Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Sending Charlie to School - Seeking Advice

On Thursday we will meet with the school's guidance counselor and principal to discuss Charlie, who will be entering kindergarten in the fall and leaving our sight for the first time.

This is just the initial meeting. In phone conversations with my wife, the guidance counselor admits they're a bit scared. They've had a couple of kids with diabetes in the past but never as young as Charlie.

We plan to come to this meeting armed with a 504 plan and will basically just explain to them how we expect them to care for him while he's in school.

Obviously this is very new to us. If anyone has any advice for this initial meeting, I would greatly appreciate it. Are there questions we absolutely should be asking? Demands we should be making? As part of the 504 plan, is it alright to insist that "mother will have full access to school grounds where she will sit perched in cherry tree outside Charlie's classroom with binoculars for duration of school day."

I've certainly read some of your horror stories on the topic and that makes me uneasy. But, for now, we're not there yet. They just want to know all there is to know about Charlie.


At 10:22 AM, Blogger Penny said...

Well, you read my post about meeting with Riley's teacher. But, since Riley is in private school I can't give any advice on 504s.

I'm looking forward to hearing how things go. I've got my fingers crossed for you. Hopefully everyone will be very accomadating.

At 10:49 AM, Blogger Vivian said...

Personally, I think if they are a bit scared it is a good thing. This probably means they will look to you for guidance and they will handle him with care.
Will he be there full day or half day? Absolutely have the 504 plan in place but also make sure there is a Individual Health Plan (IHP) in place. An IHP is really just written instructions that everyone can understand on how to deal with situations for Charlie. Each kid has different reactions to things like exercise and stress, or lows and highs. This plan spells out how YOU want them to handle things. The IHP is great to make sure a copy is given to each person he will be cared for by, such as teacher, substitute teachers, gym, music, etc. It is also a good idea to have a picture of Charlie attached to it so there is no question as to which kid they are dealing with. I usually attach a pic and make copies so you don't need tons of pics. =) You will also need a school form from his endo that really just says yes he has type 1 and these are his ratios and this is when you need to call the parents. As for consent for your wife to sit in the tree with binoculars, absolutely, demand it. lol I hope this helps.

At 11:15 AM, Blogger Shannon said...

In addition to what Vivian said:

First and foremost since the guidance counselor admits that they're scared, find out what their concerns are and address them.
You'll want to make sure they're not resistant to any care Charlie needs in any way, shape, or form.

Once you make them feel at ease, they'll be more comfortable with taking care of Charlie and more open to suggestions on how to do so.

Ask how they handle school field trips. Ask if the nurse will come and if a substitute nurse fills in at the school. If not, tell them that either you or your wife must be at the top of the list to be a chaperone for the trip. Under no circumstances should he ever be excluded from trips or even in-school functions and parties.

That's all I can think of off the top of my head.

At 11:57 AM, Blogger Carey said...

You guys rock! Thanks so much.

At 12:20 PM, Blogger Kerri. said...


I sent your post to my mother. She's pissed because she can't access the blogs from her office (damn corporate crackdown!) but she sent her comments back to me:

1. Parent(s) with Charlie’s help should give a talk to his class about diabetes. His classmates should be told what a low is and how Charlie may act. Stress, of course, that Charlie is a normal kid who just happens to have diabetes.

2. Make sure someone always accompanies Charlie to the nurse’s office when he is low.

3. Allow for testing in his classroom if Charlie is doing this.

4. Parents need easy access to their child at all times during the school day without a hassle.

5. Food kept in Charlie’s classroom for treating lows immediately.

6. Teacher should be provided with literature on children with diabetes and asked to review and provide parents with any questions she may have. Anyone who will be dealing with Charlie must be educated in diabetes care. Everyone.

7. Also, this literature should be made available to a substitute teacher if his regular teacher is out.

8. Parents should note that they don’t want Charlie to be singled out and treated differently. Take care of his needs with as little fanfare as possible. This will help lessen the “teacher’s pet” syndrome.

9. Is there a fulltime school nurse on the premises at all times?

10. Parents are allowed to call into the school to check on Charlie’s well being if it makes them feel better!!!! (once a day for awhile until they get used to Charlie not being in their constant care).

Those are the bullet points from my mom, harkening back to when I was in school. I hope it helps!

At 12:41 PM, Blogger Carey said...


Extremely helpful. Please give your mom a big "thank you" for me. And thank you for sending along to her. The more we know, the better off Charlie will be.

At 4:26 PM, Blogger Major Bedhead said...

Kerri's mother said everything I can think of, except this: It may sound stupid now, but if you can drill it into their heads that you prefer that no candy is handed out in the classroom as a reward, it will go a long way to relieving annoyances down the road. O is still getting candy as a reward and she's in 6th grade (for one more week). You'd think, with all the talk of obesity and the removal of soda machines from school grounds, the teachers would hand out something useful as a reward. Like maybe a PENCIL??

At 8:20 PM, Blogger Chris said...

We ironically had our URIS meeting today with the staff of Emma's new daycare. She will be starting in July.
These URIS, 504 plans are great. It is essential to have these plans in place. And it is another thing to have them implimented. And done so properly and with care.
So my only advice to you is stressing to the board or whomever you are meeting with by showing how much love you have for your boy.
Tonite i interjected quite a bit talkng to the 9 women in the room (usually i do the movin' not the talking when women are in the room but that is a different comment all together)trying to get them to see the light on how they must embrace this as if it was thier own child. And yes it can be deadly and complicated if ignored. I know these women do not get wealthy off of being day care workers so i am sure they can be lacadasical at times. I was trying to make sure they know we will be watching them ...like...umm....in a cherry tree?!
Anyway i probably didnt say anything you didnt know already and i am just assuming a 504 plan is like a diabetes plan and not a retirement plan or something like that 401k thing you guys have there.
Take care.
Good luck i will be thinking about you guys tomorrow!

At 7:34 AM, Blogger anonlurkermom said...

A couple of things from my experience:
1. Be sure to stress that Charlie didn't do anything to "get" diabetes and that it is not contagious. Even kids as old as middle school think they can catch it.
2. For each new class year, I speak up at the open house to alert parents that some questions may come their way. Some cool things come from this such as the mom who approached me after the fourth grade meeting and flashed her pump. She was dx'd at 8 and is now a healthy 40 something!
3. Don't assume the nurses know anything. After a bad incident in May this year, I went to school to check my dd's insulin supply and found it had never been refrigerated since September despite the "keep refrigerated" in sharpie on the box.
4. I developed a "Important Information about _________" fact sheet that I supply to anyone who will be supervising my daughter without my presence. It begins daughter's name is under your care and supervision and has Type 1 diabetes.
As a final note I'd like to thank all the pioneers (like Kerri's mom) who began educating educators and paved the way to having our kids have a normal school experience.
Good luck.

At 8:38 AM, Blogger Carey said...

Thanks Julia. Good point.

Chris, Thank you. Hope your meeting went well. Sounds like it did.

Anonlurkermom, Very helpful advice. And yes, we owe a lot to those who have paved the way. The resources out there like sample 504s, sample letters to parents of classmates, information for teachers, principals, etc. is amazing. I just keep printing more and more documents.


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