Preparing For School & The Workplace

Knowing What To Expect In School

Classrooms are normally very structured environments where everyone is treated the same and everyone is expected to follow the same rules. This type of environment can help a teacher. But, it also means that you might need to do things that are generally labeled “against the rules,” like going to the bathroom during the middle of class. You may need to request exceptions to certain classroom rules because you have different needs than the other students. Be confident and not embarrassed about expressing what you need to your teachers.

Teachers May Need Help To Understand The Needs Of A Student With Sickle Cell

For children with sickle cell, fatigue and pain can influence their ability to concentrate in school. They are also more frequently absent from school compared to other children because they must attend doctors’ appointments or because they are having pain episodes. Children with sickle cell may require extra help or adaptations to the usual school routine.

Emotional Well-Being

Children with sickle cell are often smaller in size, have delayed puberty and experience jaundice or yellowing of the skin and eyes. This makes them an easy target for bullying and teasing. Because they have to be careful when exercising, they may also have fewer opportunities to play with other kids. Teachers may be able to organize team building activities that allow these children to socialize and build relationships with their peers.

Recognizing Pain

Children with sickle cell may experience pain, and it is essential that teachers know how to react. Parents may want to provide care plans to teachers for symptom management.

{H2} Individualized Education Plans (IEP) can help some students with sickle cell

A 504 plan or an individualized education plan (IEP) provides adaptations to a child’s regular education program. A 504 plan is monitored by classroom teachers, whereas an IEP is controlled and delivered by additional support staff. Both plans are documents to ensure remedial instruction. Parents are involved in the development of the plan, which should be updated yearly to meet the child’s needs.

Preparing For The Workplace

Work-Life Health Balance

Most people have to deal with regular work-life balance. People with sickle cell who work have to deal with work-life-medical care balance. This means prioritizing your doctors’ appointments and healthy habits just as much as your work deadlines and responsibilities. It can feel like a lot to juggle, but staying as healthy as possible will help allow you to continue working.

You Can Work Hard And Take Care Of Yourself

If and when you enter the workforce, it may be a good idea to communicate your sickle cell needs to your Human Resources Department so that they can understand your needs. You might not want to tell your employer about your sickle cell for fear of being discriminated against or not given the job in the first place. But communicating about your sickle cell might help you to plan collaboratively with your workplace to see how you can best be supported. If you are not sure how to start these conversations, look for guidance with the Sickle Cell Information Center. They have resources available to give to your employer.

You may want to talk to your workplace about the following:

  • Flexible working hours (allowing working from home if possible and necessary)
  • Part-time hours or job-share
  • Well-heated working environment
  • Access to water and bathroom breaks
  • Being able to sit down when needed
  • Allowed time off for medical appointments
  • Elevator access


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November 2023.

This website is intended for U.S. residents.

The information provided is for educational purposes only and is not intended to replace discussions with a healthcare provider.