·Lyme Disease can cause a range of symptoms in children that directly impacts their education. Difficulty processing information, sleep disturbances (insomnia), short term memory problems, chronic pain, anxiety just name a few can make participating in class extremely difficult.
·Symptoms can be subtle and change day to day making it hard for teachers to recognize that the child is truly sick and not being disobedient. Children can be mistaken for being labeled as having Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD). Fatigue or not feeling well can be misinterpreted as being lazy or not wanting to do their work.
·Physical symptoms (fatigue, muscle/ joint pain, and headaches to name a few) can be so extreme that participating in school activities such as recess to sports activities is almost impossible.
·Sensory symptoms can be a struggle for children as well. They become sensitive to light and sound making it difficult to participate in regular school activities such as eating in the cafeteria, attending field trips, or attending music class.
·Children may have to become home-schooled or enrolled part-time, depending on the type of school the child attends.
·Children’s social interactions and activities may be limited do to symptoms of chronic Lyme Disease.
·In younger children they are beginning to develop social skills but can be impaired by the symptoms. Unable to participate in school activities such as recess or sports affects the bonding and building of friendships with their peers.
·Older children struggle maintaining their relationships because they are either too sick to join in activities or unable to plan social activities with their friends do to symptoms varying on a day-to-day basis. Unfortunately they lose friends because their friends don’t understand and/or don’t know how to deal with someone who has a chronic illness.
·Lyme Disease can cause emotional challenges in all ages of children that can be debilitating. Emotionally it can cause depression, anxiety, irritability, and loneliness.
·Younger children are unable to explain their feelings or what’s wrong, so they will come across as cranky or irritable. Anxiety can take over emotionally to where the child is unable to be in a classroom setting or be in an environment where there’s a lot of people.
·In older children who are chronic, loneliness and depression can set in from being too sick to participate in activities day in and day out. Losing friends and not having peers to talk to about what is going on because they don’t understand can lead to depression and loneliness.
·There are ways to help children with Lyme/Co-infections deal socially and emotionally.
·If your child continues to stay in a school setting and the school is unable to accommodate to your child’s needs, then setting up a 504 Plan will help make adjustments to modify workload accordingly. A Section 504 Plan is Federal civil rights legislation. Under it, a child with a disability has a right to accommodation to compensate for the disability. And, it is an entitlement. Having these accommodations met will help take stress of your child emotionally.
·Therapy or an age appropriate support group are other ways to help your child receive the tools to help cope socially and emotionally. Dealing with “normal” childhood experiences is hard enough, so having the tools to work through both will help tremendously.
·As a parent you should educate yourself about Lyme Disease and Co-infections because it is crucial to know the signs, symptoms, and tools to help your child in the best way possible.