Middle Childhood Intervention: Module Two – Special Needs & Conditions

Category — 2.8. Children with Chronic Illness: HIV and AIDS


To get general information about HIV and AIDS, please visit the zero to six part of this course.

Children with HIV/AIDS have a different experience with school and life than their peers. They live with the knowledge that they may die. Some of them may miss a lot of days of school. Others may perform less well than their peers in some or all academic areas. Most children with HIV/AIDS have typical intelligence, but they still perform less well academically than their peers, either because they miss too many days of school, or because their illness makes it harder for them to concentrate.

Because some children with HIV/AIDS miss a lot of days of school, there are things the school teacher can do  to make sure that these children still feel that they belong in the classroom. The following can also help the classmates of these children feel that their peer is part of the classroom, when he or she is not there physically:

  • Make outlines of class lessons and mail or email them to the family;
  • Write a “get well soon” card, get all the students to sign it, and send it to the family;
  • Periodically mention the child who is absent in order for his or her classmates not to forget about him.

Children with HIV/AIDS do not usually have Individual Education Plans (IEPs). They are usually monitored by the school nurse, who watches their development very closely. The school nurse could also help children with HIV/AIDS with any medication they may have to take at school. In order to make sure that children with HIV/AIDS are safe at all times, it is recommended that teachers:

  • Communicate frequently, or as frequently as possible, with the child’s parents;
  • Have a plan ready in case the child has to be rushed to the hospital;
  • Have a plan ready in case the child injures him or herself (especially if it is an open injury where blood is coming out of the child’s body);
  • Watch the child and report any change in his or her behavior to the school nurse or parents;
  • Inform the child’s classmates that the child may appear very tired at times (this should be mentioned very sensitively. Children need to understand why their classmates may not always be able to participate in certain activities with them).

Some children with HIV/AIDS may experience sadness because they may not be able to participate in certain types of sports. They may also experience sadness because they know that they have a serious disease that could kill them.  It is therefore very important that the child’s mental health be monitored, and that regular sessions with the school counselor be provided if and when they are needed. For children who experience serious levels of sadness, and perhaps depression, regular sessions with a clinical psychologist may be recommended.

Many children with HIV/AIDS grow up to become fully contributing members of society. Others pass away in their teens or early adulthood years. It is important to keep that in mind when working with a child who has HIV/AIDS.

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August 26, 2012   No Comments