If your child is having a hard time in school because of his or her alopecia, you may want to consider creating a 504 Plan through your child’s school. A 504 Plan is based on section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the Americans with Disabilities Act and specifies that no one with a disability can be excluded from participating in federally funded programs or activities, including elementary, secondary or post secondary schooling. “Disability” in this context refers to a “physical or mental impairment which substantially limits one or more major life activity. Alopecia is a physical impairment. Click here for a sample 504 Plan.
Following are some suggested accommodations for a 504 plan for a child with alopecia:
- The child is able to wear a hat if he or she wants to wear one.
- The child is allowed to have a buddy in his or her class who knows the child and knows he or she has alopecia.
- The child’s classmates are to be educated about his or her alopecia. For example, brochures and/or DVDs are distributed to all classrooms or, in elementary school, the teacher reads a story about alopecia. All of the teachers and staff are educated about the child’s alopecia so that they can be sensitive and supportive about any related issues that may occur.
CAP will also provide brochures and/or information about in-services to teachers, parents, and students to help educate them about alopecia. If you have any additional questions or concerns, please call Jeff at 610-741-5552.
Educate your School
Below are some sample letters to help you to educate your child’s classmates and the community about alopecia areata. We have found that with kids of all ages, knowledge is KEY. The more they know about why your child has alopecia, the less likely they will be to tease or make fun of your child. Take the time to teach others why your child has no hair. It will go a long way to building self-esteem in your child and to making their school days happy ones. If you would like to request brochures to help educate your school and/or community, please fill out our contact form and we will gladly send you more information. A special thanks to CAP Kid Taylor Eck and her mom Mary and to CAP Kid Jackson Burke and his parents Brad and Erin Burke for sharing these letters with us.
Sample Letter to Classmates:
Dear Classmate: Hi!! My name is Taylor and I am going to be one of your classmates this year in Mrs. Smith’s class. Just like you, I am very excited about starting first grade. I wanted to tell you a little bit about myself. I love to dance, play softball, and do gymnastics and arts and crafts. But, there is one thing that is very different about me — I have no hair!! I have a disease called Alopecia Areata that makes all my hair fall out. Lots of people have it, but nobody here at our school. I am not sick nor can you “catch” it. Sometimes I wear hats or scarves or I may even wear my wig, but other times I just go bald!! I just wanted to let you know so you wouldn’t be surprised on the first day of school. I don’t mind answering your questions, but I hope you won’t tease me or make me feel sad because I have no hair. I can’t wait to meet you and I am sure we will be great friends! Enjoy the rest of your summer and I will see you soon!! Your Friend, Taylor PS If your Mom or Dad has questions they can call my mom…… she will be glad to talk to them!! Her name is Mary. And her phone number is…
Sample letter to Parents and Teachers:
Dear Parents and Teachers of Cold Spring Elementary School: My daughter, Taylor, will be entering the first grade this fall. Some of you may already know Taylor but she will be a new face to many of you. Therefore, I wanted to briefly explain about a unique situation with Taylor. Taylor has a disease called Alopecia Areata. This disease is a highly unpredictable, non-contagious, autoimmune disease resulting in the loss of hair on the scalp and sometimes other areas of the body. Alopecia Areata is a common disease and affects over 4 million Americans. Unfortunately, there is no known cure for the disease. Taylor has received a variety of treatments in an attempt to re-grow her hair and we continue to pray for a cure for Alopecia Areata. Although Alopecia Areata is not medically disabling, it can be very challenging emotionally. Taylor has an uplifting personality and a tremendous inner strength that has helped her cope with the frustrations of her disease and losing all her hair. I am asking for your help in helping Taylor maintain her self-esteem and integrity in the school setting by preventing hurtful remarks and comments. By educating yourselves and the students at our school about Alopecia Areata, I am confident this will occur. I believe knowledge is power and if Taylor’s classmates are aware of her story (the little bald girl who sometimes wears a wig, sometimes wears hats or scarves and sometimes even goes bald!) they will be less likely to tease or say hurtful remarks. I appreciate your cooperation and understanding. Please do not hesitate to contact me with any questions or concerns. Or for more information please visit www.childrensalopeciaproject.org. Thank you, Mary Eck
Sample letter to Families:
Dear Families, We would like to take this opportunity to introduce ourselves to you and share with you some information about our son Jackson. Jackson has a condition called alopecia areata. Alopecia areata is an autoimmune condition that causes hair loss. You can’t “catch” alopecia: it is not contagious. When asked, we describe his condition as “being allergic to his hair,” which is a simplified, not a medically accurate, description. Currently, there is no effective treatment for alopecia areata. The course of alopecia is highly unpredictable; hair can spontaneously regrow even after years of extensive hair loss. It can (and often will) fall out again. There is no pain or discomfort with alopecia. Thankfully, Jackson has always been and continues to be very healthy. As a result of Jackson’s condition, we have become involved in the Children’s Alopecia Project (CAP). This organization provides information and support for families affected by this condition. In addition to this letter is a pamphlet provided by CAP, which offers information about alopecia. If you wish to obtain more information about alopecia or CAP, you can visit www.childrensalopeciaproject.org In a world where we are encouraged to accept all individuals regardless of the differences we hope that you have found this letter to be helpful in educating your children. We appreciate you taking the time to read our letter and hope that you will share this information with your family. We feel education is vital, especially for children, in understanding people’s differences. If you have any questions regarding Jackson’s condition or CAP, please feel free to let us know. Sincerely, Brad and Erin Burke
Reading to kids about alopecia areata is a great way to teach them about the disease and about simply being different. CAP recommends the following school-age books for children with alopecia, their siblings, friends, and classmates. The adult books are recommended for older children and adults living with alopecia as well as parents of young children with alopecia.
Featured Books ($1 goes to CAP) by the author and illustrator, Rosaria L. Calafati
Introducing Harrietta Hairison, The One, The Only Me by Jo Zumbrunnen (preschool and elementary)
Mookey the Monkey Gets Over Being Teased by Heather Lonczak (preschool and elementary)
MADDIE: Teaching Tolerance with a Smile by Sean O’Brien (preschool and elementary school)
Andi’s Choice by Ann Messner (middle school)
Because of Anya by Margaret Peterson Haddix (middle school)
A Closer Look by Karen DelleCava (young adult)