Coping at school How can I cope at school? Most children with a hypermobility syndrome go to school full time and manage just fine. School can help make you forget the pain and tiredness because you are with your friends and teachers. You also get to move around a lot, which is good for helping to manage the pain. If you need help at school because of your hypermobility syndrome your teacher will know. A special professional called an Occupational Therapist may come in to see you at school and have a look at whether you need special chairs, cushions, pens or splints to help you stay in school with less pain. The Occupational Therapist will tell your parents and teachers what you need. If you find things like sitting cross-legged in assembly difficult then tell your parents and teachers so they can get you a chair or let you sit on the end of the row with your legs stretched out. If writing is hard then the OT can help with this as well. It may mean that you shouldn’t do both joined up and printed writing. It may be too hard for the muscles in your hands, so you may have to choose to always do joined up or always do printed! If you get pain in your hands or wrists then you need to take breaks when writing or ask someone to write for you. Taking tests where you have to write fast may be hard and you may not have to do this if it’s causing you lots of pain. Some children move on to use laptops or notebooks as typing is easier for them then writing. Lots of hypermobile children need to fidget and it isn’t because you get bored but rather your body is telling you to move to prevent the area feeling stiff and hurting. If you get told off for fidgeting you need to explain to your teacher and your parent that this is something you need to do! Some hypermobility syndrome children have problems with speech. This can be due to the muscles in your mouth being too stretchy and getting tired when trying to work hard. A speech therapist can help with this and they will give you some exercises. If you have a problem speaking then don’t be shy make sure you practice speaking clearly and keep doing the exercises! Some children with hypermobility have problems with their bladder or bowel, so they may have accidents in school. Make sure that your parents and teachers talk about you needing to go to the toilet as soon as you know you need to. You can have a note to show your teacher if you are embarrassed or perhaps a special sign that only you and the teacher know. This should get better as you get older but there is a special nurse who can help with this as well. If you get pain or feel tired it can help to have a plan in place with the school, your parents and perhaps the school nurse. Sometimes managing the pain and tiredness in school is the best thing. You may need to take some medicine prescribed by your doctor. The school can give this to you when you need it. They may also give you somewhere in school where you can lay down for a while. The school may have a special room where you can even carry on doing your work in your own way…i.e. some children like to lay down on the floor to work when they are hurting. Your school may let you keep a wheat bag or a hot water bottle in school that you can use to put on the area that is hurting. If you are in some pain and feel completely exhausted you may need to be off school for a while. But it is important to get back to school as soon as possible. You can arrange with the school to give you your work to do at home so you don’t get behind and also call your friends or invite them for tea so you get a chance to see them. Some children are home schooled, but an Occupational Therapist can still help by showing your parents what you need, and the advice above can be used to help you if you learn at home too!