Migraine at School is Here to Guide You: A Step by Step Guide

Migraine at School provides resources for students, parents, and educators to increase awareness and education of migraine for children living in the US. Understanding migraine and headache can help reduce absenteeism and lower chronification of these debilitating disorders. More specifically, the goal of Migraine at School is to ensure that parents and guardians have everything they need step by step, from getting a diagnosis to obtaining school accommodations if needed.

Step 1

Does your child have migraine? The easiest place to start is tracking your child’s symptoms. You can do this with a migraine diary or using a migraine tracking app like Migraine Buddy or Migraine Trainer. Migraine is a lot more than head pain, and knowing other symptoms is important when tracking your child’s migraine. Common migraine symptoms are highlighted in the Migraine at School Student Infographic.

Some symptoms to look for:

  • Sensitivity to light and sound
  • Nausea and/or stomach pain
  • Congestion/runny nose
  • Temporary vision changes like dark sport or sparkles
  • Feels like they have the flu
  • Ear discomfort/pressure
  • Dizziness, brain fog

If you have been tracking your child’s symptoms and suspect your child may have migraine, you can use the pediatric migraine screen. If your child screens yes, then move on to step 2.

Step 2

It’s time to get a diagnosis, so make an appointment with your child’s health care provider. Your child’s healthcare provider will likely not be a headache specialist, so be ready to advocate for your child. Start by downloading the “Your Child May Have Migraine” guide. Using this guide will help your child’s healthcare provider understand the impact of migraine in your child’s life.

Step 3

Getting accommodations. If your child’s migraine is interfering with their education, it is time to consider exploring accommodations your child is entitled to under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act. The best place to start is getting a letter from your child’s healthcare provider. Migraine at School has sample physician letter on the parent page you can easily get signed. Once you have the letter, make an appointment with the school counselor or administration to discuss the needs of your child. The parent infographic on the parent page has a list of possible accommodations you can ask for. If you do not see what your child needs on the list, that’s ok, ask for what you need.

You may find your school is amenable to accommodations. But, still consider getting a formal 504 plan. It is never easy to predict when a school may no longer be easy to work with. A 504 plan ensures that your child receives the accommodations they need.

If your child’s migraine is more severe, you may need an IEP (Individualized Education Program). This is a much more comprehensive plan than a 504. You can find a sample IEP form and a sample health plan on the parent page of the Migraine at School site.

Step 4

Helping your child manage their migraine. The easiest place to start is with lifestyle modifications. This can feel overwhelming, but start small and build from there.

Some lifestyle modifications for students to consider:

  • Reduce screen time
  • Exercise regularly
  • Keep a regular sleep schedule
  • Manage stress with mindfulness
  • Wear sunglasses or migraine glasses if light is an issue
  • Try going scent free

It is helpful to use the migraine tracking tool to see where your child may get triggered. Often it can be a few triggers stacked that can bring on an attack.

It is also important to note depression and anxiety or common comorbidities with migraine. Prioritizing and managing mental health is an important part of migraine care.

Step 5

Become an advocate. Migraine is a highly stigmatized and misunderstood disorder. The more people know about migraine and understand it, the more we can reduce the stigma attached to migraine. You can be a part of this important movement by becoming a Migraine at School Ambassador. Becoming an ambassador takes less than 30 minutes through online training. Sharing this program with your community helps ensure that all children with migraine are given the chance to get the education they deserve.

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This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The Migraine.com team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

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