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Teaching Children With Cystic Fibrosis

written by: Rose Kivi • edited by: Elizabeth Wistrom • updated: 9/11/2012

Cystic fibrosis is a chronic disorder that causes breathing and digestion problems. Information on cystic fibrosis for teachers should be provided during a child's school years. Cystic fibrosis in children can be managed quite well in school if certain recommendations and precautions are followed.

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    Overview of Cystic Fibrosis: What Teachers Should Know

    Cystic fibrosis in children and adults is a chronic condition that can severely affect both lung and pancreatic function. The main characteristic of the disorder is the overproduction of thick mucous in the body, which results in lung blockages, infections, and digestive obstructions. Cystic fibrosis is most often diagnosed during the early childhood years, and symptoms of the disease can include regular bouts of phlegm-based coughing, wheezing, breathing difficulties, bowel movement problems, and slow weight gain.

    Treatment for cystic fibrosis commonly involves therapeutic techniques for loosening mucous in the lungs, medications, and proper diet. While cystic fibrosis in children may require some adjustments in classroom routine, students with the disorder are both able and encouraged to participate in a traditional school environment. Teachers who are unfamiliar with the effects of cystic fibrosis can receive advice from parents and medical professionals in regard to accommodating a student with the disease. Several tips on cystic fibrosis for teachers should be followed in order to ensure a positive classroom experience for the child and the group as a whole.

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    School Accommodations for Children With Cystic Fibrosis

    In addition to setting IEP accommodations in place for a child with cystic fibrosis. school districts can help by providing teachers with general information about the disorder and the ways in which a student may require assistance in the classroom. Teachers can also benefit from learning a few guidelines about cystic fibrosis in children:

    --Students with cystic fibrosis will often need to cough and expel mucous from their lungs. Teachers can either give a student permission to leave the classroom when heavy coughing occurs, or provide the student with tissues at his or her desk. Other children in the classroom should be informed that the cough is not contagious.

    --One treatment for cystic fibrosis is enzyme medication, which children must take prior to eating lunch in order to aid in nutrient absorption. Teachers should ensure that the student is taking the medication as scheduled.

    --Cystic fibrosis can cause severe gas pains and diarrhea in children. Teachers can help to minimize a student's embarrassment by allowing liberal access to restroom facilities.

    --Teachers should always encourage both children with cystic fibrosis and their classmates to wash their hands often in order to reduce the spread of infectious germs.

    When it comes to education, managing cystic fibrosis in children requires the help of compassionate, understanding, and informed teachers. In this setting, children with cystic fibrosis can thrive both socially and academically.

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