All across the United States, kids and families are gearing up for the new school year. If you don’t believe me, check your FB feed! Kiddos are excited to see old and new friends, meet their new teachers, and of course enter the new grade – well, for the most part.
However, when it comes to child amputees, this time of the year can be a little stressful and it may require a unique set of preparations. So here are some basic reminders for parents to ensure that your amputee kiddos have a smooth Back to School, too!
Visit your child’s prosthetist!
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As we always say, kids grow up so fast! That is why it is important that you make an appointment with your child’s prosthetist a few weeks before school starts. This appointment is to verify that child’s prosthesis fits well and is comfortable before the school year starts. During this time, your prosthetist can go over helpful tips with you and your child for back to school preparation. Remember to be open and ask questions of your prosthetist, especially if they have been with your child at every stage during their rehabilitation. Don’t forget to stock up on new prosthetic socks and pack an extra in your child’s backpack to ensure they are prepared for any shrinking of the limb.
Talk to your child!
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It is important that you sit down with your child and ask questions about their emotional and physical state. Are they physically ready to go back to school? Are they emotionally ready to see their classmates? Are they comfortable with their body image? Make sure you give your child talking points about their prosthesis, so they can feel confident, which will allow them to be social, comfortable, and able to educate their peers about their prosthesis.
Can your child stand out too much?
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But what if your child feels like they stand out and not in a good way? As a parent, you have to make sure your child understands that everyone is different—some people have glasses, some have freckles, and some have curly hair. It’s these differences that make people special. Even if your child performs daily tasks differently, make sure they understand that this does not make them less valuable.
Education is key!
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Usually, a new school year means your child will have a new teacher that might not understand ins and outs of amputation. Make sure you take the time to educate the teacher and staff on your child’s prosthesis, and that they are comfortable enough to answer questions other children may have. There’s nothing wrong with educating the teachers and kids about the prostheses. It will only help the amputee child with confidence in himself and understanding and acceptance from others.
Bullying and discrimination!
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Finally, the ugly topic of bullying. Let your child know that it is never okay if they are bullied or made fun of because of their disability. That leads me to mention another topic – be an advocate for your child. Speak up for them if you feel they are not receiving the care he or she needs. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is a civil rights law that prohibits discrimination against individuals with disabilities in all areas of public life, including work, schools, transportation, and all public and private places that are open to the general public. Remember to include your son or daughter in different clubs and after-school activities. The school year is about learning and continuing to grow with new experiences, including educating your child and their peers about disability and acceptance.
Continue watching those FB posts of kids going back to school. And remember, we are all in this together. We are here to lift our kids up, help them have good experiences, and grow into adults they will someday become. Happy Back To School 2018!