Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis (JIA) is an umbrella term for arthritis in childhood. It affects one in a thousand children.
If you have a student with JIA, liaise with the school’s Student Services Team. It is a good idea to have a check box on admission forms.
How to help students manage their JIA
Independence is an important issue for students with JIA
Solution – allow students with arthritis to do things for themselves (make sure class members are aware of this too) – they should ask for assistance if required; discipline should be the same as for their peers
The student with JIA may experience pain and stiffness due to prolonged periods either sitting or standing
Solution – ensure accessible seating is provided inside and outside the classroom; periodically call on the student to perform a task involving gentle movement; special considerations may be required for exams and assessments: extra time, allowance for ‘stretch breaks’
The student may experience vision difficulties or be sensitive to light
Solution – location in class is important; check their eyes – a red inflamed eye will require urgent attention
Stiffness in the mornings can be an issue
Solution – plan a passive activity as the first activity for the day; understand that the child may not arrive on time every morning
Fatigue levels vary from time to time
Solution – alternate passive with active activities throughout the day; provide a suitable area for the child to rest if required; understand that homework may take longer at times.
An inflammatory phase requires that joints be protected and the amount of physical activity should vary
Solution – if the student has splints, ensure they are used; be aware of alternative exercises the student can perform if unable to participate in the planned Physical Education activity
The student may have difficulty carrying books and equipment
Solution – arrange two sets of books/equipment; photocopy relevant pages for homework from textbooks. Older students may be able to do the photocopying.
Young people with JIA will usually be taking medication
Solution – refer to your school’s policy for managing medications that need to be taken during a school day
More detailed information is contained in this download. Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis Information
Poster JIA Poster with pictures
It is difficult to find materials that have children as their audiences – most are directed at parents as are these websites.