What next? Maintaining friendships in the longer term
Any brain tumour diagnosis, high grade or low grade, can hugely impact a person. Children often have to deal with uncertainty for many years, especially around upcoming scans and results – will the tumour have come back or started to regrow? This can be emotionally draining for a child, with increased anxieties and potentially less tolerance. At these times, the child is likely to need more understanding and empathy from friends.
This is why supporting a child with their social relationships is likely to go beyond their initial return to school. So there’ll be points when it may be useful to re-visit the themes identified in this resource, e.g. during transition or if there are concerns about friendships.
Remember! We often hear from people affected by a low grade tumour that others expect everything to go back to ‘normal’ after treatment, but we know that this isn’t the case
Noah's Reception teacher handled his collapse and diagnosis really well and was key to educating the class of five and six-year -olds so that his friends understood what he had been through and the long lasting impacts of this.
Tips for continuing support
- Regularly check in with the child affected, and their siblings.
Follow up meetings, maybe once a term, would be good to chat to the child to see where they are and what more can be done. The child needs to own the situation, not feel like they’re having to do something.
- Keep an eye on how the child is getting on at school, through general observations and conversations with other school staff.
- Keep friends involved and feeling like they can help.
School was great with longer term support – they let us participate and help in my friend’s recovery. For example, allowing one person each time to go with my friend to the room where she got extra support, and we changed it every time, so that I guess a) my friend knew the whole class was there for her, and b) so that we all felt we were there and to be a part of it.
- Keep in contact with parents and keep a record of upcoming dates, e.g. hospital appointments, upcoming scans which may cause ‘scanxiety’. Scanxiety is a fear or anxiety about MRI or CT scans and their results. It’s commonly felt by those affected by a brain tumour. Scanxiety will look and feel different in every child, so ways of supporting them will vary.
- Make sure you prepare the child and teaching staff prior to transition times. This may be between classes, year groups or even schools. Keep a record of all the work you’ve done with the child around telling their story, as this can help to support the child when preparing for a transition.
Communication with future schools and creating links for visits prior to joining will be key. This would include a list of who to contact for help.
Please do remember, if you need anything at all, our Children and Families team is here to listen, support and answer any questions you may have. You can contact us on 0808 800 0004 5000 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org