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How can I help?

Introduction

As a teacher there are many ways that you can support a student who has M.E. For many young people with the condition, their education and ability to stay in school is significantly impacted. Supportive teachers can be vital in enabling young people with M.E. to continue their education in school. If you are a teacher and want to know more about the condition and how you can help your students, we have developed a resource that can inform and support your practice.

This page was developed with funding from the National Lottery Community Fund and was created in collaboration with young people with M.E. and parents of young people with M.E. Their input informed awareness-raising sessions that we held in secondary schools and the development of resources to aid teachers to help students with M.E. participate in school life.

“I would want my teacher to understand that I did truly want to learn and be at school, and that I would have loved more support from teachers. I found the smallest things a struggle and my concentration and memory are poor because of my M.E.”

Symptoms of M.E.

Post-exertional malaise is a hallmark symptom of M.E. It has been described as, “delayed and prolonged worsening of symptoms and loss of stamina after physical, cognitive or emotional activity leading to a reduction in functional ability."

There are a range of symptoms and it is important to know that people with M.E. may only experience a few of them and at varying levels of severity. Some more common examples are feeling generally unwell, unrefreshing sleep, chronic pain, sleep disturbance, headaches, problems with cognition, speech and language problems, poor temperature control, dizziness, hypersensitivity to light and sound, nausea and loss of appetite. You can read more about the symptoms of M.E. in young people here.

This short 5 minute video by the pediatrician Dr. David Bell clearly and concisely describes the main symptoms of M.E.


What are the most important things that you can do for young people with M.E.?

  • Belief

M.E. is a neurological condition that affects a number of systems in the body. It’s an invisible illness, I may be ill even if I don’t look ill.

  • Allowed to rest

My M.E. means that I need to be allowed to rest and balance my time and activities. Many people with M.E. manage their condition through something called ‘pacing’, as M.E. fluctuates and varies in severity over time.

  • Health is prioritized

The impact that M.E. has on my body means that my health needs must be prioritised over education and other activities. This doesn’t mean that I don’t want to, or that I’m lazy..

  • Risk

If I over exert myself at the beginning of my illness it makes it likely that I will be unwell for longer and maybe become more severely affected. .


'How can I help?' resource

Our ‘How can I help?’ resource was informed through the combined experience of parents of young people with M.E. and young people with M.E. By working with these groups, we were able to explore what practical help could support young people living with M.E. needed to feel supported to remain in education. (Insert link)


Zoe's story

Zoe Galbraith, 20, is a music student at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland and developed M.E. when she was 16 years old. Flexibility and support from her teachers enabled her to continue at school and allow her to achieve her dream career as a music teacher.

You can read her full story here. (Insert link) (We could instead use a quote and shorter description.)


Films

These short films give a quick overview of some aspects of M.E. and may help to give a better understanding of the illness and its impact.

Diagnosis & Management of M.E.

Here are some films that illustrate the difficulties in diagnosis and management. These films accompany a primer (2017) for medical practitioners to work with young people with M.E. Two world class M.E./CFS paediatricians discuss management and diagnosis in 2 short videos.

Sensory difficulties

This animation explores the sensory difficulties that can accompany M.E. Many people find noise, light or smells severely affect their ability to function once they are living with M.E.



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