A 504 plan spells out these accommodations for each student. A 504 plan is well suited to a child with arthritis that may have some physical limitations, but does not need special education. Accommodations vary by the child’s needs, severity of disease and location of affected joints.

Americans with Disabilities Act

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requires private schools, day-care centers and nurseries to be accessible to children with disabilities and bans discrimination in hiring and employment.

Are formal plans necessary?

If your child’s arthritis symptoms are not severe and only require mild accommodations, it may be tempting to work out informal arrangements directly with the teacher, PE coaches or school nurse each year. While most teachers are amenable, professionals advise against this casual approach and recommend putting the child’s needs in writing.

“An informal agreement is tempting, but, what if there is a substitute teacher or you come across a teacher that is not quite as loving and kind, or the disease is progressive,” says Liz Delmatoff, a 504 Coordinator and school counselor at George Middle School in Portland, Oregon. “There is never any harm in [creating a document] to provide safety and security for a child. Even though common sense tells us most educators are reasonable, error on being careful.”

Educational Rights Resources

GreatSchools is a national nonprofit whose mission is to inspire and guide parents to become effective champions of their children's education. The site includes a large section on legal rights and advocacy for special education.

This is the official U.S. Department of Education website for information about the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act.

National Dissemination Center for Children with Disabilities (NICHCY) is a national information center that provides parents and educators information about disabilities, legal protections and effective educational practices.

Office of Civil Rights ensures equal access to education and nationally promotes educational excellence through vigorous enforcement of civil rights. This is the site to file a formal complaint for violation of federal education protections.

Parent Technical Assistance Center helps inform families of disabled children about education and other services through individual assistance, workshops and advocacy.  Their alliance consists of 106 Parent Centers across the country.