A new school year presents a lot of new opportunities like new teachers, new subjects and the possibility of new friends. But that newness also comes with a good degree of uncertainty, which can be frightening for a student with a chronic illness, such as Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis, collectively known as inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). That anxiety can be especially strong if the diagnosis is new, and the upcoming school year will be your child’s first with IBD. …
Mark Donohue craves outdoor activity. While most were braving Old Man Winter’s 2015 wrath, this 19-year-old Ticonderoga, New York native embraced Mother Nature and hiked to the summit of his home state’s Black Mountain, tackled the slopes in Colorado and pond-skated locally with friends.
Mark says his love of the great outdoors and his quest to climb new personal heights has never been overshadowed by ulcerative colitis.
“I won’t let the disease define me,” says Donohue, a college freshman at Binghamton University in New York. “I take it in stride, stay positive and don’t let ulcerative colitis dictate the kind of person I want to be.”
For teenagers and young adults with IBD who recently went to college for the first time, the prospect of managing their health without help from their parents or caregivers can be intimidating. To feel more in control of the situation, it may help to make a list of potential concerns your soon-to-be freshman may have about living at school, and then work with him or her to find ways to solve them. This way, if IBD issues do arise, there will be an established action plan to handle them. Some things to consider:
- Will being at college affect his or her health insurance plan? If so, how?
- Who will the child call in a medical emergency?
- Can he or she eat the food in the cafeteria? If not where can safe foods be found?
- Is there a gastroenterologist near the college?
- Does the school have Disability Services department or an office of Student Affairs? You may wish to contact them to determine the school’s medical leave of absence policy in case the situation arises.
Young adults who will be traveling or living away from home for the first time with IBD may want to consult this eBook, with more information on the subject.
“Planning ahead for college when you have IBD is helpful, but there’s far more to managing the condition at college than getting to know a new doctor or knowing what foods to avoid in the dining halls,” Docktor says. “It means taking the responsibility of staying on top of one’s medication, exercise and normal sleep routines, all of which can be tough when you are first experiencing campus life and a shift in routine with less structure. But college students living with IBD need to go the extra mile to maintain these routines and always try to put their health first to avoid flare-ups or complications. With education, communication and anticipation, potential roadblocks can be avoided, making sure your college experience is about more than attending school with IBD.”
For more information on how Boston Children’s treats children with IBD, or to make an appointment with one of our IBD specialists, please call us 617-355-6058 or visit the Inflammatory Bowel Disease Center website.
A new school year presents a lot of new opportunities like new teachers, subjects and the possibility of new friends. But that newness also comes with a good degree of uncertainty, which can be frightening for a student with a chronic illness, such as Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis, collectively known as inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). That anxiety can be especially strong if the diagnosis is new, and the upcoming school year will be the child’s first with IBD.
“The first day of school after an IBD diagnosis can be hard, but with some planning it’s quite manageable,” says Michael Docktor, MD, of Boston Children’s Inflammatory Bowel Disease Center. “Most children with the condition are able to quickly return to their normal school routines, all it takes is a few extra steps to make the return as seamless as possible.”
To ensure school is a positive experience for your child with newly diagnosed IBD, Docktor suggests speaking with your child’s teachers, school administrator and nurse as soon as possible to discuss any concerns or questions you may have. Topics may include:
- Inform. The teaching staff should know that IBD is episodic in nature and the child may need to make frequent or urgent trips to the restroom. Depending on classroom rules, he or she may need special permission to do so. …