source: Muscular Dystrophy Association Inc.
SMA is a genetic disorder that involves the loss of muscle-controlling nerve cells, called motor neurons, in the spinal cord. The primary effect of SMA is on the muscles, which fail to receive the needed signals from the nerves. There are several different forms of SMA and thus, SMA can present in both genders and in childhood or adulthood dependent on which type of SMA a person has. Due to the progressive nature of this disease, and the fact that physical fatigue in people with SMA usually impacts them within the school environment, it is imperative that educational professionals who work with students with SMA be aware of their diagnosis, needs and abilities.
It is important that school health officials understand that this disease is not contagious, and does not make this student more of a health risk in school. Absences from school can accumulate, however, due to an increased risk of respiratory illness resulting from respiratory muscle weakness.