bridging the gap between home and school

i set up this blog not only to document the progress of my daughter, who has been diagnosed with functional abdominal pain, but as a resource for others going through similar difficulties.

functional abdominal pain affects many children, whilst many children continue to function without much difficulty, some are completely disabled by pain. this affects schooling, friendships, clubs and activities – drawing a child’s world into the home, and perhaps further limiting it to one or two rooms as well, just at an age when these children want to be out, discovering the world on their own terms.

my daughter is in chronic pain and has been unable to attend school since January. we live in England. this means she is entitled to five hours of one-to-one home tuition weekly. the Citizens’ Advice Bureau has limited info on this: Children who are too ill to attend school. The Advisory Centre for Education (ACE) has a helpline (only operates Mon-Weds because of funding cuts) and can provide further advice too. There is brief guidance, Illness and your child, available from the UK Government.

five hours sounds like precious little in comparison to a full week of study, but is demanding of a child in pain. is she able to keep pace with the curriculum in school? no. but the focus is on keeping going, keeping engaged, and keeping learning as part of her life.

for me, the loss of a full and stimulating curriculum is bad enough, but there’s a bigger issue in all of this – the almost complete loss of social interaction. a child out of school loses more than learning, s/he loses all of the hubbub, the chatter, the fun, arguments and playtime that is such a big part of being in school. the gap between home and school cracks into a yawning chasm; friends and friendships move further from reach. the loss accelerates outwards.

we’re trying to bridge that gap. we’ve used facetime to connect home and school so that my daughter can take part in a weekly form quiz. skype could work just as well. next week, we’re hoping to get her into school for an hour or so – to meet a few of her friends for lunch in her form room, followed by a short one-to-one session with her home tutor. if this goes well and she is able to cope, we’ll make it weekly and build on from there.

as i write this, my daughter is crying out in pain. it is extraordinarily difficult. we’ve just got to keep on as best we can.


4 Comments on “bridging the gap between home and school”

  1. debcoats says:

    hang in there, been there, lived that, and work in a high school and deal with others that have that daily…. each day is a new day and for what ever reason, you need to live what you are living to prepare you for what is to come. For my family, it made us more understanding and compassionate to others, which then, helps me in my day job. Anxiety, Stress, it goes right to the tummy…. and it’s real pain. JOY, LOVE, HAPPINESS…. this is what is most important to learn and how to live life. It will get better, you will wake up one day and you will be able to leave the home, and go shopping, and have a life outside of your safe walls. It will get better. baby steps. There is plenty of time for learning, the books will still be there….. Love of self comes first, then love of others will follow… hang in there, it will get better.

    • thank you for your comment. it’s important to know that children come through this. i had no idea before my daughter was affected by this that it was quite so common. yes, stress does not help. the pain can be triggered by many things, including something as seemingly trivial as a virus. my daughter has hypermobility and that is linked with increased sensitivity to pain. i’m not sure we’ll ever know what triggered it, we’re focused on coping now. i do hope we get her back to where we were before all of this began. i wonder though if this is the new normal. i hope i can look back, three months from now, and say, no, it is not.

      • debcoats says:

        I am seeing more and more of this at my work ( high school)… I do think a lot is stress and anxiety, real symptoms that live in the tummy :(, I am wishing your daughter much health. Please try meditation and yoga. Yoga with twists will help the belly and massage the tummy and calm the nerves. give it a try ­čÖé

  2. many thanks for this. yes, i must write a post about yoga – a friend has sent me a link to some very gentle yoga exercises. it’s difficult. i feel as if we are in a Catch22 with this. we are told yoga, pilates, hypnotherapy are all good, but my daughter has pain that is worsened by movement. she cannot bend down. she cannot stand up unaided. she cannot get out of bed without help – so yoga, although beneficial, needs to be approached carefully. in addition, she gets spasms of pain that have made attempts to relax almost impossible – the pain jolts her – it makes hypnotherapy difficult to implement successfully at the moment. we are setting very small goals for her, and that helps a little.

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