Prepare for School with a Food Allergy

It’s time to prepare for school with a food allergy and you may feel overwhelmed. When my son was ready for kindergarten, I remember the January prior to his entry was the month that I began conversations with my school on food allergy accommodations. With each new year, it causes me to think about how I can help families just like you prepare for the great meeting of the minds. I decided to do this series of posts: Prepare for School with a Food Allergy, Part 1, Food Allergy School and What Not To Do, Part 2 and What To Do When Your 504 Plan Is Violated, Part 3. I hope you find them to be helpful as you start a new chapter with your child.

10 Steps to Prepare for School with a Food Allergy

1.  Investigate and Learn About Food Allergy Rights and Guidelines

prepare for school with a food allergy by doing your research

Do your research!

Get to know the existing resources that are out there to support you:

 

2.  It Takes Nine Months to Have a Baby; Take Nine Months to Forge a Food Allergy Partnership with Your School

To prepare for school with a food allergy, reach out the January prior to when your child will start school. Contact your school principal and district/school nurse/health paraprofessional to introduce yourself and your child. Make it a priority to discuss what school staff members will assist in the development of your child’s Food Allergy Management Plan. Collaborate with staff to finalize the plan prior to the first day of school.

  • Typical 504 Team, i.e.: Principal, District and/or School Nurses, 504 Coordinator, Teacher, Specialists, Cafeteria and Recess Monitors, Transportation Company, etc. The titles of individuals will vary from district to district and school to school.
    • If your school is public, request a 504 Evaluation Meeting.
    • If your school is private, determine if the school receives any federal funding. If yes, then request a 504 Evaluation Meeting.
    • If your school is private and receives no Federal funding, then request a Food Allergy Management meeting so accommodations can be determined.

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What Kind of Advocate Are You?

I’ve been a Mom to a multiple food allergic child for seven years. Obviously, I’ve thought and observed much about our relationship to food and how others react to food allergies. My son’s allergies have brought clarity to my life. I’ve had the opportunity to do much self-examination to determine what kind of Partner I want to be in creating as normal of a life as possible for my son.

I know the word advocate is used a lot in many different arenas. While I surely can identify myself as an advocate, I much prefer the term Partner. I forge partnerships with people and collaborate to ensure a positive outcome, first and foremost for my son, but also for my stress levels as well.

Advocating doesn’t mean that taking an aggressive approach is the only means to an end. It’s our choice to engage in unfriendliness or diplomatically distance ourselves and move on to find those with likeminded integrity, making a situation be best for all.

It’s easier to be mad, hostile and judgmental. It requires more thought to see life from both sides of the coin and come to the center.

It’s our challenge to determine how to help others adopt a Partner philosophy. As difficult as it may be, leading by example is the best way I know how.

With the upcoming school year drawing near, I encourage each of us to become a Partner, a collaborator with others. We’re all reaching for a common goal, safety of children and a happy school year.

~ Kristin