help you succeed.
Sometimes kids just can’t make it into school and take cyber classes from home. It’s a good way to keep up with classes, but it can be lonely. If you can, invite friends over after school or on the weekends for some social time. Then you’ll still know what’s going on when you’re well enough to get back to class!