By Lynn Bell, LCSW – July 30, 2019
If you are a parent of a child with a chronic medical condition such as diabetes, asthma, allergies, cystic fibrosis, epilepsy, etc., your child may require specialized accommodations at school. Your child’s needs may require individual arrangements for homework, tests, attendance, and medication dispensation.
There are important documents that will help protect your child and determine how these accommodations will be carried out. The sooner the documents are completed in the school year, the better.
The process starts by requesting a meeting in writing with the school counselor, principal or school nurse. It is best if the letter includes the date on which it is written, as this starts the “time clock” for when the school must work to ensure your child’s needs are being met.
The letter should include your child’s diagnosis and a list of your main concerns. Your child’s doctor or medical social worker can be a wonderful resource to help you write the letter. Reputable websites that focus on your child’s medical diagnosis can also be helpful, as they often include samples of letters and documents as a starting point.
A commonly used document is a 504 Plan of Care. A “504” is an outline for how the school will provide accommodations and supports to remove barriers so the student has equal access to a general education curriculum.
For example, for students with Type 1 diabetes, the plan will distinguish which school personnel are responsible for administering or supervising blood sugar checks, drawing and administering insulin, where these tasks will be completed (nurse’s office or classroom), what supplies the student will carry with them and who will be trained on how to administer medication in case of emergency.
As a parent, it is helpful to educate yourself about the documents best used with certain medical conditions. Two helpful resources are the ASK (About Special Kids) and Insource websites, both of which are based in Indiana and include a parent hotline:
As you develop a Plan of Care, the most important thing to remember throughout the entire process is that parents and school personnel must maintain open communication. Do not be afraid to ask questions or state your concerns.
It’s also important to monitor how well the Plan of Care is working throughout the school year and discuss whether changes need to occur.
You will always be the best advocate for your child as you work toward the best Plan of Care with the school.