Family Counselor and Life Coach Hatice Bilgili said that a safe environment should be created in every aspect for the health and education of children struggling with chronic illness during school. Stating that following the physiological and psychological conditions of children with chronic diseases and the conscious approach of teachers increase the motivation of children, Bilgili said, “It is important for teachers and families to act carefully in order to protect the health of these children and ensure their success in their education life. The most common chronic diseases in childhood are asthma, cancer, cystic fibrosis, cerebral palsy, chronic kidney failure, malnutrition, diabetes, epilepsy and autism. In addition, obesity, attention and hyperactivity disorder are very common in children.
‘THEY MAY NEED SUPPORT’
Stating that chronic disease is a condition that requires medical care and affects children physically, psychosocially and academically, Bilgili said, “The daily needs of children with chronic diseases may differ from their healthy peers. These children have physical needs related to medication, measurement, nutrition, movement, respiration and excretion at school. In addition, children with chronic diseases may show psychosocial and behavioral changes compared to their other friends. They may need support to increase their motivation. For this reason, children struggling with chronic diseases should be supported psychosocially. They also need to feel safe. It should not be forgotten that chronic diseases continue 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and there are no holidays such as holidays or weekends.
HOW SHOULD FAMILIES AND TEACHERS MANAGE THE SCHOOL PROCESS?
Bilgili noted that it is very important for children, families and educators to cooperate in order to manage the process in a healthy way, and said:
“A safe environment should be provided for the health and education of the child with a chronic disease. It is our duty to provide this environment for children. Chronic disease should never be hidden and shared with the school administration. It should be noted that chronic diseases are not contagious. School officials should be informed about the child’s chronic illness and the way of care. The diet, medications and the intervals at which these drugs should be taken should be shared with the school nurse or guidance counselor and class teacher. If there is a device used by the child, information should be given about the use of this device. Brochures, booklets, guides, web addresses and contact information of the center where the child is followed should be shared; emergencies and what to do in an emergency should be explained. If a shuttle is used for transportation, the same information must be shared with the shuttle driver and service officer. It is very important to provide a suitable and clean environment for the use of drugs, blood sugar measurement and injection, especially in children with diabetes. A suitable environment should be created to meet these needs. If there is a special nutrition plan, the school dietitian should be consulted and informed. Children may be absent during periods of treatment or discomfort. This may negatively affect their academic achievement and motivation. When they return to school, their motivation should be increased and their deficiencies should be eliminated by repeating the courses they could not attend. Teachers and students should be informed by giving seminars on chronic diseases in schools.”