A Teacher and the Cystic Fibrosis Student

Teaching today can involve many different dynamics including dealing with those who have learning challenges and those who have little desire to be in school. When a teacher is faced with a student with physical challenges that stem from a medical condition it can be helpful for the teacher to learn about that particular student’s medical condition regarding how it will affect the learning environment and the child’s ability to function during all of the classroom and other school activities. The teacher can have a positive influence on the CF students ability to have a successful academic experience if the teacher can take the time to understand and apply the knowledge learned to the individual in their care.



During the “gaining knowledge” stage of discovering CF, the teacher can pay specific attention to conditions inside the classroom as well as those conditions within the school building and in any of the outside areas that students have access to that may be affected by the special issues of CF that the teacher is being exposed to. This awareness of the school environment while discovering about CF can allow the teacher to apply some practical steps immediately in their thought process so that it may be easier to put those thoughts down on paper and them process them into a plan that will aid their student to learn and participate with greater success.


Some of the issues the teacher may come across are the physical signs of the disorder, the ability of the student to function physically, the need for mediations, and exercise as well as the fact that CF is not contagious; an important fact to impress upon other faculty members and students. This becomes important, as the teacher role should include encouraging all students to develop social relationships with other staff and students and to foster positive self-esteem. The teacher should be concerned with providing as healthy an environment as possible for all students. Addressing the special needs of students who have medical conditions can be achieved through gaining knowledge about any disorders or diseases and learning how to protect and provide a nurturing educational environment.


Teachers are usually involved in creating an Individualized Education Plan (IEP) for students with special needs. Before addressing the process of creating this plan, the teacher should be sure that all persons involved have had the opportunity to learn about cystic fibrosis and the special needs for the age of the student. This plan can help the student by exploring tutoring needs, improvements in the physical environment of the classroom and school in general as well as addressing special situations like physical education, lunchtime and also social development.


One of the issues that the teacher can have a direct impact is with insuring that the classroom environment is as germ-free as possible. It is also important that the CF student be able to wash hands when necessary in-between bouts of coughing, sneezing or blowing his/her nose. When there is not visible dirt on the hands, a CF student may use antibacterial hand gel instead of soap and water. This gel can be kept in the classroom allowing the student to easily use it without leaving the room. During cold and flu season it would be beneficial for other students to have this antibacterial gel available as well. The CF student may need to go to the bathroom more frequently than other students and should not be discouraged from doing so by too rigid of a bathroom schedule.

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