504 Plan

For a student struggling with IBD, a 504 Plan is imperative to academic success. A 504 Plan is developed for a student with a disability by his or her school to provide support. This form of accommodation eliminates discrimination against these children and protects their rights. Known as a 504 Plan, this accommodation was created in Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act. A 504 Plan usually includes accommodations, such as environmental changes, instructional changes, and/or curriculum changes.

Such accommodations typically mean that a student may receive extra time on assignments, shortened assignments, and/or separate assignments. Additionally, a student on a 504 Plan may be allowed to leave the classroom if necessary and may be able to take medication or eat and drink in class. As part of a 504 Plan, teachers may also be able to help a student catch up on missed assignments or classes, and the school may even provide private tutoring if needed. These accommodations help students with IBD tremendously, particularly during a flare but even while dealing with daily symptoms.

Public schools are legally required to follow 504 Plans, but even for students attending private schools, it is definitely possible to convince them to follow the plan or at least arrange certain accommodations. Most schools genuinely care about their students, and even if they are not legally required to provide accommodations, they will most likely be inclined to follow the plan.

Not only does a 504 Plan help with everyday school work, but it also helps with standardized testing. If you are taking the PSAT, Pre-ACT, SAT, ACT, SAT Subject Tests, etc., you may be eligible for accommodations during the testing process. For instance, you may be able to take the test privately or with a small group of people. You may also be able to have extra time and/or stop-the-clock breaks, or you may be permitted to eat and drink during the test. The standardized testing boards may be able to provide other accommodations if you apply for them and include a copy of your 504 Plan. 

If you suffer from IBD and don’t have a 504 Plan, it would be exceedingly beneficial for you to look into it. Accommodations in school and during standardized testing can help counteract some of the negative affects IBD can have on your academic success. A 504 Plan allows those suffering from IBD to have a fair chance at academic success—which in turn helps remove the negative impact IBD might have on their college applications.

The Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation have a template section 504 plan for children with IBD.  I also found an article that explains how to receive accommodations through a 504 plan, which definitely simplified the process. 


Talking to Your Teachers about IBD

Being a student with IBD can be ridiculously difficult sometimes.  I know, first hand, that schools and teachers just don’t get it.  However, you have to work with your parents to make school a little bit easier. 


The first thing that you should definitely do if you have been diagnosed with IBD is send out an email at the beginning of the year, explaining what your disease is and how it affects you.  If you’re in a flare, it isn’t going to help if your teachers and the school don’t understand what is happening.  They might just think that you have a stomach bug when you actually suffer from a debilitating disease.  


You might even want to set up a meeting with all of your teachers and your parents, so they fully understand everything that you go through.  Do not be shy about telling them what’s wrong because they will help you out more if they understand.  


Make it clear to your teachers that you don’t want them to treat strangely, especially in front of your peers.  This way, you won’t stick out to your classmates.  They won’t even know if you don’t want them to. 


One of the most important things is to try and get accommodations for your disease.  If you attend a public school, the school is required to follow these accommodations by law.  Even if you attend a private school, you can still talk to the staff and ask for accommodations.  These are especially helpful if you are in a flare, and you are finding it difficult to go to school or stay in school.  


The best thing to do is to just simply be open with your teachers and the school in general.  They won’t judge you for your disease.  If you reach out to them, they will most likely be accepting and helpful.  Don’t stay quiet if you are sick.  It isn’t your fault that you are having trouble in school, and if you tell them, they will know this.  


I hope that this post helped some students, who have a difficult time talking about their IBD.  I will have a more in-depth post up later about accommodations and the 504 Plan specifically.  


Getting Through School in a Flare

Getting through school is hard enough without having to deal with diseases such as Ulcerative Colitis and Crohn’s. Unfortunately, students suffering from IBD don’t have much choice about going to school. If your case is extremely severe, you may consider homeschooling as an option, but for most teens, staying in school with your peers is exceedingly important. In this post, I’ll discuss how to get through school when you are in a flare.

As someone who has struggled through a flare while remaining in school, I know that these tips can help immensely.


  1. You and your parents should talk to the school and your teachers immediately.


For the sake of your well-being, you and your parents should set up a meeting with your teachers as well as the head of the school (if possible) to inform them of your disease and your symptoms. You should also let them know what medications you currently take and what procedures you may have to undergo during a flare. You should tell them how this will affect you academically and ask for help and cooperation from the school. Talking to them in a meeting will help them understand your disease on a more personal level, and they will take your flare more seriously.


  1. Ask about a 504 Plan/Accommodations.


The next step after scheduling a meeting is to look into a 504 Plan or Accommodations. A 504 Plan can really help, especially in public schools, which are required to follow such a plan by law. Even in private institutions, however, accommodations or a 504 Plan may be accepted. These plans allow for a variety of accommodations, such as extra time on tests/assignments or being allowed to leave the room if necessary.


  1. Take care of your body.


After talking to the school and, hopefully, receiving accommodations for your IBD, you must try to help yourself by taking care of your body. One of the most critical components to treating IBD is sleep. As a teenager, it may seem impossible to go to bed early and sleep for a substantial amount of time, but doing so can change how you feel during the school day. If you try going to bed early, you don’t feel as tired as you would if you went to bed at a normal time. This is true for all people, but it is even more important for teens suffering from IBD.


  1. Eat a healthy diet.


Another difficult but essential task is to eat a healthy diet. Teens like to eat junk food, but it harms your body and makes it more difficult to focus on school. Try to eat the healthiest option at home and at school. Every time you eat, think about how the specific foods you are consuming will affect your IBD.


  1. Limit extracurricular activities.


Limiting activities is so challenging for teens. Most high school students wake up, go to school for eight hours, play sports or participate in some type of extracurricular activity for a few hours, go home, do homework, and then go to sleep. This a busy schedule to maintain, and it is impractical for a teenager with IBD. Limit extracurricular activities as much as possible when you are in a flare. You don’t want to exhaust your body and make your symptoms worse by participating in too many activities.


Going through school with IBD is tough, and you have to go about it with caution. You must have the support of your parents, your school, and your teachers during a flare. While seeking academic success, you should simply try your best and be careful not to hurt yourself. It is essential that you not strain yourself too much while going through a flare.



Handling a School Workload

The workload in high school is often difficult to handle.  But when you have a chronic disease, that workload can feel almost impossible to keep up with. You may feel too tired to stay up to complete your homework or to even stay awake in class. These issues can be detrimental to your happiness and your GPA. However, by seeking accommodations and by following the tips below, your illness can have less or even no impact on your school workload.


Tip #1: Learn about your assignments early.


If you truly want to be successful in school, you will need to talk to your teachers and ask them about upcoming assignments before they are even assigned.  Tell your teachers about your situation and explain how knowing about assignments early will help you perform better in their classes. If you receive your assignments early on, you should be able to have plenty of time to complete them.


Tip #2: Find out what your best studying times are.


Some people are morning people, and some are night owls. Others are somewhere in between. You need to find out when you are the most alert and most capable of working efficiently. If you are your best early in the morning, then you will have to wake up early and start working. If you’re most efficient at night, then you’ll have to stay up late to complete assignments. You won’t be able to work properly if you are trying to work when you are tired or not feeling attentive.


Tip #3: Stay on top of deadlines.


If your teacher gives you a deadline, write it down immediately. Start working in little blocks of time so you don’t end up having to complete the entire assignment at once. It will save you from experiencing excess stress.


Tip #4: Keep organized.


When you have IBD, your symptoms can make your life feel hectic.  You don’t want your school work to feel hectic as well. Try getting binders for each class, color-coding your notes, getting a planner- whatever you need to do to feel organized and ready to work.


Tip #5: Tell your teachers about how you’re feeling.


If you have accommodations, you shouldn’t need to talk to your teachers, but if you don’t have accommodations, you should definitely tell your teachers about your disease and ask them if they can help you feel less stressed. They should be understanding of your situation considering you have a painful disease preventing you from completing work. They could potentially adjust assignments for you so you don’t feel overwhelmed by the workload.


These 5 tips can both lower your stress level and save your GPA. Maintaining a high school workload while suffering from IBD can be a challenge, but it can be done. You just have to make sure you apply yourself correctly and ask for help if necessary.