Talking to your teacher

Your teachers need to know about JIA for many reasons:

• You might find that your joints become stiff or hurt if you are sitting for a long time. If you need to get up to move around, it would be good if your teacher understood why that is important.

• If you miss class due to flares, doctor’s appointments, or because you’re just not feeling well, you will still need a way to get your homework. Also, your teachers will need to know why you are missing class.

• If you find that gym is causing pain in your joints, your gym teacher must know. You can probably do some lower-impact exercises.

• You might not be well enough to do all of your homework, and your teacher can help you prioritise the work and might even assign less written work.

• If your fingers or wrists are sore and it is difficult for you to write, you might need extra time for written tests and exams. Using a laptop for taking notes or typing homework may be important for you.

Besides talking to your teacher about JIA, there are other resources to help you in school. Depending on how much JIA affects you, you might need to have an Individual Education Plan (IEP) in place. An IEP is a written plan describing the special education program and/or services that you might need at school. Many young people with JIA have an IEP in place, even if their JIA is not very severe. An IEP is a good way of communicating your needs to the school.

Either your parents or your teacher can request that an IEP be written for you. The IEP is written with input from your teacher, your school’s principal and resource teacher, you, your parents and any other specialists who help with JIA treatment and management.

The IEP identifies what changes are needed for your grade level and subjects or courses (for example, gym class). It also will outline any accommodations and special education services needed to assist you in your learning. Here are some examples of accommodations that might make it easier for you at school:

• having extra time to complete classroom assignments

• being able to complete tasks or present information in other ways (e.g., through taped answers, demonstrations, dramatisations, role play, taking exams orally)

• being able to record lessons so you can review at a later time, having handouts of notes or getting photocopies of the teacher’s notes

• getting a variety of learning tools, such as special computers to make it easier for you to complete your assignments

• having an extra set of books so you don’t need to carry them to and from school

• being able to have a scribe, which is someone who writes for you when you can’t

• having a key for the elevator if your school has several floors.


Welcome to the Taking Charge: Managing JIA Online Program! In this section you will learn what to expect in the program, how to get started and how to set goals to better manage JIA.

JIA stands for juvenile idiopathic arthritis. Find out what causes JIA, the different types of JIA and how it will affect you now and in the future.

Diagnosing JIA may be difficult as joint pain and swelling may be a part of many different illnesses. Diagnosis of JIA typically includes a physical exam, blood tests and imaging studies.

Pain, stiffness, and tiredness or fatigue, are common symptoms of JIA. These symptoms can lead to difficulties with participating in school and sports activities, and enjoying time with your friends. Learn about pain, fatigue, and stiffness, how to manage symptoms and how these symptoms can cause stress.

There are several strategies you can use to help you cope with pain, stress, and sleep problems. These include relaxation, distraction, and managing your thoughts. In this section, learn more about how each of these strategies work.

When you know about your medications, you can talk to your doctor about them and make good choices for yourself. Find out about the different types of JIA medications, how they work, common side effects, and the importance of talking to your doctor about your medication plan.

Did you know that there are many other therapies that you can use to manage JIA symptoms? They can help to prevent complications so that you can do all the things you want to do. In this section, learn more about physical, occupational, and psychological therapies; maintaining healthy nutrition; surgical options for JIA, and more.

Your role in making decisions about your treatment plan is very important. Your health-care team and other members of your support system are available to help you make these decisions. In turn, they can help you to manage your JIA.

Whether you have JIA or not, you need to maintain a healthy lifestyle. Find out how to stay healthy and active, learn about puberty and relationships, healthy body image, and making healthy lifestyle choices.

Sometime between the ages of 18 to 22, you most likely will transition from your pediatric rheumatologist to the adult health care setting. At that time, there are a number of things you, your family, and your health-care team can do to help make this change go smoothly.