Hello, my name is Olivia I am 15 years old and I have a rare painful chronic illness. As someone who has experience of living with a chronic illness, I am going to be talking about my journey in school. This is so important to me because more awareness needs to be made especially within schools.

Teachers and children need to know that you don’t have to look unwell to be unwell and to not pass unkind comments like “Olivia when are you not going to have any more hospital appointments and not have to leave school early” because in my case this will be the reality for the rest of my life. 😕 

What do you wish other people knew about going to school with a chronic illness? 🤔 

I wish other pupils and teachers knew that my pain can vary. Some days I can be in little pain and other days my pain can be extremely sore. 

 What made school that little bit easier with a chronic illness? 

  • Having a pass to go to classes five minutes early before everyone else so I could walk to my next class at my own pace.  
  • Having a go-to teacher that I could go to about anything. She knew and understood my chronic illness. She also knew that I would be off for hospital appointments. She made sure I was okay and helped me to catch up on any work I had missed so I could still reach my full potential. ❤️ 

What advice would you give to other children with chronic illnesses that might be having a hard time in school? 

  •  Try your best to have a positive mindset in school and ask for help if you need it. 
  • Getting support for exams e.g. extra time, alternative accommodation and ICT.  
  • Support from school staff and pupils so you can still reach your full potential even if you are sometimes off school for hospital appointment and admissions.  

Is there anything you would want to tell your past self in relation to school? 

Listen to your body and take time out if you need to. 

One thing I found helped a lot with calming myself is a sensory grounding activity. If you find school stressful and overwhelming, then it might help you too … 

Grounding Technique for if you are feeling overwhelmed 

How it Helps: This technique will help you to focus on the present when you are feeling stressed or anxious. Helping to ease your state of mind.  

Getting Started:  Find a space you are comfortable in and take some deep breaths. 


  1. Start by taking some deep breaths.  
  2. Look around you, acknowledge 5 things you can see, and say them out loud.  
  3. Notice 4 things you can touch. This could be your hair, clothes, or the floor under your feet. Again say them out loud.  
  4. Listen to your surroundings. Say out loud 3 things you can hear. 
  5. Say 2 things you can smell. This could be the perfume you are wearing or the food you have cooked for lunch.  
  6. Finally, say 1 thing you can taste. It could be your toothpaste or chewing gum.  
  7. To finish off take a few more deep breaths.