Arthritis and special education

Do students with juvenile idiopathic arthritis (o-JIA) need special education?

Maybe they do! Maybe they need accommodations under the ADA!

Juvenile idiopathic arthritis (o-JIA) is an autoimmune condition that causes painful inflammation in the joints of young people. Yes, arthritis is not limited to the elderly (e.g., your editor). According to a literature review by Thierry et al. (2014), the incidence of o-JIA varied widely across 33 studies, ranging between 1.6 and 23 cases per 100,000 children, with girls more likely to be affected than boys. Said another way, 100s of thousands of children and youths are affected.

The severity of o-JIA differs from child to child. The Mayo Clinic described the symptoms in this way:

Juvenile idiopathic arthritis can cause persistent joint pain, swelling and stiffness. Some children may experience symptoms for only a few months, while others have symptoms for many years.

Some types of juvenile idiopathic arthritis can cause serious complications, such as growth problems, joint damage and eye inflammation. Treatment focuses on controlling pain and inflammation, improving function, and preventing damage.

As one can infer, there are different types of o-JIA. Some of the following resources will help interested readers to learn about them.

It is possible that symptoms can be so severe that they are disabling, resulting in a learner being identified as eligible for an IEP as a child with "Other Health Impairment." Alternatively, schools and parents may create a 504 plan a child.

Some Links about o-JIA


Boynes-Shuck, A. (2013, 13 March). Education and JA: Get the facts on 504 Plans and juvenile arthritis – by Ashley Boynes-Shuck. Arthritis Ashley: Living a Positive Life While Chronically Ill.

Gilbert, A. (2017, 19 June). What teachers need to know about juvenile idiopathic arthritis. TeacherWire.

Lightner, L. (2020, 2 October). Juvenile arthritis: 504 Plans and IEP accommodation ideas. A Day in Our Shoes.

Thierry, S., Fautrel, B., Lemelle, I., & Guillemin, F. (2014). Prevalence and incidence of juvenile idiopathic arthritis: A systematic review. Joint Bone Spine, 81(2), 112-117.