Information for School Personnel
Eosinophilic gastrointestinal disorder (EGID) is a difficult word to pronounce with a multitude of complex symptoms. Children with e EGIDs may appear to be perfectly healthy, but internally they are struggling with a chronic battle as their bodies attack the very nutrient sources intended to help them grow.
Below are a few important points to consider when working with children who have EGIDs.
- Vomiting and diarrhea is common for kids with EGIDs. These are not signs of a contagious illness. Many children are able to manage these unpleasant symptoms independently. If you are concerned or uncomfortable with making the judgment call about if/when a child with EGID should be sent home, contact the parents and a thorough discussion should be held with the family and administrators.
- Children with EGIDs often battle fatigue. Try to maintain an objective eye when looking at “effort” of children with EGIDs. If a child does not feel well or is tired from a difficult physical condition, he or she may not be able to give the appearance of 100% effort all the time. Children with chronic illnesses often cycle with compensatory energy. One day the child may appear to be over stimulated and the next she may be unable to keep her head off of the desk. If you have questions about the vitality of a child with EGID, don’t hesitate to ask the parents or guardians for specific information about the child’s history of fatigue.
- Daily logs are critical for medical monitoring. It may often seem tedious, but maintaining daily communication logs with the parents are a necessary component to supporting a child with EGID. Not only does it afford you to communicate concerns back to the home, but you can also receive valuable information from the parents which may directly impact the child’s performance at school. Food trials, medical tests, and medications are all a regular part of life for the child with EGID. Knowing how a child is experiencing his or her symptoms at home will also give you valuable insight for daily classroom management.
- Children who are battling EGID’s often struggle with self-advocacy skills. As school professionals, it is a difficult but important responsibility to help them hone in on what may be a symptom and what steps are needed to relieve some discomfort. Some of the side effects are inherently embarrassing and it is helpful for children battling this disorder to feel positive reinforcement and encouragement at every opportunity. One of the most difficult tasks for school professionals is to decipher when a child does need a “break” and when he or she needs to push through the struggle. Working closely with the parents can help teachers, nurses, and administrators know what symptoms are rest-worthy and when a call home is needed. In either situation, the child should be encouraged to communicate what he or she is feeling and that symptom should be acknowledged and validated.
- Absences happen: plan proactively. Children with EGIDs tend to miss an above average amount of school due to symptomatic flare ups, medical visits, negative reactions to food and medications, etc. It is in both the child’s and the school’s best interest to proactively develop a plan for managing absences both from an administrative and educational perspective. An accountability system for reporting EGID related absences needs to be established. Medical professionals can provide documentation stating that frequent absences are likely. It is a good idea to work closely with the parents to establish a way of communicating absences or tardies that are related to EGID flare ups. Additionally, since excessive absences can have a negative educational impact, it is critical that a proactive plan be developed to determine what work will be required of the child, how the instruction will be delivered, and what the timelines are for completion. The focus of make-up work should be on content, not quantity. Plan for a work load that is necessary to provide the child with a sound base of concept knowledge but that does not include “busy work” to avoid fatigue and frustration.
For more information about EGIDs, see this brochure.
For more information about eosinophilic esophagitis, one of the more common forms of EGID, see this brochure
To help with development of a 504 plan for a child with an EGID, download the 504 Sample Planning document.
Other Resources: Templates and Forms
Authored by Jennifer Cardenas, The Right to Learn, http://therighttolearn.net/. ©2012, The American Partnership for Eosinophilic Disorders.