Monday afternoon, I met with the school about the peanut incident from last week. This meeting also transformed into Mikey’s IEP review meeting. Good thing I brought along our BSC!
The principal called me in the morning to follow up and to let me know who would be present from the school: Mikey’s early intervention teacher, her boss, a family advocate, the occupational therapist, and Mikey’s classroom teacher. The principal herself would have attended, but she was meeting with the school board in the same time slot.
I was absolutely impressed and thrilled with the meeting, from start to finish.
We had gotten an email of the IEP (individualized education plan) over the weekend and read over it. Mikey has 2 goals outlined in the plan: to complete given tasks without additional prompting/pay attention to a task for up to 5 minutes, 80% of the time AND to interact appropriately with peers 3 out of 5 opportunities.
I felt pretty happy about the assessment of his progress, the action plans in place to keep progressing and I loved how the table asked our BSC for input. Last year, there was some sort of odd resistance to our BSC even coming into school to observe, which was troublesome but at the bottom of a very long list of “things” I had to deal with every day.
So it was great for the BSC to participate in the conversation, talk about strategies we use at home, and really map out a way to have continuity.
My favorite part of the meeting was when early intervention whipped out some data about Mikey’s behaviors at school, complete with comparisons to last year’s data. I had no idea this data existed! Nobody even mentioned it last year, let alone showed it to us.
Cody and I have bar graphs and plotted points on paper to show us how Mikey acts when the EI staff are observing/working with him. This feels amazing to me. Objective data! Someone who sees my son and helps me to interpret what she’s seeing!
Very quickly, we moved to discuss the peanut incident. I felt so happy with the collective sense of horror at what happened. One person at the meeting touched my hand and asked me whether I am ok, and it felt really fucking good to say, “Well, I sure wasn’t this weekend!”
I had printed a bulleted list of the things I would like to see in place at school to ensure Mikey’s safety. I spent the weekend talking to other allergy parents and reading, reading, reading the entire Internet. When I made the list I really tried to think about his safety, the medium-severity of his allergy, and the reality of the situation at a short-staffed school cafeteria with about 60 preschool kids eating lunch at the same time.
I was simultaneously happy and disappointed to learn there are actually federal guidelines in place (not local, not state…Federal!) for school cafeterias in regard to students with anaphylactic allergies. Disappointed because these measures should have been followed all along, but weren’t. Nearly every thing on my list is actually defined as a standard operating procedure for allergic kiddos.
Stuff like clean the lunch table/bench before Mikey’s class comes to sit there or ask classmates to wash hands before working with shared materials in the classroom. Make sure substitute teachers know about Mikey’s allergy. Make sure all his regular teachers know the location of his epi injector and have easy access to his emergency instructions from our pediatrician.
My action item from the meeting was to bring home more copies of the emergency action plan and medication paperwork I’d filled out at the beginning of the year. Of course, this time when I fill it out, I’ll be making digital copies so I don’t have to schlepp all over the place getting doctor notes if the forms should get misplaced again.
I feel really energized to see the school taking swift action to keep my son (and all the other allergic kids! Surely there are many more!) safe. I also got a follow-up call from the principal that she pulled another grownup from somewhere else in the building to add another set of eyes in the lunch room while the preschoolers are eating. Seems like everyone wins with more eyes in the lunch room.
While I was in the meeting, Mikey was in class sharing his copy of Allie the Allergic Elephant to help build awareness with the other students. He also took in his epi injector tester and demonstrated. Perhaps his classmates will be less likely to have their peanut butter sandwiches anywhere near Mikey’s lunch bag.
In the end, I’m glad there was a catalyst to increase attention to these sorts of medical issues at school. I’m more glad that Mikey was safe despite the rogue sandwich infiltration.