Children with migraine can often exhibit behavioural changes which is part of the early warning signs of an impending migraine. For instance, children are reported to look very pale, be extremely quiet and inattentive or become very disruptive, boisterous and have inappropriate high levels of energy.
As a teacher there are some practical approaches you can take to help the child deal with his/her condition:
- Discuss any concerns that you may have with the parent/guardian of a child you suspect of having migraine.
- It is worth consulting your school nurse if you have any children in your class that have been diagnosed with migraine or if you suspect they are suffering from this condition as she will be able to offer some practical advice for the child's migraine management in class.
- For some children with diagnosed migraine they may have medications to treat an attack. Timing of these medications is crucial; please consult your school's policy on their medication/illness at school guidelines.
- If you feel that the child's performance in class is being affected by migraine, it is advised that you have early contact with the parents/carers before this becomes a genuine problem.
- Flexibility around homework deadlines should be considered to relieve any additional pressure on the child during a period when their abilities could be affected by their migraine.
- Be understanding towards the child during an attack; who in addition to feeling ill, may also be feeling very embarrassed. A full-blown attack may be prevented if a child feels able to ask for help as soon as they begin to feel unwell.
- Work with the parent/carer and child to recognise any possible triggers if attacks frequently occur at school. Could anxiety due to work expectations or bullying be a factor? Would allowing the child to have a snack or drink during lessons help prevent an attack? Is the white board causing problems? Would opening a window help?
- Work with the child and parent/carer to discuss the most appropriate way to help if the child experiences an attack whilst in your care.
- A migraine attack in children may last for as little as an hour, but can be as long as three days. Generally they last for between two and four hours (shorter than the average adult attack).
A child can feel 'washed out' for a couple of days after an attack but the symptoms will resolve completely between attacks. The frequency of attacks varies, but the average is one per month. However some children may experience an attack each week, others may go for months before an attack reoccurs.