Monday, May 10, 2010

First 504 Plan meeting

Today Dave and I went to the public elementary school Ainsley is set to attend in August to meet with the staff about formulating a Section 504 plan that will list the specific accommodations the school will make for her food allergies. I was not that nervous about the meeting because the school has already made accommodations for a severely peanut-allergic first grader and I have already talked with his mom several times and Dave and I had agreed that almost all of those accommodations would work for Ainsley.

We met with the nurse, counselor, principal, and the teacher who had the peanut-allergic child in her class last year, and who will be Ainsley's teacher this coming year (it is great to know in advance who her teacher will be). They were all very nice and wanted to know all about Ainsley - what her personality was like, where she had any other issues (allowing me to tell them she was in occupational therapy for slight motor skills delays), and how we first learned about Ainsley's food allergies.

We then talked about the accommodations the school is currently making for the peanut-allergic first grader. I told them that I wanted all of the same ones implemented for Ainsley except that I wanted to discuss "the peanut-free table issue." Currently, the school has a peanut-free table that the first-grader sits at. He can have a couple of friends sit with him if the teacher checks their lunch and determines that it's peanut-free. I was worried about that because Ainsley is a very shy kid and it's hard for her to warm up to other children. I felt that any social isolation like that would be detrimental to her developing social skills.

Prior to the meeting, I expressed my concerns to family and friends knowledgeable of school procedures (I am lucky that my sister-in-law is an elementary school counselor in the same district and that my mother-in-law is a retired third grade teacher) and came up with an alternative that I felt good about: having Ainsley sit at the same table as the other kids but in a designated spot at the end of a row. The cafeteria staff will clean off her spot before she sits down (this will be easy in kindergarten because the tables will have all been cleaned before they sit down) and her teacher will check the lunches of the two kids who sit closest to her to ensure they don't have any peanut/treenut products.

Everyone in the room this morning seemed happy with this plan. I am sure that, in practice, there will be hiccups. I guess I am comfortable with it because Ainsley's been eating at the same table as her preschool classmates for the last three years and she has never had an allergic reaction because of it. Of course, her preschool is peanut and treenut-free, but she's still been surrounded by kids eating dairy and egg products and hasn't had a problem. Because of this experience I have determined that she seems far more likely to have an allergic reaction if she accidentally ingests a food she thinks is safe rather than if her skin comes into contact with residue of an offending food. Therefore, my highest priority is making sure no one gives her a food to eat that isn't safe - I am less concerned about residue issues.

Thoughts? Ideas? Once I receive a written copy of the 504 plan I will post it here. I am still in shock that my baby is old enough to be getting ready for kindergarten!


Anonymous said...

Best of luck with kindergarten. If your daughter understands her allergies and knows not to take anything, unless it's from you, that will be great. If you are concerned about others giving her food, then you can have that put into the 504 plan. Just state, she can't share snacks with others, or have outside food.

I have a 1st grade daughter with peanut and treenut allergies (school is nut free). I have requested, one day advance notice of parties, events, so I can prepare something to bring. Also, my daughter keeps a bag in the class with safe treats that she can have just in case.

You may also want to put something in there about field trips. You may want to request, that you can always go. If not, who will be responsible for bringing her medicine and keeping her safe.

Also, if your daughter still needs the OT, they can provide that service at school. Just ask for an evaluation.

Make sure you take copies of the plan with you on the first day of school just in case the teacher doesn't have her copy yet.

I also prepared a memo that I give to school personnel that outlines her allergies and restrictions. I ask the teacher to share that with the science teachers, art, music and anyone else that has contact but wouldn't get a copy of the 504.

Remember that the 504 is a "live" document. It can always be changed or amended. So after you get your copy, if you think of something else that you want included, let the school know.

Also, do you have the food allergy action plan. I get one signed by the dr before each school year. It basically gives permission to the school to administer medication if need be. I think I got it from the faan website.


Anonymous said...

When my daughter Elizabeth(treenut/peanut/seed allergy) started 1st grd (no lunch w/half day K), her teacher asked me if she could educate the students about her allergy. Our school already had a no sharing food policy, but this was good because her classmates would, and still do, watch out for her. We chose to have a peanut/nut free table and it has worked out beautifully (but Elizabeth already had friends from K). When it comes to class parties, our school dist. doesn't allow homemade items to be brought in, so between that and advising parents of her allergy, the food has always been safe for her. I hope everything goes well for your daughter, and I'm glad I came across your site. Good luck.


Anonymous said...

Thanks for the post. My son Braeden starts Kindergarten this year and he has severe peanut and tree nut allergies along with asthma. I too didnt like the idea of him sitting alone at a peanut free table. But our school luch room just went peanut free so braeden can sit with kids who buy thier lunch. The ones who pack can bring in anything they like so there will be tables for kids who pack and other tables for kids who buy.

Anonymous said...

I would check with your school to see if there is any time that your child's school has any type of cooking activity. For instance, the elementary school that I used to teach at had a unit where the kindergarteners made gingerbread cookies to go with a certain unit. I currently have some preK students with a lot of allergies and one of the parents brought in something (I think from the Food Allergy network website?) that gave different ways to substitute things for eggs. It also gave a lot of words to watch out for labels other than just milk that I didn't know were milk products like caseinate. The information was not only helpful for cooking lessons but also to read over all ingredients in snacks and birthday treats. As far as allergies go, I feel that there is no such thing as too much information.

Anonymous said...

I am having a mtg with my son's school to discuss a 504 plan. Would you care to send me a copy of the accommodations you requested for your child. I am flying blind on this and my son's school has been hesitant to make any changes.


If you would also please delete my post after you read it so my e-mail address is not out there for everyone to see :-)