Handbook of Crisis Counseling, Intervention, and Prevention in the Schools

By Jonathan Sandoval | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 9
Illness: A Crisis for Children
Margaret S. Steward
University of California, Davis

A second-grade teacher called to ask me about the wisdom of putting Billy into a small reading group. I started to inquire about his reading skills, but the teacher interrupted me saying, “No, you don't understand, Dr. Steward, Billy has diabetes, and I don't want the rest of the children to catch it!” That phone call was an indirect result of three factors. First, changes in public law including the enactment of Public Law 94142 and the 1997 reauthorization of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act that guarantees children a place in the public classroom. Second, there have been important advances in modern medical practice so that when Billy adheres to his treatment regimen he will have sufficient health and energy to cope with school. Third, there was inadequate communication between home, school, and health care. The clue to this was the fear in the teacher's voice. There had not been adequate lines of communication set up among the adults in Billy's life—his parents, his pediatrician, and his teacher. In these changing times school personnel need to make a concerted effort to understand the physical capacities and limitations, and medical needs of each of the children in their midst who must deal everyday with chronic illness, injury, or physical disabilities. At the same time medical personnel need to know more about the educational demands and opportunities of the specific classroom into which their young patients are going. We all need to be brought up to running speed with respect to what it means for a child to cope with illness

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