Everyone wants their child to be safe and healthy at school. When a child with sickle cell disease starts school, however, parents have greater cause for concern. Here are some tips to help work through these concerns.
Get off to a good start.
When starting a new school or a new grade, talk to the school staff and nurse about your child’s sickle cell disease.
Prepare a school kit.
Set up a folder or binder that has up-to-date information about your child. Give the binder to the school. In an emergency, they will have important information they may need about your child. The kit should include:
- A recent picture
- Family contact names and phone numbers
- Doctor name and phone number
- Prescription information
- Insurance information
- Brochures on sickle cell disease
Teach the teachers and school staff.
The younger your child, the more people need to know about the state of his or her health. Talk to the people who care for your child:
- Day care staff
- School nurse
- Physical education teacher and/or coach
- Recess monitor
- Bus driver
Explain what sickle cell disease is.
Answer any questions. Tell them about signs of a crisis and what to do when one happens. CVS Specialty can help you with this.
Talk about areas of concern.
Areas of concern for the school usually include field trips, physical education class, and playground equipment. Find out what field trips are planned, what they do in physical education class, and look over the playground. Most of the time it is okay for children with sickle cell disease to do all these activities.
Store extra medications.
Hospital emergency rooms may not always have the same type of medications that a child needs for sickle cell disease. You may want to keep medication doses at school in case your child needs to go to the hospital. The medication can go with your child. Store extra medications and know a plan for refrigeration or needs for narcotics at school.
Have a plan of action.
Write a plan of action on how a crisis should be handled. Stress with school staff that it is important to listen to your child if he or she says something is wrong. Many times a child can detect pain, fever or other symptoms of sickle cell crisis before outward signs appear. Your plan should include the child being able to keep a warm compress or heating pad with him or her at all times. Include when you would like to be called and when the school should call 911 first. Fever, extreme pain, shortness of breath, swollen feet or hands, complaints of numbness, weakness, slurred speech, change in mental status are considered new emergencies.
Your child can help.
If your child is older, encourage him or her to learn more about their condition. The more your child knows, the better he or she will be able to handle a medical problem. Their confidence can give you peace of mind.
For additional support, talk to your health care provider or call the CVS Specialty Sickle Cell Disease CareTeam at 1-844-641-0413.