Wednesday, August 24, 2011

The Big Reveal

Today's the big reveal.
It seems absurd to suggest that idea but, I am anticipating an unveiling of a disposition. Today, I will meet the school principal, nurse, and counselor at our new school. We will discuss my son's food allergy and his asthma. I will discover their attitudes and desired approach.

I am hoping for the best. I am praying for the best.

The school nurse called me last week to request a 504 Plan meeting.

What is a 504 Plan?

The 504 Plan takes its name from Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. Section 504 is a civil rights law that prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability. It applies to all institutions, including public schools, which receive financial assistance from the federal government. The purpose of Section 504 as it relates to students with food allergies is to ensure that a child's education is not negatively affected by your child's food allergy.
Did you know that a severe food allergy, one that can lead to anaphylaxis, is considered a disability? Students are protected by a law so that they cannot be discriminated against on the basis of a severe food allergy or asthma (included under the "other health impairment" section). Interesting, isn't it?

My husband and I are well-informed about food allergies. And yet, we sat up last night researching 504 Plans, Emergency Care Plans, Individual Health Plans and Individual Education Plans (IEPs). The bottom line is: My son will be kept safe. Beyond that, we have to determine the reasonable provisions that need to be made for him.

Parents of food allergic kids take many approaches to protecting their kids. I've been amazed by the lack of provisions for some and surprised by the extremely strict rules for others. So many factors come into play: the severity of the food allergy (or the perceived severity), the allergist's approach to managing food allergies, and past allergic reactions and experiences.

When you consider the dissonance between adults managing food allergies (parents and doctors, alike) and the way food allergies are covered in the news, it is no wonder that the general public doesn't know what to think about food allergies.

So, the big reveal... What will the attitudes be? How will the medication be handled? What provisions will be put in place?

8 comments:

Linda said...

Jane Anne, I am praying for a great outcome from this meeting. I pray that they take David's allergy seriously and your ideas into consideration. I pray that David as well as all your children have a great ( safe) year at school.

Foursons said...

Oh how I hope this meeting goes perfectly for you today. Please update us when you can. I have a son w/an IEP so I know exactly what you are looking at.

Cinderella11pm said...

Does he carry an epi-pen with him just in case, Jane Anne?

I had to have one because my allergies were of unknown cause but all of a sudden I'd get all red and flushed and my throat would swell closed within a half hour - not fun.

Hope that they take this very seriously for your son at the meeting and make excellent provisions for watching over him to make sure he will stay safe.

And please God some other kid in the playground doesn't innocently give him a bit of his great snack to share that has the wrong thing in it.

Beth E. said...

I'm just now reading your post...how did it go today?

ChupieandJ'smama said...

Hope all went well!

Dana @ Epi-Essentials said...

The key is to be a partner and stay firm not only on safety, but equally important, on inclusion. Many teachers forget and use food to demonstrate or to reward, on top of the multitude of class and gen. school celebrations. Class & birthday parents may find it difficult to grasp safe treats (or alternatives to sweets) in the classroom. If a child is consistently excluded, the impact on self esteem over time can be devastating. Be prepared to partner with your child's teachers for creative alternatives. There truly are hundreds of options to make school a rewarding experience without the use of food.

Cinderella said...

How did it go?

Angie@Echoes of Laughter said...

I am curious to how this meeting went as well. My kids went to a Catholic school here in Alberta for 5 years. Our school had an "Allergy Committee" made up of parents and a few school staff. The purpose was to come up with strategies within the school to keep kids safe. Our school was peanut and nut free. The allergy committee made up posters boards for the school office with each child's picture and their allergy {or asthma} so that everyone could be aware. The supervisors on the playground also had index cards on a ring with each allergy child's picture and their allergies and particulars so that these children are protected by the knowlege of those around them. This strategy was developed by the Allergy Committee. They felt that knowledge and awareness was the best approach. My friend at this school has 2 boys who are allergic to nuts, tree nuts, dairy and eggs. Her littlest son was in my son's class. I make sure that when we had this child for a birthday party that everything on the menu were foods that he could eat. There were quite a few children at this school with severe food allergies as well as celiac disease. Interestingly, when my son changed to a sports academy school last year, there are no children with food allergies. I found this out when I inquired about restricted foods in school lunches and they told me that no foods were restricted because they had no students with allergies! I was really proud of the Catholic school for their approach to protecting these young children by empowering others with knowledge and awareness. Angie xo