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Children and young people

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Going to school

Going to school

How much of an effect your M.E. has on your education will depend on your symptoms. You might find you need alone time to rest during break and lunchtime, or you might not be able to go to all your lessons. You might need to do some learning at home instead of going to school, or you might be too unwell to go to school at all for a while.

It’s important to remember that your experience of M.E. might be different to someone else’s, and your symptoms can change over time. Something you were able to do last week could be more difficult this week so try not to push yourself too hard if you’re struggling. It can be tempting to try and achieve the same things as your friends but this might make you feel worse. You might find some subjects more tiring than others, such as PE and Drama. It’s great to continue with lessons that you enjoy, but you should remember that for now, it’s important to rest and recover.

Lots of young people are affected by M.E. and your school will be able to make adjustments for you if you’re well enough to go to some of your classes. Your parent or carer should contact your school so they can talk about how your teachers and the school nurse can best support you.

Some things that your school or college might be able to provide include:

  • a quiet place to go if you need to rest, perhaps a reading room or medical office; you may want to use this space to practice relaxation or have something to eat
  • a named adult that you are able to go to if you feel unwell, or someone to talk to if you feel upset or worried
  • letting your teachers know that you need to take breaks, and that you shouldn’t be expected to do the same activities as other children if you don’t feel well enough
  • some guidance on catching up with missed work, if you have been away from school for a while; this might be available in accessible formats, such as videos and online learning packs
  • a reduction in the hours you attend school for, or having extensions for homework assignments.

If you have missed more than 15 days in a row from school, your school, doctor or parents/carers can ask your local council to arrange teaching at home. This will provide you with at least five hours a week (or one a day), although the actual amount can be agreed based on what activity level you can cope with.

What about my friends at school?

As a young person with M.E. it can feel very lonely to be at home while other people are at school. Try and keep in contact with your friends by text, social media, email, Skype or phone calls. If you have been away from school for some time, you may be nervous about returning. It can be difficult to explain your illness to your friends, and you may find that some of them struggle to understand. 

It might be a good idea to ask your mum, dad or carer to talk to your friends’ parents about your condition, so that they are able to answer any questions that your friends may have. If anyone at school is mean to you because of your illness, don’t be afraid to let your parent, carer or teacher know. You’re probably not the only person they’re being unpleasant to, and they may need help understanding what M.E. is and how it affects you.

Read more about how to talk to your friends about M.E.

How will having M.E. affect my hobbies?

This depends partly on your hobbies. Physical hobbies such as playing sport might become difficult for you and trying to push yourself to carry on with them could make you feel worse. You might find it difficult to concentrate for as long as you used to, so hobbies like reading and playing video games may be more draining than they used to be. 

To help your body get better, you might have to stop doing some of your favourite hobbies for a while, or do them less often. You could try to enjoy your hobbies in a less energy intensive way – if you enjoy football but are too unwell to play, perhaps you could watch it on TV or join an online group. If you feel that you’re able to start doing some of your favourite activities again, try and set small, achievable goals to begin with.

Read more about managing energy and rest.