I had a second meeting with the staff at our public Pre-K school about a month ago. I met with the principal, the school nurse, the current 2 pre-K teachers, the kitchen manager, the head of the districts food service, and the guidance counselor. As I have mentioned my biggest concerns are the meals in the classroom, and the food in the curriculum. We discussed both of these issues at length.
The issue being that as a Federally funded program, the Pre-K is required to offer meals to the classes. So, breakfast to the morning, and lunch to the afternoon classes; average of 15 children per class- and a total of 30 4-year-olds eating every food Jacob is severely allergic to. The teachers asked what Jacob would do when the other children were eating, and I explained that I can send him to school with safe ‘snacks’ he could have at those times. I could almost feel the kitchen staff issue a sigh of relief when I explained that any food he would eat I would send in for him- essentially letting them entirely off the hook and out of the conversation -aside from the issue of feeding all the other children. It was agreed that although they were not sure how it would be solved, that the classroom Jacob was in would not have food served in it. They will establish a food-free classroom and curriculum for the room he will be in. The public school will also assign an aide to be with Jacob through-out the day to ensure his safety. This person will have training for food allergies, anaphylaxis and how to use an epi device. Should this assistant be absent, the regular pre-K teacher would work as Jacob’s aide, and a substitute teacher will take over the classroom instruction. We will be setting up a 504 plan for Jacob as well. I have yet to decide about whether or not I will let him ride the bus, drive him to school, or some combination of both. I was also questioned at length about Jacob’s g-tube and feedings. However since he will only be in school a few hours per day I will just time his feedings around his school schedule. I do realize I will need a better plan for Kindergarten which is a full day at school- but I will tackle that next spring! 😉
Jacob went in for his Pre-K screening a few weeks ago. He did well, although the Child Development Service [CDS] workers felt that he could benefit from some speech therapy. I have been told he should have it since he was about 18 months old; because he was so speech delayed. There are studies that children with many allergies are often speech delayed because of the combination of not hearing sounds and consonants correctly due to congestion; open mouth breathing due to congestion also leading to soft palate formation delays. I am not sure how much these things affected him, or how much was just that he was just sick, and had a near death hospitalization, multiple surgeries, complications and everything for the first 2-1/2 years of his life. Honestly, I feel that for the length of time he HAS been speaking, that he speaks fine; and I am not in a hurry for him to lose the cute “I wuv you moor”. He is only 3 1/2, and will be a very young ‘4’ when he starts school. If the speech is not improving as he gets a little older, then I will let him start the therapy.
We got our letter last week that Jacob has been accepted for the 2013-2014 Pre-K program. I am happy because I know he will love school; and sad because he is my last little baby boy, and I am so not in a hurry for him to grow up! I feel like I am trying to catch smoke with my hands as I try to savor every last minute of his tender youth!