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School probed for failing to help narcoleptic child

School probed for failing to help narcoleptic child

Published: 11 Dec 2012 15:03 GMT+01:00
Updated: 11 Dec 2012 15:03 GMT+01:00

Sweden's School Inspectorate (Skolinspektionen) has launched an investigation to determine whether a school failed to offer enough support for a boy suffering from chronic narcolepsy.

The boy, currently in the sixth grade at a Västervik school in southern Sweden, became narcoleptic after being injected with a swine flu vaccination in January 2010.

According to a complaint filed by the boy's family, his condition was bad from the beginning, resulting in him falling asleep in school and not having the energy to meet and play with friends.

His absences from school increased over the years.

“At a previous meeting it was proposed that he should go to school at a hospital...which feels ridiculous. This is a way for the school to push the problems away instead of taking care of them here and now," the family wrote to the Schools Inspectorate.

“Why should he become even more different and distant from his schoolmates????”

The boys’ parents reported the school in late November, stating that the school did not adequately support the child through his suffering, by, among other things, failing to facilitate the boy’s learning during his prolonged absences.

“This could have been avoided if the principal had followed the Education Act and put resources into directly helping him get the knowledge that he has the right to like all the others!” wrote the parents.

And after the boy missed as much as four weeks for school in a row, only being able to manage coming to school one day a week, the school simply stopped reporting his absences, much to the frustration of the parents.

“Looking back it feels really unpleasant, anything at all could have happened on the way and they would have thought he was at home,” the parents wrote in the report.

The Schools Inspectorate has now demanded that the school’s principal respond to the complaints as a part of the agency's investigation.

“We've received the report from the parents and now it's over to the principal to give documentation for what the school actually did for the child,” Nina Piroth, jurist at the Inspectorate in Linköping, told The Local.

“We will look at their documents and investigate whether the school has followed the Swedish school regulations or not.”

If the inspectorate deems the school has not made sufficient efforts with the boy, it will demand changes and follow up the case in due course. Piroth added that the school can even face fines if they do not take sufficient action.

Earlier this year, the Swedish government agreed to provide financial compensation for children suffering from narcolepsy after their own national research showed a link between the 2009-10 swine flu inoculations with the vaccine Pandemrix and the disease.

Around 60 percent of the Swedish population was vaccinated at the time, and as of June 2012, more than 220 people had been reported to have contracted narcolepsy nationally following the vaccination.

Narcolepsy is a neurological disease which strikes against the brain's regulation of sleep. A sufferer may be struck by sudden attacks of sleep, often several times per day. Other symptoms include general tiredness and some loss of motor control.

There is no cure for the disease, although symptoms can be treated with medication.

Oliver Gee

Follow Oliver on Twitter here

The Local (news@thelocal.se)

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