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How to Teach Students Suffering from Chronic Renal Failure

written by: Sharon Dominica • edited by: Elizabeth Wistrom • updated: 9/11/2012

Looking for some teaching strategies for student with chronic renal failure? Here are some ideas, tips and strategies to help you support the child in the classroom.

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    Chronic renal failure in children can be due to genetic defects, or other diseases of the kidney. The symptoms of renal failure are usually not seen until the kidneys are damaged about 80%. Since the kidneys do not function sufficiently, children with chronic renal failure may need to undergo regular treatments and be under a lot of medication. This article on teaching strategies for a student with chronic renal failure outlines the struggles faced by children with chronic renal failure and suggests ideas for teachers to help accommodate them, support them and teach them in the classroom.

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    Dealing with Fatigue:

    Children with chronic renal failure get tired easily. They may not be able to cope with a whole day of school. Look at the possibility of them taking a short nap during the day, or even going home a little early. See if it is possible for them to take up less tiring sports, like swimming, where they will have the option of just relaxing in the pool. Space outdoor and active activities over the week and the day so that too many tiring activities are not together.

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    Dealing with Medication Schedules:

    Children with chronic renal failure are often on medication which may need to be taken during school hours. Discuss this with the parents. You could arrange for the child to go to the school nurse at a specific time to get his/her medication. Mark the timings for the medication with an small illustration on your classroom schedule so that you don’t forget.

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    Dealing with Hospitalizations and Absenteeism:

    Chronic renal failure usually requires regular dialysis which may need to be done in a hospital. The child may need to go to the hospital once or twice a week for the procedure. As much as possible, talk to the parents and see if these procedures can be scheduled after school hours. If not, plan an activity, like a book, that the child can read while he is at the hospital. You may also need to decrease the amount of homework given to the child depending on how he usually feels after the procedure. The child may also need longer hospitalizations. In that case, see if you can send cards made by the other children in the class, or even organize visits to help the child cheer up.

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    Dealing with Side Effects of Medication:

    Medicines often have many side effects including lethargy, drowsiness, nausea and tiredness. Be prepared for these side effects. Try to motivate the child with interesting activities, but also be understanding when he or she is not able to do things. Allow the child to rest, take a short nap or do an activity of his choice, instead. Talk to the parents and find out if they follow any specific strategies at home to deal with the side effects.

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    Dealing with Nutrition Related Issues:

    Children with chronic renal disease may have a specific diet, and controlled fluid intake schedule that they need to follow. Discuss this too, with the child’s parents so that you are aware of the child’s needs, and can support him.

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    Dealing with Psychological Issues:

    Having a chronic disease can be a very frightening experience for a little child. The child may have fear, anxiety, or low self esteem. A teacher can play an important role in encouraging the child, motivating him and helping him express his feelings. Help the child feel special and important and a part of the classroom community. All this will help a child cope better with the illness.

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    Chronic renal failure is a life threatening condition, and usually cannot be reversed except with transplantation. The child and the family go through a difficult time coping with the demands of the disease. With these few ideas, you as a teacher can make a big difference in the life of the child and the family.

    If you have other suggestions for teaching strategies for a student with chronic renal failure, feel free to leave them in the comments section below.. For more resources on supporting children with special needs and other chronic conditions in the classroom, continue to browse through

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