Migraines at School - Helpful Forms, Reducing Stigma, and More

by Teri Robert Patient Advocate

Migraines are difficult enough for adults, let alone children, and migraines at school? Well, that can be a problem that leaves children, parents, teachers, school nurses, school administrators, and other involved parties frustrated and often at a loss.

Zero-tolerance policies about students having medications at school, the lack of knowledge and understanding on the part of the adults in charge, and the stigma associated with migraine all play their part in making school years miserable for students from preschool through college.

As a parent and grandparent, I find this totally unacceptable and would go to any lengths to be sure that this didn't happen to the children in my life. This is especially important to me because I remember all too well my school years and being accused of faking or exaggerating and professors who would fail me in their classes if I were to miss exams because of a "headache."

Whether children are in grade school, junior or senior high school, or college, we need to remember that there are people at their schools who become part of their health care and support system. These people hold many positions within the schools:

  • teachers,

  • school nurses,

  • school counselors,

  • school administrators,

  • college professors,

  • dormitory resident assistants, and

  • more.

When we stop and think about it, we can see that there's something major that they have in common with the rest of the team They need information if they're to be of assistance to our children. They need to know:

  • that our child has migraines;

  • what symptoms our child may experience during a migraine;

  • what medications they take and when;

  • what to look for that may indicate that the child needs medical care; and

  • contact information for both parents and the child's doctor.

To make things easier, more efficient, and more effective for everyone involved, I've created a set of forms that can be completed to provide essential information to the vital school personnel who help us care for our children when they're at school. There are several forms, including forms for:

  • teachers,

  • school nurses,

  • college professors, and

  • college dormitory resident assistants.

The form for college professors can also be helpful for adult college students. These forms are for your use, free of charge. You can download all of them in this Migraine School Forms Workbook .

As parents and students prepare for the start of school, preparation and planning are crucial. This is an area where the "P theory" comes into play "Prior preparation prevents poor performance." In this case, we're not only concerned about performance. We're also concerned about the health, happiness, and safety of our children.

As we consider these issues, it's also helpful to remember the stigma that's so often associated with migraine. For younger students, who spend all or most of the day in one classroom, consider talking with the teacher about a possible health lesson about migraines. This can be conducted by the teacher or by a guest speaker, perhaps a doctor or nurse who understands migraine and can explain it on a level children can understand. Helping other children in the class understand migraines can go a long way toward helping the children understand children with migraines, reducing the stigma and possibility of teasing and bullying. We also have a piece on our site that can be helpful, How to Explain Migraine to Children .

More Back-to-School Information:

Live well,

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Teri Robert
Meet Our Writer
Teri Robert

Teri Robert is a leading patient educator and advocate and the author of Living Well with Migraine Disease and Headaches. A co-founder of the Alliance for Headache Disorders Advocacy and the American Headache and Migraine Association, she received the National Headache Foundation's Patient Partners Award and a Distinguished Service Award from the American Headache Society.