|Dear School Nurse,|
A student in your school has been diagnosed with an autoimmune disorder called celiac disease (CD). While this will affect some aspects of classroom and school management, patience and understanding can bring about the necessary changes that will quickly become a natural part of the school experience for all involved.
What is celiac disease?
In people with CD, eating certain types of grain-based proteins sets off an autoimmune response which causes damage to the tiny fingerlike protrusions, called villi, on the lining of the small intestine. Because nutrition is absorbed into the bloodstream through these villi, a person with CD can become malnourished--regardless of the quantity or quality of the food eaten. The proteins that cause these difficulties are collectively called gluten and are found in wheat, barley, rye and, oats* (WBRO), as well as all of their derivatives.
What are the Symptoms?
Symptoms may or may not occur in the digestive system. For example, one person might have diarrhea and abdominal pain, while another person has irritability or depression. In fact, irritability is one of the most common symptoms in children. Symptoms of celiac disease may include (but are not limited to) one or more of the following:
Symptoms can present themselves almost immediately or up to as many as 24 hours after exposure to the offending grains. In some cases the patient may not exhibit any visible symptoms. Because no two celiacs exhibit exactly the same symptoms, please refer to the back cover of this booklet to see a list of those particular to this student. Contact the parent/guardian or CSA for a more extensive list of possible symptoms.
How is CD treated?
How will I be involved?
Whose responsibility is it?
Where do I find out more about celiac disease?
The goal is to provide an environment where the child with CD can learn self-management skills without being consumed by the illness. An atmosphere designed to foster responsible decision making will ultimately help the child perform well both in and out of the classroom.
Thank you for your help and support.
1 Fasano et al., Archives of Internal Medicine . 2003 Feb 10;163(3):286-92.
*Clinical studies have shown that pure oats can be tolerated by some people with celiac disease. Pure, uncontaminated oats sources are not readily available at this time and therefore, it is suggested that oats be avoided, especially by those who are newly-diagnosed.