Own You IBD - School Support - Thriving with Crohn's disease

How can
educators help?

There are a number of positive steps that educators and schools can take to help young people living with Crohn’s disease (CD) feel supported and get the most out of their education.

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Enable flexible learning.

Young people living with Crohn’s disease may need more time or additional support to complete school work or exams. It is a good idea to come up with a personal learning plan that is tailored to meet the needs of each young person living with CD. This plan can include:

Prioritising work so that the most important subjects and tasks are done first. That way if a student can’t get everything done at least they will have the basics covered.

Planning for long absences from school by finding or developing learning resources and assessments that can be used from home or hospital. For example, would a student be able to use a video calling service to attend classes remotely?

Assigning less work when a student is going through a bad patch. It can be difficult to judge how much work a young person with CD is capable of handling at any given time. This should be discussed with the student, their parents and, if required, their healthcare team.

Making use of government provisions for students who are ill or experiencing personal hardships. The provisions allow these students to make alternative arrangements for completing their school work and sitting exams (e.g., New South Wales Education Standards Authority Disability Provisions; Victorian Curriculum and Assessment Authority Special Provision; South Australia Special Provisions in Curriculum and Assessment Policy; Queensland’s Policy on Special Provisions for School-based Assessments).

Develop a toilet access plan.

People with CD may need to use the bathroom frequently, sometimes with little warning. There is nothing worse for a young person with CD than having to call attention to themselves and their condition by constantly requesting permission to go to the bathroom during class. Consider giving any students with CD a ‘Class leave card’ that allows them to go to the bathroom without asking permission whenever they need to. A template for a Class leave card is available to download and print as part of the School support kit. If the school is big and has a number of bathrooms, it might also be a good idea to put together a bathroom map to help students with CD find the nearest facilities no matter which class they are in.

Help them feel included.

While the symptoms of CD can sometimes be difficult to manage, particularly during a flare, many young people with CD are able to live a ‘normal’ life most of the time. While educators should be aware of their condition and how it might affect them, they should try to avoid being over-protective of students with CD as this can make them feel singled-out and different from their peers. As long as they are physically and emotionally able, they should be allowed to participate in all school activities. With a bit of forward planning and preparation, there’s no reason why young people with CD should not be able to do sports, join clubs and go on field trips.

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