Sometimes a child with chronic Migraine will end up missing a lot of school. This can cause a lot of distress to the student, teachers, and parents involved as they try to negotiate school with a chronically ill child. These are some of the accommodations and options available to students who medically qualify.
A 504 plan is a part of section 504 of the landmark Rehabilitation Act of 1973. The act prohibits discrimination based upon disability. The 504 plan goes on to offer accommodations for children who have an impairment that substantially limits major life activities and, thus, their ability to learn. Migraine is considered such a disability because it impairs the ability to learn. Disabilities are also covered under the Americans with Disabilities Act, which focuses on state and local government programs.
Most schools will have one person in charge of administrating the 504 plan process. Often, it is the school principal or counselor. If you have questions about whether this plan might be beneficial for your child, get in touch with your child’s school and set up a meeting to discuss all of your concerns.
When the school writes up a 504 plan for a child they will identify the issues and come up with modifications to give the child an “equal opportunity to education.” For example, an asthma case might allow more time to complete work missed due to asthma symptoms, or allowing an air purifier in the classroom. Children who are under a 504 plan will still be expected to perform and it in no way insures that your child will get good grades. The children under a 504 plan will also be expected to behave in accordance with school rules, and appropriate discipline will still be doled out for infractions.
Don’t let the name fool you: this is not homeschooling. In homebound education the school will meet and discuss how your child’s chronic illness is affecting his ability to learn. Generally the school counselor and principal will be involved in making the determination. Should your child qualify, a certified teacher will come to your house to go over the week’s lessons and your child will then have work to do at home.
This is an option that many of my friends who have chronically ill children have chosen to use. Note that in the U.S., the rules governing homeschooling can be drastically different from state to state. It is imperative that you know the rules for your state and are familiar with any curriculum they may be using. Homeschooling can also be more beneficial in areas where homeschooled children can learn or get together as a group, allowing eve more time for your child to socialize with peers that may be going though similar experiences.
If these options are confusing or you don’t see anything that is a good fit for your child, it is important to talk with your child’s counselor to see if they can find something else that might be a better fit.
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Jennifer Rackley is a nutritionist and mother of three girls. Two of her children have dealt with acid reflux disease, food allergies, migraines, and asthma. She has a Bachelor of Science in dietetics from Harding University and has done graduate work in public health and nutrition through Eastern Kentucky University. In addition to writing for HealthCentral, she does patient consults and serves on the Board of Directors for the Pediatric Adolescent Gastroesophageal Reflux Association.