Bipolar Disorder in Children: School Issues - Topic Overview
During a severe depressive or manic episode, you may need to request a "time-out" from heavy academic requirements for your child to help reduce stress and to keep the child from falling too far behind. Your child may not need a reduction in schoolwork for most mood episodes. But if the symptoms are severe, this reduction may help keep the child on track at school. You may also want to think about getting extra help (such as a tutor) when needed to assist your child in keeping up with schoolwork.
If your child's symptoms are severe, placement in a day hospital or residential treatment center that treats children with bipolar disorder may be helpful in meeting your child's needs during an extended illness. But these treatment centers are not always available. It can also be helpful if a designated teacher at your child's school is specially trained in dealing with children who have bipolar disorder. This person can be a good resource and a "safe person" for your child to go to for help during the school day, if needed.
If your school is not understanding or does not support your child's special needs for periodically reduced academic performance, you may be able to work with your child's doctor to get those needs met in the school system. Supporting your child, while not letting the child use bipolar disorder as an excuse to miss assignments, can help him or her develop and succeed academically and socially.