Intervention Strategies for Terminal Illness

Excerpted from Disruption, Disaster, and Death: Helping Students Deal with Crises.

It is not unlikely that students, during the prekindergarten through 12th grade experience, will have a classmate or will know someone within the school environment (e.g., teacher, paraprofessional, custodian) who has a terminal illness.

Often, the individual with the terminal illness undergoes significant physical, emotional, and perhaps behavioral changes as the illness progresses. Loss of hair, weight loss, irritability, depression, and other manifestations may be observed. Parents and family members should be encouraged to provide as much factual information about the illness as possible to school personnel, and permission should be sought to share information, as needed, with staff members and students.

It is recommend to share information about the illness with students at a time when the affected individual is not present, especially if he or she is a peer. The discussion should begin by encouraging students to talk about any changes in the individual they may have observed (e.g., hair loss, weight loss, and skin color). Factual information about the illness should be provided, with special emphasis placed on the idea that the illness cannot be transmitted to others. Younger children may have to be reminded of the latter concept frequently.

The potential for the individual's death should be discussed openly and honestly, allowing for student questions and concerns. The discussion should also engage students in discussing proactive strategies for interacting positively with the sick individual. Students should be guided toward treating the individual as normally as possible.

More on Helping Students Deal With Crises.

Council for Exceptional Children

Provided in partnership with The Council for Exceptional Children.


If you need to teach it, we have it covered.

Start your free trial to gain instant access to thousands of expertly curated worksheets, activities, and lessons created by educational publishers and teachers.

Start Your Free Trial

Follow us on:

Follow TeacherVision on Facebook
Follow TeacherVision on Google Plus

Highlights

December Calendar of Events
December is full of events that you can incorporate into your standard curriculum! Our Educators' Calendar outlines activities for each event. Happy holidays!

Bullying Prevention Resources
Bullying can cause both physical and emotional harm. Put a stop to classroom bullying, with our bullying prevention resources. Learn how to recognize several forms of bullying and teasing, and discover effective techniques for dealing with and preventing bullying in school.

Conflict Resolution
Teach your students to how resolve conflict amongst themselves without resorting to name-calling, fights, and tattling.

Immigration Resources
Studying immigration brings to light the many interesting and diverse cultures in the world.