Talking to teachers about your transplant

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Tutor talking to student

Most people agree that having a good education means more opportunities for a good job and better pay in the future. But it can be hard to stay focused on doing well in school if you don’t know what you want to do in the future or if you aren’t feeling well.

There are supports and techniques you can use to help you make it through your schooling and get ready for life afterwards.

People with chronic health problems sometimes have gaps in their learning because of school absences or an inability to concentrate. Because of this, it is really important to communicate with your school and let them know you have a transplant. There are different ways you and your parents can do this:

  • meetings with your teachers
  • letters
  • email.

To make sure you cover all the most important points about transplant, you might want to show your teachers a factsheet (for a kidney or a liver transplant, as appropriate). The factsheet can help your teachers and other school staff learn more about transplants and how they affect you and your schooling.

Individual education plan

When your teachers know more about your transplant, they can better decide if you need to follow any special education program to help you get through school. Depending on how much your transplant has affected you, an individual education plan (IEP) might need to be put in place.

An IEP is a written plan that describes any accommodations or services you might need to help you with your learning. Many young people with transplant have an IEP.

Here are some examples of accommodations that might be in an IEP to make it easier for you at school.

  • Having extra time to complete classroom assignments
  • Being able to complete tasks or present information in other ways (for instance through recorded answers, demonstrations, dramatizations, role play, taking exams orally)
  • Being able to record lessons so you can review them later
  • Having handouts of notes or getting copies of a teacher’s notes
  • Getting a variety of learning tools, such as special computers, to make it easier for you to complete your assignments

Your parents or your teacher can request that an IEP be written for you. The IEP is prepared with input from you, your parents, your teachers, your school’s principal and resource teacher and perhaps a psychologist on your transplant team or within your school board.

Other ways to deal with schoolwork after a transplant

Explore other special needs

If you are trying your best and not doing well in school, talk to a teacher or a guidance counsellor to see if any other testing might be needed. Many smart people have learning disabilities and don’t realize it until they get tested.

If you don’t feel that your problem is being taken seriously, talk to someone on your medical team. Sometimes hospitals have psychologists who can help you figure out the best way for you learn and do well at school.

Develop good study habits

Sometimes it isn’t in a person’s nature to plan ahead and do their work well before it’s due. Some of us are procrastinators and leave all our writing and studying until the last possible minute! But we know from experience and research that getting into good study habits means less stress and better marks.

When you have health problems, it is wiser to plan ahead and not leave things until just before they’re due. This is in case your health takes a turn for the worse and you can’t cram for a test or write your paper the night before. If you want to have better study habits, ask other teenagers who get good marks about their strategies and then try them out and adapt them if you need to.

Check out these tips for forming good study habits from

Plan for absences

“Be prepared”, like the Boy Scouts’ motto, is a good strategy for days when you need to miss school. Whether you miss school rarely or a lot (for instance because of health problems), having a plan will help things run much more smoothly.

Some people choose one person in each class and ask them if they can get homework details by phone or email. Others tell their teachers about their health issues and make a plan with the teacher to get missed work. If you know you’ll be missing school, even if it’s just for a clinic visit, talk to your teacher a couple of days beforehand so you can get the work in advance.

It’s generally easier to stay on top of work than fall behind and try to catch up. Figure out a system that works for you before you need it and then adapt it as your school workload changes over time.

Focus on the future

Getting through school can be very challenging at times. Having plans and goals for your future can help make some of the difficulties of school a bit easier to manage.

If your school offers co-op, seriously consider using it as an opportunity to try out something that you think you might be interested in. Even if you decide not to go into that field after your placement experience, you’ve used your time well. It’s better to know now than after years of college or university that a certain job is not the right one for you!

Do the same with your 40 hours of community service… instead of doing anything to get your hours, try to use your time wisely by learning about areas that you think might interest you.

Keep a balance

Most importantly of all, try to keep the different parts of your life in balance. Spending every minute studying isn’t healthy for anyone. Spending all of your free time out with friends is not the best way to go either. Try to make sure that you have time every week for studying, friends, family and leisure (time for yourself to relax or keep up with your hobbies).

Last updated: November 30th 2017