Missed school days and late effects from treatment can make returning to school a challenge for children with cancer. That’s why ASK is rolling out a new resource to make sure that every child with cancer in Virginia has the support that they need in the classroom. Our new educational toolkit will help guide parents, teachers and doctors in creating a plan to support a child when they return to school.
Cancer treatment can create many late effects that will affect a child’s ability to learn, grow and thrive after treatment. Common late effects include cognitive such as slower processing speeds, short term memory loss, and difficulty multi-tasking. Some cognitive late effects may not show up until years after treatment.
As a student’s course load becomes more challenging, impaired executive functioning skills (ability to juggle multiple projects successfully) can become apparent. Physical late effects that impact a student in the classroom include fatigue, hearing and vision loss, nausea and pain. And then, there are many emotional challenges for young patients. The loss of contact with friends and peers and the quest for normalcy all make returning to school a challenge.
"While not every community has an education coordinator to assist with transition back-to-school, this toolkit gives the medical team, school, parent and child with the support needed to identify accommodations and awareness to ensure academic success," shares Alma Morgan, ASK's Education Coordinator. With over thirty years of experience in helping young cancer patients and survivors transition back to school, Alma has a wealth of knowledge and tips in ensuring an easier return to school.
This toolkit was made possible with a grant from the Virginia Department of Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It will be distributed through all five pediatric cancer treatment centers in Virginia as patients and survivors return to school.