Migraine at School: Children’s Migraines Should Not be Igonored
I’m excited to introduce you to a new initiative, Migraine at school. Migraine at School is an initiative run by CHAMP and Danielle Byron Henry Migraine Foundation. They have worked diligently to provide resources that create a migraine action plan for schools, parents, students, educators, and more. So far, the Utah PTA passed a historic Migraine at School resolution. Utah will bring migraine and headache disease education into Utah schools reaching over 600,000 students statewide. In my opinion, this resolution should be implemented in every state but will take a lot of work! And I’m ready to help these schools…are you? Children’s migraine should not be ignored!
Are you wondering how to get rid of migraine at school? Well, the answer is that we won’t eradicate the neurological disease, but we can alter the environment around that person in ways that may help. These resources won’t cure migraine, but they can teach you how to deal with migraine at school. It can answer what to do if you have a migraine attack at school or if you should go to school with a migraine atack.
How to Deal with Migraine at School: For Students
Have you ever wondered, “Why do I always get migraine attacks at school?” I did! I experienced my first migraine attack at the age of 5 prior to my kindergarten year. Throughout school, I grew and learned as my migraine disease grew and I learned more. Throughout elementary school, I was episodic, having less than 15 attacks a month and turned chronic, greater than 15 migraine days a month by the time I was a teacher. High school brought particularly difficult times for me during my menstrual cycle, classes and athletics. I would get head pain every day at school along with nausea, sensitivity to light and sound, mental fog, and uneasiness.
I was confused about how I could be so “healthy” while struggling in silence with migraine attacks. At that time, I didn’t know who to talk to, what to talk about or how to help. My migraine disease affected my life in every way as I grew and continued throughout my life. I wish the people around me and I had a better understanding. Migraine at School is here to help take the questions, guesswork, and stigma away from these feelings. It’s about time migraine in school is better understood, accepted, and adapted to.
Information for students includes:
- Learning about Stigma
- Educational Resources
- Support Groups
- Lifestyle Tips
- Tools to Help
- Headache Disease Information
What Parents Should Know About Migraine at School
Parents may be thinking, “should I send my child to school with a migraine attack?” These resources can help create a migraine action plan for the school. I wish this information had been around when I was in school. As a parent, being an advocate for your child is crucial and an overwhelming task. This information can help guide parents to get their children the best care and services while in school. Migraine at School can help give you ideas for the best migraine care plan. As a parent, your voice needs to be heard but it’s hard to know where to begin. Start here and find resources to help advocate for your child and know your rights.
- Pediatric migraine screener
- Sample physician letter
- Sample IEP form
Educators and Children’s Migraine
After starting my school journey with migraine, I continued my education and became an intervention specialist. I taught children ranging from mild to severe disabilities ages 5-12. My students had a variety of needs as my own migraine needs increasing. During this time, my migraine disease became chronic and I found I was giving more care to my students than I was to myself. Something I also learned, was that I was not the only teacher doing the same.
Over my time as a teacher, I worked at 4 schools, and in ALL of them, I had a coworker who also lived with migraine. It was also during this time that I faced a tremendous amount of stigma and shame for my disease. While I was working with students with Autism, behavioral issues, cognitive issues, hearing impairments, visual and verbal impairments, physical impairments, and more, my own disease was referred to as “a headache” and my absences due to attacks were met with judgments and shame. I worked at a school for children with special needs and being a teacher with the need for accommodations was scrutinized. THIS IS UNACCEPTABLE!
It was also during this time that I noticed my whole class was benefiting from accommodations I was making around my room. I got rid of my fluorescent lights and used lamps or light covers. I talked quietly and slowly demanding more attention with a whisper. My use of music and soothing sounds relaxed us. By making changes, each student and teacher in the room noticed a change when sensory input was altered.
Migraine Action Plan
After speaking with my teacher friends, I asked if any of them had had a student with an IEP for migraine. Everyone’s faces went blank. Then, I had a friend refer to a student who began her IEP for a nonmigraine diagnosis but turned into mostly a migraine accommodation form. Her migraine disability outweighed her initial diagnosis while migraine was not listed as a primary concern. I have since wondered why I have not seen children with more accommodations for migraine or headache disorders…STIGMA!
It is my hope that Migraine at School teaches educators to recognize their students’ migraine and see it as serious as any other condition the school accommodates. I hope that teachers can now discuss what they are living with and how accommodations may help them. Children’s migraine needs a migraine action plan. Teachers are the bloodlines of schools and if they are not healthy, they can’t do their best. If they are uninformed about migraine and headache disorders then they can not advocate for their student or themselves. Educating educators will change schools!
Migraine Action Plan
Educator Resources for Migraine
“Your child may have migraine” form
Pediatric migraine screener
Lesson Plan and Resources
Lifestyle tips and Tools
Migraine in school has been around since the beginning of time! My grandmothers went to school with migraine attacks, my mom has memories of life at school with migraine, my life was forever altered in schools with migraine and generations will continue to flow through schools. There need to be changed! I’ve seen what accommodations can do for a child and teacher and I know so much more can be done. Education, lowered stigma, louder advocates, and people who are listening all need to work together.
The fact remains, there is a teacher in your school that lives with migraine. There are students (actually many) that are going to school with migraine. If you are a parent, your child will know, be taught by, or become a child with migraine. It’s something that needs to be talked about, recognized, and respected for the wide range of spectrum-disease that it is.
If you are interested in helping bring this initiative to your school, please reach out to Migraine at School or comment below and I’ll get you in touch with a person who is ready to make changes at your school and across the U.S.
Check out some other migraine teacher moments…