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It is normal for students to miss school because of illness. When an illness causes a child to miss more than a few days, it is difficult for him to get caught up when he returns. One of the hardest absences to handle is when a child misses school because of a concussion.
A concussion is caused by a hard hit to the head. I have seen kids get concussions when playing sports, just goofing off with one another, bumping their head on a cabinet, or from falling down. The symptoms vary depending on how hard and where they hit their head. Some kids are fine within a day, and others take several months before they are completely well. It is important to have a complete examination by a doctor after a blow to the head. It is also important to follow the doctor’s orders after the injury. How well a child follows the doctor’s orders determines how quickly they recover.
The students I have helped after a concussion were out of school for several weeks. Once they returned, they were required to receive considerable accommodations to prevent a return of symptoms. Their doctor typically asks that they be allowed to attend shortened days for a while to make sure they are not too stressed out. This is difficult for students, because they want to get their work caught up as quickly as possible and the restrictions placed on them prevent them from working too hard. This makes them more stressed and emotional, which makes their symptoms worse. The number one thing to do to help them is to assure them that you (and their other teachers) will help them and will not let them fail because they have had to miss so much school.
If your child is recovering from a concussion, ask for a meeting with his teachers before he returns to school. Share the doctor’s orders with all his teachers so they can help figure out a way to gradually acclimate him back to normal classroom activities.
Common accommodations typically include limited screen time (such as computer, smartphone, projectors, videos, etc.), no exposure to loud sounds, and no physical activity. He needs to have permission to leave the classroom when his head starts hurting or he feels dizzy. He should only work for short periods of time before resting his brain.
Today’s classrooms typically rely heavily on screen time of one sort or another, so making these accommodations is difficult. I will write again next week on this topic and talk in more detail about how a teacher can modify a child’s work to make it possible to get caught up when under these restrictions.
To learn more about concussions and how they affect a child in school, read An Educator’s Guide to Concussions in the Classroom.