How Can Teachers And School Systems Help My Child Manage Bipolar Disorder?

Question: How can teachers and school systems help my child manage bipolar disorder?

Answer: This is a very important thing to do. It's very important to involve the school or whatever educational environment the child is in because we talk a lot about medications and we mention something about therapy. But really, the third piece of what I call the treatment triangle, are educational interventions. And so it's very important to interface with the school in order to ensure that number one, your child is getting a good educational experience and being able to learn, but also just as importantly, number two, that the environment is not negative or causing more problems to the child but rather might even be therapeutic in some manner.

For example if it's a very strict classroom and there's no kind of flexible accommodations made for the child because of their mood state or their medication status then they may be getting a lot of negative comments or negative feedback leading to worse self esteem and worse outcome. So what they really need to do is have individualized education program if they're not doing well in their classroom. And to do that really the parent and the treatment team of the child has to be well informed of what the educational opportunities are for individualized education plans and other kinds of accommodations that can be done at the school. So it's very important to be able to do that.

If you can't do that yourself, there are sometimes people you can contact who are educational specialists who can act on your behalf to interface with the school in order to make these accommodations stick. At any rate, it's important to first educate those at the school about your child and about what bipolar disorder is in children if they don't already know. And then the second thing is to be very insistent that a good academic plan whether that involves testing, whether that involves special accommodations, whether that involves a smaller class or different hours of the day that the child is in class that these accommodations be made and tested regularly to ensure that in fact this plan is working.

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