504 plan and Severe Food Allergies
My youngest son is about to start kindergarten. My husband and I have gone back and forth about this subject because of fears that our little one will have a reaction at school, and they will not be prepared. He has already gone into shock 2 times from dairy and it only takes about 5 minutes before his airway is closed up. Our home is so secure now, with not having dairy, eggs, and nuts…it makes it easy to control…but school is a different situation. “NO dairy, No egg, No nut” school? That’s not going to happen, and I don’t expect it to either. BUT, I do expect his teacher, nurse, assistants, subs, and other staff to be prepared. With the 504 plan, there is a legal requirement that they provide a safe environment for him while at school. Here’s some info I pulled from the web, which has been useful:
The 504 Plan
Section 504 provides that: "No otherwise qualified individual with handicaps in the United States . . . shall, solely by reason of her or his handicap, be excluded from the participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance...."www2.ed.gov
“Severe food allergies are one of the conditions that may fall under the Rehabilitation Act. Among the issues 504 Plans for students with severe food allergies may address are where life-saving anaphylaxis medications will be stored, where students will eat lunches and snacks, whether allergens will be permitted on the school campus, and if so, where, and how teachers, nurses, and other school personnel will be trained to recognize food allergy symptoms.” About.com
“The factors the school district considers in evaluating the student includes the severity of the condition and the student's ability to provide self-care. Thus, a kindergarten student with an anaphylactic peanut allergy who cannot yet read would almost certainly be considered eligible under the terms of the law; a high school student of normal intelligence with a milk allergy whose major symptom is rhinitis likely would not.” About.com
Does the ADA Apply to People with Asthma and Allergies?
“Yes. In both the ADA and Section 504, a person with a disability is described as someone who has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities, or is regarded as having such impairments. Breathing, eating, working and going to school are "major life activities." Asthma and allergies are still considered disabilities under the ADA, even if symptoms are controlled by medication. The ADA can help people with asthma and allergies obtain safer, healthier environments where they work, shop, eat and go to school. The ADA also affects employment policies. For example, a private preschool can not refuse to enroll children because giving medication to or adapting snacks for students with allergies requires special staff training or because insurance rates might go up. A firm can not refuse to hire an otherwise qualified person solely because of the potential time or insurance needs of a family member.” Aafa.org
“In public schools where policies and practices do not comply with Section 504, the ADA should stimulate significant changes. In contrast, the ADA will cause few changes in schools where students have reliable access to medication, options for physical education, and classrooms that are free of allergens and irritants. Under Section 504, public schools and programs cannot avoid their responsibility by claiming to have limited funds or resources. Nor can they impose a "disparate impact" on people with disabilities. The ADA requires public accommodations to make changes, except in cases where an "undue burden" would result.” Aafa.org
Plan Outline, where to begin
There’s a terrific website which has a plan outline. Check out: http://foodallergyadvocate.com/?p=112
It’s a ton of info, but worth it. I especially liked the Food Allergy Alert flyer, which should be sent home with every student in the class. I will be working on this for the next few months. I’m also hoping to get some other allergic children in my son’s class, so us moms can group up and help each other with the buddy-system.