Well yesterday was the meet and greet/ orientation for Kindergarten. All I can say is wow. Sometimes all of the preparation in the world is not enough and you get caught off-guard. I'm very excited about being in this new school and having the kids on a year round schedule but apparently they had not received our records from the traditional school and had no idea about Izzy's allergies and as her teacher said to me, "I have no idea what celiacs is, I look forward to reading your letter". My scariest moment was talking with the school nurse about lunchtime and listening to her say she could eat with everyone else. But do not be discouraged. Remember that you are your child's advocate and because things did not go as planned does not mean that they are not going to work the way they should. I sent the school nurse and teacher an email with my letter attached and received great feedback same day. They have already started the process of IHP with her doctors and are looking into a 504 plan for her in the future.
IHP- Individualized Healthcare Plan is a plan put in place between the doctors, educators, parents and the school nurse to ensure your child is in a safe environment. An IHP will detail what measures the school team will take to reduce the risk of allergen exposure, recognize symptoms of an allergic reaction and how to treat symptoms of exposure (Izzy reacts differently than an anaphylactic child but it will be recognizable just the same) . For instance, Isabelle will eat at the "allergy table" at lunchtime so that she will limit her exposure to gluten. She will also have a designated area of the classroom where she will be able to play without worry of playdough or some other form of gluten coming into contact with her.
504 Plans are a little more extensive. It gets its name from the 504 section of the ADAA regarding disabilities. It's purpose is very similar to an IHP but can allow for things such as extended absences due to a gluten exposure. It also would benefit her if her auto immune symptoms worsen in the coming years for other accommodations that I don't expect we will need but are there as a safety net if they are.
No matter which plan is instituted, make sure all of your concerns are in writing. It is so important for the school staff to understand their role in keeping your child safe. Make sure the plan addresses key issues that require attention in the classroom (like Izzy needing a playdough/food free zone to play) as well as other areas (like the lunchroom).
Stay excited, prepare your child like I said earlier in the week, make the new line of communication in a new school a positive one. Izzy already feels comfortable knowing I've spoken to the teacher and the school nurse and is excited to go to school on her first day. School is supposed to be the most amazing experience and journey, allow that.
On our celiac journey I also wanted to note that there are some key things your immunologist/doctor should be looking at, that I was unaware of. So, whether you are gluten sensitive and/or have celiacs or are just on a strict g-free diet your doctor should be testing some levels regularly. Iron, Niacin, Vitamin A, Vitamin E and Vitamin D (We got plenty of Vitamin D this summer in FL;)). I don't like my sweet girl getting stuck but it's important with most celiacs absorption not at a level it should be.