Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis (JIA) and Education in Primary School Children

Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis (JIA) and Education in Primary School Children

Michele Gibbon (Children's Hospital of Eastern Ontario, Canada), Ciarán M. Duffy (Children's Hospital of Eastern Ontario, Canada), Gillian Taylor (McGill University Health Centre, Canada) and Sophie Laniel (McGill University Health Centre, Canada)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-9452-1.ch004
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This chapter per the authors describes the impact that juvenile idiopathic arthritis (JIA) has on the functioning of children within elementary school settings. Suggestions for teachers, educators and administrators regarding the ways in which they may assist children in adapting to obstacles encountered at school (academic and social), as they relate to the disease. Exploration of the partnership between a child with JIA, his/her family and members of the health care and educational teams is examined.
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Arthritis is frequently thought of as a disease of the elderly, but also affects younger individuals. The most common type of arthritis seen in adults is osteoarthritis – a degenerative form of the disease. Inflammatory arthritis, where joints become swollen and inflamed, most often afflicts young adults, frequently women of child-bearing age, but can also affect children and adolescents, and in this situation is referred to as Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis (JIA).

A diagnosis of JIA often comes as a shock to many families, who must then work their way through a series of complex and overlapping emotions, including shock, disbelief, fear/anxiety, helplessness, denial, worry, frustration and ultimately acceptance. They will experience these emotions as they attempt to come to terms with and confront the associated challenges of the disease (Gomez-Ramirez et al., 2014), many of which, affect children’s abilities to fully participate in learning and social activities. It is important therefore, that families receive appropriate support, not only from members of the health care team, but also from other family members and friends, as well as individuals within the educational system. Assistance received from teachers, principals, administrators, coaches and volunteers within a child’s school will play a vital role in ensuring that both the health and educational needs of children with JIA are fully met. For this to occur however, teachers must be provided with the relevant material about the disease and its day-to-day management (including information regarding the individual needs of a given child and possible adaptive interventions) so that they are sufficiently familiar with the challenges that it may impose. To aid teachers in this process, this chapter endeavours to provide them with basic knowledge regarding JIA and its treatment and to describe the specific challenges associated with the disease, especially as they relate to school and schoolwork, and ways in which those obstacles may be overcome.

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