Being a Special Education teacher for ten years and in the field for twelve years, I know the importance of accommodations based on students’ Individualized Education Programs (IEPs). Because of TJ’s multiple food allergies with his risk for a severe, potentially life-threatening allergic reaction, anaphylaxis, his safety and well-being does require several accommodations. If TJ was older and attending a school that receives federal funding, he would qualify for a 504 plan. Here is a great resource about these plans.
Because a written plan like this is not available for TJ at his day care, we met and are continuing to discuss the best plan to ensure TJ’s safety. After working with TJ’s daycare to devise a plan according to his Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis Emergency Care Plan, several accommodations have been made. We were informed that his classroom will be a top-priority allergy room for the year and every year moving forward.
- TJ will have his own high chair for meals and snacks. They will control everything that TJ eats in the high chair and reduce the risk of cross-contamination by having one aide help in feeding him.
- As mealtime is ending, they will keep TJ in his high chair until everyone else is washed and put onto nap cots. Then, they will clean the classroom tables before TJ gets down.
- In the future as TJ becomes older and a high chair is not applicable anymore, we will provide disposable place mats for TJ to use at a table that is separate for the ones with his allergies.
- These disposable place mats will be used for any activities he may use the classroom tables for.
- We asked TJ’s Auvi-Q to be stored by him and offered to buy a storage box for it. Due to the facility’s emergency procedure and plan, all medications including Epi-pens/Auvi-Qs are stored in the office which is two doors down and less than 150 feet away. After speaking with our allergist about this, we have decided that keeping this procedure and location in place is the best option for TJ’s safety.
- Art Supplies: Since TJ is currently allergic to wheat according to his blood level results, he needs to avoid art supplies that contain wheat. While it is very unlikely they would cause an anaphylactic reaction, they would likely cause a skin irritation/reaction of some sort. Therefore, before they participate in activities like Play Dough, we will be contacted. Then, we have offered to purchase the allergen-free versions to replace them so that all students can use the same materials and isolation does not become an issue.
- TJ will only use cleaning materials and products given by us.
- TJ will be closely monitored and daycare will communicate more often with us.
- As a back-up plan, in case needed, I have lunch during TJ’s lunch this year and they will contact if they need me to come assist.
- TJ’s classroom is tree nut and peanut free. (All students’ lunch and snack labels and containers will be checked each morning to ensure that this is indeed the case.)
PROCEDURES AND POLICIES ALREADY SET IN PLACE THAT HELP US
- A new strict allergen policy that relates to food ingestion and potential food exposure/cross contamination issues inside each classroom
- No sharing utensils or food policy
- Constant hand washing/face washing
- Disinfecting surfaces
- Every employee is trained in administering an Epi-pen.
SOMETHING THAT WE CAN’T CHANGE BUT WITH THE GUIDANCE OF OUR ALLERGIST AND GOD, I AM TRUSTING TJ WILL BE TOTALLY FINE WITH
- TJ will need the actual flu shot despite his egg allergy since he cannot receive the thymerisol-free/egg-free version of the flu shot. This version is not FDA approved for people under 18 years of age. We asked our allergist today when TJ went to get his MMR shot there. (Ahhhh I hate shots and especially more now that some contain components that he is allergic to That’s a whole other topic though.) Therefore, we will need to have TJ given the flu shot at the allergist’s office this year.
Sure, I am still over here “plotting” more and more ways to ensure TJ’s utmost safety but isn’t that what parents do? I do not expect everyone to understand our situation, decisions, and the extent to which we would and do go, like we did in this situation. However, I do expect others to respect it. With that being said, we are blessed with the support of so many individuals like TJ’s daycare staff who not only respect us, but also clearly care for him. Therefore, we continue to smile on into the weekend …