What you need to know
There is a wide degree of variability in cognitive and adaptive function in individuals with a mitochondrial disorder. Some individuals may have learning disabilities, attention deficit disorders, autism, and pervasive developmental delays (PDD). It is important to have high, but realistic expectations for each child. Because symptoms can vary on a daily basis for a child, is important to maintain constant and open lines of communication between home and school.
Fatigue is a major issue and it is important to be aware of the child’s energy level which will vary from day to day. School age children may seem to work in “spurts” and then become lethargic and find it hard to concentrate. Fatigue may lead to difficulty thinking, remembering, and moving.
Consider therapists and specialists to consult and support classroom teacher.
- Physical therapy
- Occupational therapy
- Speech therapy
What you can do
- Educational supports:
- Help with organization.
- Present information in concrete manner.
- Repetition will help children remember basic facts.
- Verbal explanations are often more effective than visual demonstrations, diagrams, and models.
- Provide information in brief, organized, and specific manner.
- Simplify information presented on worksheets.
- Tasks like copying letters and figures may take longer.
- Geometric designs may be difficult.
- Written homework may need to be modified.
- Consider having child work with an occupational therapist.
- A step-by-step approach is most effective.
- Pay attention to the student’s abilities.
- Remembering locations of objects in space may be challenging (i.e. number lines may be ineffective).
- Math fractions, geometric shapes, and formulas may be hard.
- Individuals may need help lining up numbers to do calculations.
- Poor executive function can lead to difficulties in calculations requiring more than one step.
- Word problems may be challenging.
- Speech and language:
- Ensure the child has a reliable way to communicate.
- Speech and language therapy and supports that are individualized to the child may be helpful.
- Physical Therapy:
- Develop gross motor abilities.
- Improve strength.
- Assess modifications and adaptive equipment for school and home.
- Muscle cramping and/or spasms can occur as it takes a lot of energy to write, stand in line, write on a chalkboard, and sit at a desk, etc.
- Occupational Therapy can help with:
- Fine motor
- Fatigue and temperature control:
- May need a modified school schedule or rest time/naps.
- May need to work at home.
- Extended school year may help prevent regression.
- Computers may help decrease small motor fatigue.
- Additional water and snack breaks are needed to remain hydrated.
- Need to have frequent monitoring of core body temperature, which tends to be lower than the average child.