Well, folks. The arrival of our third child means no more apartment, and we need to tell you that we have indeed moved. With a child having type 1 diabetes, not only do we need to worry about things like packing and unpacking boxes and all that kind of chaos, but we also have very important work to do with the schools before our children even show up for their very first day.
Our new school sounds like it will be pretty cool and has some features that will be awesome for James including a huge, wild, natural play space and smallish class size. But they're not used to working with kids with type 1. It's a bit of a shock, and I have to admit, it's kind of overwhelming to think of teaching and educating another whole set of school personnel.
But one thing we're really grateful for is the 504 Plan that we put into place when James started kindergarten. Thanks to some excellent advice from our doctors and some other parents who have "been there," we set up a meeting before the start of kindergarten to discuss James and his needs. Among other things, we included provisions to use the bathroom whenever he needed to, unlimited access to water, and testing in the classroom. We were happy to find that the school was completely on board with all of our requests. I have to say, I expected some push-back on certain items, but we were fortunate that our school administrators had extensive experience with kids with type 1 and saw the wisdom in the requests that we made. The 504 Plan was signed into existence on that very summer day, and we haven't really revisited the issue since.
We haven't needed to. James ended up leaving kindergarten to home-school for a few years (for reasons unrelated to diabetes) and when he returned this fall, the care he received from the school was so superior in every way that I frankly forgot that I even put that 504 into place. The nurse's aide in particular was so conscientious, and we have had absolutely no complaints.
It was with a heavy heart that we realized that we'd have to change schools due to our current move. Where will we find another school so willing to help James? It was then that I became SUPER grateful for that original 504 Plan that we set up so many years before and never again had to refer to. All of the things that we really care about -- that our current school will need to honor -- are set up in that document. We don't have to worry about fighting school administrators or district policy because James' care needs are already formalized in an official document. Hooray for 504 Plans!
That's why I now say that even with exceptional care at school (or perhaps especially with exceptional care), it's an excellent idea to get a 504 Plan. (Find expert info about working with your child's school to set one up here.) You just never know where you'll be and what kind of attitudes and educating you'll have to contend with. It's so much easier to have all of the care outlined clearly and concisely so that there is no interruption whatsoever to James' education.
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.