Advice - How to Help your Child
- A confident parent makes a confident school!
- Your child’s condition must be on record even if it is very mild or if they only usually have a syncopal episode at home. It is better for the staff to be prepared and know what to expect in case an episode does occur in their presence.
- If your child has not received an official diagnosis, it is important that the staff are still informed of any symptoms. Not having a diagnosis can mean that staff are not as sensitive and accommodating to the condition, but it remains essential that they are competent in supporting your child nonetheless.
- Be open and honest to all about your child’s condition. It is imperative that everyone can properly understand syncope in order to provide the best support possible for them whilst they are out of your care. Awareness of syncope is the key to your child having a more understanding and supportive educational experience.
- It is difficult not to want to wrap your child up in cotton wool and protect them from harm, but at the same time they need to lead an ‘ordinary’ life even if the risks of doing so may mean episodes are triggered. If everyone around the child understands syncope and knows how to help them if they do have an episode, they can live an ‘ordinary’ life in their learning environment, yet know that they will be protected and supported if the need arises.
- Keep in close contact with the staff in your child’s place of education to ensure that they are being properly supported and that their condition is being monitored.
What the staff need to know
- Individual triggers, symptoms, warning signs and side effects specific to your child’s condition. Each case is different and it is vital that those responsible for your child in their educational setting know the details of the particular case.
- Who they should/can inform. All staff/carers that may come into contact with your child should be informed and educated on the individual condition and management of it. It is at the discretion of yourself and your child as to whether your child’s peers are informed. Many children are sensitive about everyone knowing, but many have found that a simple explanation can help them to feel less self-conscious and can mean that their peers are not panicked or scared upon witnessing a syncopal episode. Openness about the condition can also prevent it from being used as a weapon by bullies.
- If you decide that your child’s friends and peers should be informed, it is necessary that this is performed in a way that will not embarrass the individual, or cause alarm to the other children.
- What to do in the event of a syncopal episode. Draw up a care plan with the staff and ensure that this is circulated. You will need to decide upon a post-episode procedure i.e whether your child should be sent home, rest in-house and when it is necessary to call an ambulance.
- Highlight that your child is in every other respect, a typical healthy child and that they should not be excluded from any aspect of the curriculum or extra-curricular activity unless otherwise stated by yourself or a medical professional. Reinforce the necessity of having at least one condition- trained member of staff on the premises at all times to manage the situation should an episode occur. This can be more easily enforced if all staff are trained and fully understand from the outset.
What you can do
- Ensure that relevant staff have the contact details of STARS and are aware of the education website. Inform them of the information packs, educational and training DVD and the availability of in-school presentations.
- Offer to talk to staff/peers yourself to explain your child’s individual condition.
- Reinforce the necessity for all staff to be made aware of the condition.
- For younger children, if you are able, offer to accompany your child to swimming lessons, on school outings, trips etc. Staff will probably welcome this and be more amenable to your situation.
- If your child suffers with incontinence during their syncopal episode, arrange for a change of clothes to be kept at school.
- Try not to worry about your child whilst they are out of your care in their educational setting. If a support system is established and staff are aware and able to cope in the event of an episode, they will be safe.
- Contact your local education authority for more information on special educational needs if your child requires them.