When you have a child with type 1 diabetes, you become accustomed to a certain level of ignorance in the general population. I think you also begin to think that most people choose not to understand diabetes or balk a bit at the extra effort required to take care of our kids with type 1. I brought these thoughts and this attitude with me to my first 504 Plan meeting with school professionals. It was not a good experience for me or them. Luckily, I was able to have a second and MUCH more positive experience the second time around. I think I had truly found a better way.
After getting a medical management plan from our doctor and before my first school meeting, I searched all over the Internet to decide what kinds of things needed to be included in James' 504 Plan. I came to the meeting for James' junior kindergarten year with a list of what every staff member needed to do to keep James safe. I had a list for the teacher, the nurse, the nurse's aide, the back-up office staff. Each list was rather long, and although the tasks weren't complicated, it must have been daunting to see 11 additional responsibilities for a kindergarten teacher! Although I was only being protective of James' interests, it isn't any wonder that a room full of education professionals balked a bit at being told exactly how to do their job.
The second time around, this time for "real" kindergarten, I decided to do things a little differently. Prior to our meeting for the 504, I wrote an e-mail to the principal outlining my objectives for James' safety. It listed things like "have someone available at all times to be able to test his blood sugar" and "have a staff member trained to administer insulin for snacks and blood sugar corrections." My aims were specific, but how they were to be carried out, or by whom, wasn't addressed at all. I simply said, "I trust that you will be able to figure out a way among your staff members that will help us meet these needs."
When I arrived at the 504 meeting later that summer, I was so pleased to have a room full of people who had read my objectives. As professionals, they recognized that the goals presented were logical and necessary for James' safety. The principal used my list, and the various team members present in the meeting were able to craft a plan that worked best for them to help fulfill each and every requirement. It was incredibly satisfying to see that each task to keep James safe was taken care of by the staff member who could most easily and conveniently meet that need. I'm happy to report that James was very safe and secure at that school, and we had no problems with the school fulfilling its obligations!
About the author: My name is Jennifer, and I live in Southern California with my husband, Craig, and our three boys. Our oldest son James has been diagnosed with type 1 diabetes. I’m thankful for this opportunity -- along with my sister-in-law Kim and her daughter Kaitlyn, who also has type 1 diabetes -- to share our struggles and triumphs with our friends in the diabetes community.
Disclaimer: The experiences and suggestions recounted in these articles are not intended as medical advice, and they are not necessarily the "typical" experiences of families with a child who has type 1 diabetes. These situations are unique to the families depicted. Families should check with their healthcare professionals regarding the treatment of type 1 diabetes and the frequency of blood glucose monitoring. Jen and Kim are real moms of kids with type 1 diabetes and have been compensated for their contributions to this site.
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