Information for parents: At school
School can present unique challenges and concerns for young people with psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis, whether they are in elementary, middle or high school. Your child may be embarrassed about their psoriasis showing or that their psoriatic arthritis will prevent them from keeping up with classmates in PE or at recess. They may be worried about staring or teasing from other kids. Or, they may have challenges fitting treatment into their school day.
You can help your child be successful at school by educating them about psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis, discussing concerns, and sharing information with their teachers and other staff.
Helping your child through the school year
- Prepare your child with the facts about psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis. Reassuring your child and his or her classmates that these diseases are not contagious and can't be "caught" may help your child feel more comfortable in social situations.
- Encourage your child to talk about how it feels to have psoriasis or psoriatic arthritis so that classmates will have a better understanding of the disease. They can hand out our Kids Cards to help reinforce the message to classmates.
- Talk with your child's teacher and other important adults at school (i.e., coaches, principal, school nurse, bus driver, etc.). If they hear a comment being made, misinformation being shared, or notice teasing, they can be your child's advocate by providing accurate information to support your child. Our Caregiver's Handouts can help.
- Recognize that as children get older, the questions they have about their psoriasis or psoriatic arthritis will be more advanced, and their feelings about their disease may change. Provide them with ongoing, age-appropriate education about their disease.
- Factor in the school schedule when choosing a treatment regimen. Is it possible to do the treatment after school? If not, will leaving for treatment affect grades, or attendance, or cause your child to miss too much class content? It's important to develop a good rapport with a dermatologist and/or rheumatologist who will work with you and your child to create a treatment regiment that will treat the disease and not be a burden on the child or school.
- If necessary, work with your school district to create an independent education plan (IEP) for your child. An IEP allows for modifications to be made within the regular education setting that will help your child be successful. For a child with psoriasis, this might include an allowance that your child can visit the counselor's office for support or nurse's office for creams or medications if needed. For a child with psoriatic arthritis, this might include provisions that allow them to have alternate testing instead of a timed writing or arithmetic test if arthritis affects joints in their hands and makes gripping a pencil painful. A written IEP contains specific goals and modifications for the student's school program that are legally binding.
If your child has psoriatic arthritis, visit the Juvenile Arthritis Alliance for further information and resources for helping your child be successful at school.