Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) symptoms should never get in the way of your child’s success at school. There is a simple way to protect your child’s school experience by creating accommodations for their IBD symptoms and lifestyle.
A 504 plan is an agreement between the school and student that the school will provide accommodations related to the child’s IBD needs. Any school that receives federal funding, such as a public school, is required to create a 504 plan for students with medical needs, when requested.
Ask your child’s teacher or guidance counselor about starting the 504 plan process. The school may ask for a letter from your doctor. A meeting time and date should be set to set up the formal 504 plan.
Your medical team is here to help navigate this process. Your doctor can provide a letter explaining what IBD is and suggest accommodations for your child in the classroom.
Common accommodations for students with IBD may include:
Access to the bathroom without delay
Access to the nurse’s office
Drinks and snacks in the classroom
Excused absences for office visits, procedures and hospitalizations
Additional time to make up missed work
Students may require different accommodations based on their age and symptoms. Does your child need extra time to finish lunch? Ask about accommodations for extending the lunch period. Is your child taking timed tests? “Stop the clock” testing allows students to leave their test in the event of a bathroom emergency and not lose any of the allotted time when they return. Each student is unique and may have different needs in the classroom. Don’t hesitate to ask for what will make your child’s school experience best for them.
Public colleges and universities are also required to provide accommodations. Check your school’s Office of Disability Services for more information.
A student should never be penalized for having a chronic health condition. A 504 plan can play an essential role in allowing a child to have a normal school experience.
You are not alone in getting your children the help they need in school. An IBD social worker is available to assist you in this process and can advocate for your child, when necessary.
Contact the Center for Pediatric Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) for any social work needs, including assistance with school accommodations. In addition to school resources, the center offers:
Devoted IBD pediatric gastroenterologists
Appointments with expert IBD dietitians
Appointments with behavioral health specialists
Monthly IBD classes for newly diagnosed children and their families
IBD support groups with our team of social workers and psychologists