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    Interviewing Elementary schools - LONG!
    seeit2 posted:
    We are in Texas right now house-hunting and interviewing local schools to see how they handle the allergy thing. I've been emailing the head of health services for the district we are in and she put me in touch with the RN who covers the schools DD might attend. So I set up tours of each school with the principal and the RN and the school nurse, to get my questions answered and see how they really handle things. (There are only two that we are looking at, as we like two of the houses we've seen).

    My DD's biggest problem, outside of the allergy, is that she has a lot of social anxiety issues. I can't trust her to tell her teacher if she is feeling yucky or itchy - she is afraid to talk to adults she does not know really really well. WHich will make teaching her a real challenge. (She has a speech delay, and I think much of it grew from that). So I got to sit down with all of these people and talk to them about everything and find out how they would handle it, and so far I have to say I"m really impressed with one school in particular. The principal is awesome and the school has experience with peanut allergy - they have not had a milk allergy but at least have some clue about other kids with epi pens. They would not force DD to eat lunch alone but instead suggested she get to pick a buddy to eat lunch with every day, to join her at a separate table and eat "safe" food with her. I think that's as close to inclusion as we're going to get, and I think it's kinda sweet, assuming we can make her a friend or two before school starts. Really all they'd have to do it drink juice instead of milk and leave the cheese at home, and I think we'd be OK.

    The first school I walked into it was the middle of lunch and it was completely overwhelming. These are K-4 schools and they each have over 700 kids in them - they are HUGE. There is no way anyone could manage milk exposure in that kind of environment - especially with such a strong contact component. But apparently this school has an "allergy zone", which is a row of tables that the kids are not allowed to eat at, that are left covered when not in use and cleaned between periods. So that made me feel better. The kids snack in the classroom but I think we've managed that well in PreK so it should be doable in K as well as long as the teacher is willing to communicate. All in all they seemed to have as much of their stuff together as they possibly can, and they did not treat me like some over-reactive hover mom or anything, which was a pleasant surprise.

    Lily has an IEP for speech so we will meet to do her IEP meeting and then design a health plan for her right afterward, so everything they need to do to keep her safe can be documented and (hopefully) integrated into their day. It'll be crazy but I feel better about the whole situation than I ever have. My own anxiety level is through the roof about this thing but these people seem pretty confident that they can handle it.

    Another nice thing about the one school is that there is a separate cafeteria and auditorium instead of a "cafetorium" - this alone will really minimize DD's possible exposure. I've been losing sleep at night over "cafetoriums"...such a crazy life this is.

    Deb (40) DD (4) Funny, spirited, curious, has a severe milk allergy,  DS (1) fearless and bottomless, peanut allergy
    MrsWhiteCastle responded:
    It sounds like you have made a lot of progress so far on your trip.

    It's always nice to have options, but that does make the decision harder!

    I understand the stress that you are having, thinking about sending her off to Kindergarten. The stress will never go away completely, but it is SSSOOO much better once they are established in Kindergarten. Overall, Kindergarten is just so much easier than preschool, IMO. It's also nice to know that once you have her in school, you will be dealing with the same administrators, nurses, etc for the next few years.

    Please keep us updated on how it is going! And, try to have some fun! :)
    Emily (6 - allergic to tree nuts) Elizabeth (4)

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