Growth hormone deficiency (GHD) affects more than just your child’s stature. It can also mean that your child gets treated differently by teachers, peers, and other school staff.
Before your child starts school, it’s a good idea to meet with the staff to discuss what GHD is, and what your child’s peers and teachers should know about their condition.
1. Children with GHD should be treated according to their age, not their size
While your child may appear younger than children of the same age, mentally and emotionally, they aren’t any younger than their peers. This factor is often overlooked by adults when interacting with a child with GHD.
Teachers may inadvertently find themselves talking down to a child with GHD. Or they might expect the child to behave less maturely since they appear to be younger. In return, the child may reciprocate this behavior because they think that’s what is expected of them.
It’s important to reiterate to your child’s teachers that they should be spoken to and treated exactly like all of the other children in the classroom, regardless of their height.
2. Your child’s height doesn’t limit their ability to succeed
Children with GHD typically have a normal IQ and average intelligence. In terms of academic performance, children with GHD aren’t usually limited by their condition.
A 2000 study showed that adults with GHD or shorter-than-average stature have reduced employment opportunities. To help counter this, it’s essential that children with GHD aren’t discouraged or ignored just because they appear different. They should be given the same opportunities as every other student in the classroom.
3. Children with GHD have extra stress
GHD is relatively uncommon, so children with GHD can feel isolated from their peers. This can make school stressful and cause anxiety. Children with GHD may become withdrawn because they’re embarrassed by their size. Their size may also limit them from participating in certain athletic activities, which can make it harder to make friends.
Teachers and school staff should be aware of your child’s emotional vulnerabilities and consider ways to make the classroom environment more inclusive.
4. Bullying can be a huge problem for children with GHD
Children with GHD are also particularly vulnerable to teasing and bullying from classmates. This can be especially true during puberty because children with GHD often mature late. Girls may not develop breasts right away, and boys may not see their voice change along with their peers.
There are a number of things school staff can do to prevent bullying. Schools can incorporate the topic of bullying prevention in lessons and activities.
Teachers and school staff should also be trained to counteract teasing and know what to do if a child is being ostracized.
5. With treatment, your child will reach a normal adult height
Once treatment is started, your child will likely grow and reach a normal adult height. GHD isn’t common, so the staff at your child’s school might not even know this is possible.
Let your kid’s teachers know all about GHD treatment and how it works. This also ensures they’ll be better prepared to answer any questions other students or parents may ask about your child’s condition.
Meet with the teachers and other school staff at your child’s school to inform them about GHD. Doing so will help them understand your child’s abilities, and hopefully help to reduce any teasing among peers. Not only will this make your child more comfortable at school, but it will also help put your mind at ease knowing they’re in good hands.