5 Tips for Going to School When You Have SMA

Living with SMA no doubt presents numerous challenges, but as they say, “where there’s a will, there’s a way.” A good education is just as important for SMA patients as it is for able-bodied students. Many go to public school from Kindergarten to high school, and go on to graduate from university or college.

If you or your SMA child is looking to attend either public or private school, here are five tips that should help you along the way:

Acquire an aid. 
From elementary school up, it’s beneficial to have someone assist with any physical needs the SMA child has while at school. It’s helpful to have an adult around who works with the student full-time and attends all of their classes; in college, ask about student note-takers who may be willing to accompany you to class as a part-time job. Some students may prefer to just have close friends help them in class, which works just as well. Just do what you need to ensure that your physical needs are taken care of while you’re at school.

Meet with your teachers to discuss accommodations. 
Before starting each school year or semester, meet with the teachers in advance to discuss any accommodations. These can range from extended time on tests to seating arrangements to making sure that the student is physically capable of completing the assigned work. If there’s a project that just isn’t feasible, work with the teachers to develop an alternative assignment. This skill will be incredibly helpful in college, where students often form great relationships with professors. Communication is key.

MORE: ‘Dare to be Remarkable’: A documentary about life with SMA

Make your peers aware of your needs.
Friends and peers are often more than willing to help out at school, during lunch and after school. All you have to do is explain what you need help with, be it with food or picking up something that’s out of reach. As long as you’re willing to speak up for yourself, people will be more than happy to help you.

Pace yourself. 
SMA can definitely take a toll on a person, and it’s especially important to keep this in mind when going to school or college. Make your health your top priority, and if you feel overwhelmed or fatigued, don’t be afraid to take breaks when needed. This also goes back to communicating with your teachers. The more they know about your physical needs, the more understanding they will be when you need an extension on an assignment or just need to leave school early some days. Your health and well-being are always more important than your GPA.

Get involved in extracurriculars. 
No student should just go to school and go home every day. Getting involved in student organizations, clubs and sports is a great way to both meet people and explore your interests. You can be just as active in drama or math club as all of your able-bodied friends. It’s an outlet that will allow you to be a part of a community. Don’t ever let your disability prevent you from doing something you love.

These are just a few tips to help you or your child have a great school experience, and there are many more stories out there from various SMA writers.

MORE: This robot helps children with disabilities get more out of school

SMA News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website.

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