While I was a good student, I found school to be a painful experience. Going to school can be hard for kids with juvenile arthritis, whether they struggle to walk to their next class or take notes. For me, the worst part was carrying books; my overloaded backpack caused a lot of pain and issues with my posture. There were definitely times I felt like my backpack was heavier than me! The American Academy of Pediatrics warns that heavy backpacks can cause injuries to children. Thankfully, kids with JA have more options than ever before to avoid strain from heavy backpacks.
Technology can be a ‘pain saver’
Nowadays, some schools provide students with tablets or online textbooks. Tablets are the perfect solution for kids with JA since they are lighter and easier to carry. They are also perfect for college students! I bought or rented online versions of my textbooks, and it helped a lot. If the school does not provide tablets, ask your child’s teacher about obtaining online textbooks. While it might not be an option, it’s worth a try.
Unfortunately, online texts and tablets are not always possible. In that case, having a set of books at home and in the classroom can be a lifesaver. If this is not possible, work with your child’s teacher to find another option. One of my teachers didn’t have a spare book to loan me, so she gave me photocopies of the text to take home. Another teacher projected the day’s readings on the board.
Choose a good backpack
Some kids might find their backpack is still uncomfortable even when they don’t need to carry around heavy books. I’ve found that the weight of binders, notebooks, and folders can be intense. Even though they look cool, don’t use messenger bags because they put too much pressure on one shoulder. Backpacks with wide shoulder pads, padded backs, and waist straps can also help. While the American Chiropractor Association doesn’t recommend rolling backpacks for all children, they may be a good option for kids who have issues carrying a backpack. Though, teens will probably be happier with arranging for more time between periods to use their locker than using a bulky bag.
Kids cannot focus, participate, or enjoy their classes if they are struggling with pain. Carrying books is only one of many issues kids with arthritis face in school. Working with your child’s school to find ways to make your child more comfortable during the day can make the difference between getting by and thriving. Teachers only want the best for their students! Likely, they’ll be more than happy to find a solution for your child.
Note: Juvenile Arthritis News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Juvenile Arthritis News, or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to juvenile arthritis.