A guide for teachers

Print page Reset all

What is juvenile idiopathic arthritis?

JIA can be described like this:

  • Juvenile means that the arthritis begins before the age of 16.
  • Idiopathic means that we don’t yet know what cause it.
  • Arthritis means that one or more joints are inflamed.
JIA is really a group of illnesses, put under the same name because they share similar symptoms.

What types of JIA are there?

There are several types of arthritis grouped together under the umbrella term JIA. The main types are:

Will treatments affect school life?

The best treatment is a combination of drugs and an active, regular programme of exercises. Some of the treatments for JIA may have an affect on a child's school day or may lead to them being absent for short periods.

How will JIA affect a young person in school?

Problems may include:

  • mobility (e.g. getting to and from school, moving around the premises)
  • hand function (e.g. difficulties in writing, using tools or doing physical tasks)
  • pain, which may cause tiredness, irritability and loss of concentration
  • stiffness, which characteristically occurs after prolonged sitting and in the mornings
  • fatigue
  • confidence and friendships
  • missing school days
  • difficulty with vision.

What should I look out for?

The best advice is to listen carefully to the young person and, if in doubt, talk to their parents. You should also tell their parents if you notice any difference in them.

Discussing a young person's needs

You'll probably need to discuss the following with the pupil, their parents and any relevant medical professionals:

  • Learning mentors
  • Pastoral support plan (PSP)
  • Individual education plan (IEP)
  • Common assessment framework (CAF)
  • Shared timetables
  • Statement of special educational needs

Working with schools – who can help?

All staff members can help to make the young person’s school life easier. The special educational needs co-ordinator (SENCO) and the school nurse may have very important roles in supporting the young person to get any medical, academic or emotional help they need.

What does the law say?

The following legislation concerns young people with special needs at school:

  • Education Act 1996
  • Special Educational Needs and Disability Act 2001
  • Equality Act 2010

Search arthritis information