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School and arthritis

Your child's arthritis doesn't have to stop them enjoying school and doing well there. Some early planning, plenty of communication with teachers and listening to your child can make a big difference.

Talk to teachers

Regular two-way communication with your child’s school is recommended. Telling school staff about your child’s arthritis as soon as possible is very sensible. Teachers can look out for difficulties (physical or emotional) and help.

An early meeting with the school, involving your child and possibly a member of your rheumatology team, would help.The sooner you can do this after diagnosis, or before your child is about to start at a new school, the better.

The teachers may never have heard of a young person having arthritis before so this will be a good chance to tell them about your child’s condition, symptoms and limitations, and how staff can help your child.

School staff sometimes struggle with the fact that arthritis in young people can vary so much from day to day and also that many of the symptoms are invisible. Highlighting these facts, as well as how the condition and medication may make your child tired or lethargic if this is true, can help understanding. 

Teachers have a responsibility and even a legal duty to provide the best standard of teaching, and schools are obliged to encourage inclusivity. Your child’s arthritis mustn't mean that their experience of school life is any less supported, successful, fulfilling or enjoyable than their peers'.Anything you can do to help support your school to make sure that happens will benefit your child.

Encourage teachers and school staff to read our information for teachers for more on how they can best help young people with arthritis.

Absences from school

Your child will need to visit hospital regularly for check-ups and exercise advice. Usually this means going every 3–6 months to an outpatients department for specialist advice.

Young people with arthritis rarely have to stay overnight in hospital. This usually only happens if they’re very ill with systemic-onset JIA or if it’s more convenient to stay a few days while having various tests and treatments.

Hospitals will encourage you to stay with your child and will also provide facilities for play and school lessons.


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