No matter what the circumstance is, when your child returns to school it can be stressful. Whether your child is returning to school for the first time since their amputation or it is the beginning of the school year in a new school or grade your child will have a mix of emotions. It is important to take steps to help your child and the school prepare to help achieve a smooth transition.
Talk to Your Child
This may seem like an obvious step but take some quiet time and find out what emotions they are feeling and how you can help them work through them. They will likely be excited to see/meet new friends. They may feel unsure, especially if this is their first time returning to school with a limb loss. Make sure they are feeling confident with their prosthetic or if there is anything that needs to be adjusted or discussed with their Prosthetist before they return to school. Early summer is a good time to look into this, as to allow time for any adjustments to be made, or components/supplies to be ordered.
Inform the School
Speak to the school staff about your child’s amputation. Give them information such as, how the amputation happened, if there are any special requirements for your child and how your child is feeling. If possible, especially in younger grades, talk to the classroom teacher. Find out how they will handle any questions that might come up from other students in the classroom. Talking to the teacher is important as it will help to make sure any limb differences conversation is handled in an appropriate manner.
If your child is going to require an aide, find out if your school will have one readily available for your child. An aide can help to carry books, get on/off the bus and help your child if they are in pain and not sure what to do. During the school year, continue to check in with the school to make sure everything is still going well and that your child is getting the best education and care while at school.
Ask for Professional Help
While you prepare your child to go back to school, consult with their healthcare team. Their Prosthetist can discuss ideas on how to make the transition to school an easier one. They can also make sure your child is properly equipped with everything they will need and are happy and relaxed with their prosthesis.
Your child is likely working with an Occupational Therapist (OT) or Physical Therapist (PT) already. Talk to them about your child returning to school. Their OT or PT could communicate with school staff about ways to help your child or practice certain tasks with your children to make sure they are comfortable and confident before heading back to school.
Continue to check in with your child and throughout the school year to make sure nothing has changed. Communicating with the school and support staff regularly can help to ease your own mind as well. Hopefully if you take these steps your child will feel supported and have a wonderful school year!