In my last blog post, I provided tips for how to choose a school for your food allergic/Celiac child. However, that was only step 1 of an advocating process that will be ongoing as long as you are involved with making decisions for the well-being of your child.
Even when things are going well in your child’s learning environment, the relationship you build now goes a long way towards future interactions. Because bumps WILL happen along the way: the teacher you normally love who plans a lesson that excludes your child or the principal who won’t let you go on the camping trip with your allergic child because other parents feel you’re getting special treatment. I’ve encountered both personally.
So first things first, this all boils down to you and your attitude. Yes, you. So many of us have done full battle for years with our own families, daycare providers, children and even spouses, that we tend to go at this with a sledgehammer. Put away the sledgehammer and get out the honey shoes.
These old proverbs have been repeated for centuries because they’re often true and apply to how you advocate for your child.
First, the honey:
I’m certainly not suggesting that honey solves all problems but at least start there. I’ve shared this beautiful letter many times over the years and I’ll share it again to help you get started (thanks to allergy mom Caroline Moassessi, otherwise known as The Grateful Foodie): https://www.gratefulfoodie.com/xxx/
Next, the shoes:
And as for that camping trip mentioned at the beginning of my post? Frankly, my husband wasn’t thrilled to go on a trip with 150 ten to twelve year olds, no matter what else the other parents thought. But he went after I went over the head of the principal – the only time I ever did so. It all boiled down to this question that I asked the school district’s head of elementary schools when I phoned and asked her for her help: “Which staff member will be taking the full responsibility for ensuring the safety of what our child will eat at a remote camp?”
Her response? She said she thought the school was lucky to have parents who would go on a camping trip with their allergic child because they knew the issues far beyond what any staff member ever could. She felt it was common sense that one of us should accompany our child.
Ideal, of course, but it might not have gone that way and then I would have gone farther. Firmly, fairly, calmly and with conviction. Be that advocate for your child. They need you and they will learn from you how to advocate for themselves. Priceless.
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