Recently, we just got our 504 Plan put into place. (For the unfamiliar, a 504 Plan is an official document that provides your child with special care and accommodations to minimize the impact that his or her medical condition might have on his or her public education.)
The official 504 document is not a requirement for a child to get care in school. It’s an option, but many families may find that their school experience goes just fine without it, which is how it went for us. As Kaitlyn started kindergarten, we quickly realized that we had landed in an ideal situation. All of the teachers, nurses, and administration were really happy to help Kaitlyn; and we have had very few disagreements on how she should be cared for.
When the principal approached us this year and suggested we go ahead and get a 504 set up, I was happy to oblige. Although things have always gone well, I wanted to do everything in my power to help things continue that way. I especially think it will be useful to have clear guidelines established when Kaitlyn goes into middle school, since she’ll have many more teachers and staff taking part in her education.
If you’re in the process of putting together a 504 Plan, I thought it might be helpful to hear some suggestions of what kind of requests you can make of the teachers, nurses and staff. I feel like our initial meeting to set up the 504 went really well, partly because I knew what I wanted before I went in. I had a lot of help, especially from my sister-in-law, Jen, who had a lot of great ideas from her experience attending these meetings previously. I used some of her ideas, some from other friends, and incorporated them with my own ideas.
Here are some of the topics we discussed in our meeting:
1. Blood Sugar Checks and Insulin Dosing. We discussed when, where, and how Kaitlyn’s blood sugar would be checked and how her insulin would be given. For us, it works well for Kaitlyn to walk to the health office a few minutes before recess and lunchtime to do it there. She also gets checked before she has P.E.
2. Communication. The nurse keeps a daily log of Kaitlyn’s numbers and bolus amounts. She keeps this in a notebook that we keep in Kaitlyn’s lunchbox. The nurse also communicates with us via text and phone if any problems or questions arise.
3. Field Trips. Kaitlyn is always allowed to go on field trips; and a nurse will attend with her if I am unable to attend.
4. Siblings in the Classroom. If I come to the school to help Kaitlyn participate in any classroom parties, I am allowed to bring my younger children so I don’t have to get a babysitter each time I need to come.
5. Classwork. Kaitlyn will not be penalized for any missed work due to anything related to her diabetes care; and she will be allowed to make it up if necessary.
6. Leaving the Classroom. Kaitlyn is allowed to leave the classroom to go to the bathroom, get drinks, or go to the health office at any time.
7. Electronic Devices and Supplies. Kaitlyn is allowed to have with her any devices to help with diabetes care, including her pump, glucose meter, continuous glucose monitor, and eventually a cell phone. She is also allowed to have low blood sugar supplies including snacks, juice, and candy. She is allowed to use these anytime she needs to.
With this list, it’s like Kaitlyn’s accommodations have been written into the school’s official rules and policies. It gives me a much-needed bolus of peace of mind!
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.