When you think about someone experiencing headache disorders, you probably think of an adult. But many kids complain of headaches, too, and for some of the very same reasons as adults. As children and teens prepare to return to school, it’s important to acknowledge the impact that chronic headache and migraine disease can have on their education and social lives.
Among school-age children ages 5 to 17 in the United States, 20 percent are prone to headache disorders. Success in managing the headache disorders depends not only on a correct diagnosis and effective treatment, but also on understanding responses from parents, educators, and school health care professionals.
The more that parents, school health care professionals, and teachers know about children and headache disorders, the easier it will be to identify them and help children manage them for a full and rewarding life.
When children experience chronic headache, it affects them at home and in school. Their success in life depends not only on a correct diagnosis and effective treatment but also on understanding responses from parents and educators. Here are some tips for helping young people with headache disorders.
Headache at home: Be responsive and sensitive without pampering. Treat this child the same as you treat your other children.
Communicate with educators: It is important for parents of younger children, and for adolescents themselves, to discuss headaches with educators. Your child’s doctor can write a letter explaining the importance of treatment. Give the medications and instructions for use to the school nurse.
Discuss immediate treatment: Explain to each teacher that the moment a child feels the warning signs of a headache, he or she should be allowed to leave class, go to the nurse for medication, and rest until symptoms have decreased.
Legitimate biological disease: A child or adolescent’s chronic headache or migraine disease are real responses and not excuses.
Missing school: When a child gets a headache during school, encourage him or her to lie down in the nurse’s office during a headache attack, or until symptoms diminish to a more manageable level.
Communicate with student: Offer a sensitive reaction that does not embarrass the child in front of his or her classmates. When a child knows the school environment is supportive then headache disorders should not be used as a reason for missing school, or for more than a minimal amount of time.
Allow immediate treatment: If, during a class, a child explains that he or she has to take medication, encourage the student to go to the nurse’s office. Taking medication as soon as the first signs of a headache appear is important.