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Craft at DS's school... Am I overracting?

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DS was diagnosed with celiac disease at age 12 months and is now a healthy, gluten-free 5-year-old in kindergarten at our local public school. We do not have a formal 504 in place, just verbal understandings with his teachers, the school nurse, and the district's head dietitian. He brown-bags it every day for lunch, but is allowed to get gluten-free items like milk and fresh fruit from the cafeteria. I specifically addressed the issues of Play-Doh (I prefer he never use it because I am worried it will get under his nails and find its way to his mouth) and papier-mâché (which they say they never use). I did not, however, think to address the issue of ice cream cone crafts.

Apparently this week the kindergarten class made a Christmas craft by covering a sugar cone with green icing and sticking little candies all over it. On Friday they brought home their creations. I am hopping mad that (without DH and I being consulted or notified) they had DS make a delicious treat that every OTHER kid can eat, but he can't. DS says he did wash his hands afterward (apparently all the kids did, as you can imagine how messy this project was), so he wasn't put particularly at risk. (This is a kid who would NEVER risk eating wheat in a million years... one of the advantages of being diagnosed so young. So there was no real risk of him sneaking a taste.) I am mad because to me it just seems insensitive, even cruel. Especially when they make gluten-free sugar cones. On the other hand, DS does not seem bothered at all. He just enjoyed making the craft (he loves all art projects) and he is actually as excited to watch his (non-celiac) big brother eat the treat as any other kid would be to eat it themself!

Am I overreacting here? I feel like this is a sign that this informal verbal understanding is not enough and we need a formal, written 504. But is it really as big a deal as I think it is? What do you all think?


Robyn

ds b. 7/2004, adopted 2/2005, ADHD dx 6/2009

ds b. 12/2007, no dx

ds b. 4/2010, celiac dx 5/2011

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Yes you are over reacting. The teacher had him wash his hands when he was finished. Your child is not the only kid in the class. He needs to learn sometime that the world doesn't revolve around his celiacs disease. As long as you've taught him to wash his hands well and not eat the gluten no matter how tempting it looks you're being the best mom. He's going to have to learn sooner or later there's not always going to be an option for him but it sounds like he had a good time doing the craft and he knew not to eat it. I don't think any harm was done here other than the teacher being a little insensitive but don't make a big deal about that and point it out to your child. I'm a teacher and personally I would have got him his own (but I also have celiacs so I know what it's like to be left out. His teacher obviously doesn't.) A good tip tho that I do with my own students who have allergies is to always have a treat on hand they can eat. So buy him some skittles to have the teacher keep or a frozen cupcake to keep in the teachers lounge freezers for when there are birthday parties. 

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Actually, I have to say that the teacher can't expect a 5 year old to know what has gluten and what doesn't.  Sounds like he did OK,....  But the fact that he was given gluten to eat and had to decide for himself if it was safe,  is scary to me.  I think you should get an official plan with the school.  I understand that he needs to learn, but he is only a kindergartener!  i see a lot of adults that don't understand what has gluten and what doesn't.  I can't imagine how anyone could expect a small child to know what has gluten in it.  When a teacher, whom a child is supposed to trust, gives him something...... Ugh!

 

edited to add - how does a kid know what an ice cream cone is made of if he has never seen one?  Or, if the ones he has at home are ok! He might assume the one at school is too.    I don't see a problem with him touching it, but I think you just got lucky that he didn't eat it like the other kids.


 

 

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I don't think your being unreasonable. Five is very young and no the world doesn't revolve around his coeliacs but there is no reason that at such a young age he should be expected to be understanding or even accepting 100% of the time. The teacher is actually very lucky your son didn't have a nibble of the cone or eat a crumb absentmindedly. 

Personally, I would gently mention it to the teacher with a reminder that you are happy to provide a safe substitute if you are given notice. I have always had to provide alternatives for my kids for various intolerances.

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11 hours ago, kshmom said:

He needs to learn sometime that the world doesn't revolve around his celiacs disease. As long as you've taught him to wash his hands well and not eat the gluten no matter how tempting it looks you're being the best mom. He's going to have to learn sooner or later there's not always going to be an option

THIS is such a sad attitude from an educator.  This is a 5 year old CHILD that is being expected to make the right choice. This is a kid who may want to "fit in" and just try it with bad results.  These kids KNOW they are different and this kind of thing just reinforces that to them when all they want is to be like everyone else.  Yes, they have to learn to navigate the world but at 5 what they need is a safe learning environment where they can learn to read and write.  These kinds of activities aren't required to learn. There are many fun activities that could be done that don't involve food or putting kids at risk.  

 

To the OP,  perhaps this is your chance to get in to have a formal 504 written up.  Figure out how you would like situation like this to be handled in the future and figure that in to your plan. These kinds of things alway crop up so try to think around those corners.  They are a fluid document so if you need to make changes that can happen at any time.  Get your 504 request in writing to the schools 504 coordinator and principal and get on the road to getting a good solid plan in place!

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I think a written 504 plan would be a good idea. He has a lot of years of schooling ahead of him and unless it is written out he may get a teacher next year or the year after that who WON'T try to keep him safe.


gluten-free since June, 2011

It took 3 !/2 years but my intolerances to corn, soy, and everything else (except gluten) are gone!

Life is good!

 

 

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I think if your kid isn't bothered, you shouldn't be either. He was happy to give it to his brother? He didn't eat any? And he washed his hands? This kid deserves a big pat on the back for safely navigating the situation (and probably a nice gluten-free sweet as well!). Kids have to know how to deal on their own, even young kids. Teachers sometimes just don't think. My 2nd grader was recently offered whoppers by her absentminded teacher who really should know better. Luckily she was aware enough to refuse.

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Well, I think you're over-reacting in the fact that you've left this door open for the school to make decisions for the child...and then you didn't like the outcome.  504 Plans are to HELP the school HELP your child.  They can't know these things unless they're forced to.  Please get a plan in place.

 

Also, know that it gets better.  The older the kid the more vocal they will be to teachers.

 

My Kinder kid (not one of my kids with celiac) just had a gingerbread cookie decorating party at school.  And the teacher made every single item in the room safe for every single kid.  It's totally possible - even with a wide variety of allergies in one class.


Angela

Undiagnosed, but I'm positive that I'm the genetic link to celiac for my kids.  Gluten Free in solidarity of my girls!

Kid 1 (9 y/o girl) - DX celiac via blood in 9/2013 (age 7.5).  Negative biopsy in 10/2013.

Kid 2 (5 y/o boy) - DX as "latent celiac" via blood in 9/2013 (age 3.5).  Negative biopsy in 10/2013.

Kid 3 (3 y/o girl) - DX celiac via blood in 8/2013 (age 1.5) and 9/2013. 

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I agree with Southpaw13.  Your child didn't cheat, had a great attitude, and washed his hands after the craft.  He deserves praise and a big reward for making the tough choice to stay healthy.  When my seven year old was in a similar situation and made the right choice, we celebrated by having dessert before supper.  She loved it and felt proud of her actions too.

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I'm in the camp that thinks it was awesome of your son to have such a great attitude about it all and know not to eat it if he doesn't know the food. That's how my oldest has been from the get-go, and now his two younger siblings are as well. Sometimes you just can't do what others can. Simple. No drama.

That said, I think the teacher should have given you a heads up so you could at the very least talk it over with your son if you needed to, or you could have provided an alternative. I don't know much about the 504 plan but he's only starting school... (I homeschool so that's a bonus for us as far as celiacs.) The few school teachers I know go out of their way to accommodate kids with allergies.

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But Mayasmum, the world doesn't revolve around him.  I know he's very young, but he did exceptionally well and he does need to look after himself.  Unless he is going to be supervised every minute of every day, there will be temptations.  It sounds like he's doing really well and learning to take care of himself which is an awesome thing to be able to do. 

Edited by cashs mom

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9 minutes ago, cashs mom said:

But Mayasmum, the world doesn't revolve around him.  I know he's very young, but he did exceptionally well and he does need to look after himself.  Unless he is going to be supervised every minute of every day, there will be temptations.  It sounds like he's doing really well and learning to take care of himself which is an awesome thing to be able to do. 

Of course the world doesn't revolve around him! The other kids should be allowed to do the project.  But he is only 5!  How is he to know what an ice cream cone is made of?  Do they hand him the box & tell him to decide if its gluten-free or not?  My boys couldn't even read at that age!  Maybe he knows the ice cream cone he has at home is OK, so these must be OK, too?  And yes, 5 year olds are supposed to be supervised at all times, that is the law in most places, if not common sense.


 

 

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5 hours ago, cashs mom said:

But Mayasmum, the world doesn't revolve around him.  I know he's very young, but he did exceptionally well and he does need to look after himself.  Unless he is going to be supervised every minute of every day, there will be temptations.  It sounds like he's doing really well and learning to take care of himself which is an awesome thing to be able to do. 

Yes, at 5 they need to be supervised at all times.  Kiddo did do a great job but that is a lot to put on a kid that age. The repercussions of a slip up could be really bad. If the school knew and didn't even try to double check that it was okay, Mom has every reason to be upset.

 

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Going back and looking at the original post - it appears that the school has no real reason to be extra careful with this child.  The parents have not done any of the things needed to insure the school protect the child.  Teachers/ schools can't be expected to cater to, or even remember,every parents' whims.    If there is an actual medical need for an accomadation, there would be medical documentation and a set of instructions in place. For example, there would be a plan with doctor's orders for epi pens or inhalers or insulin.  Someone who prefers that the child not eat meat or artificial colors or gluten is not the same thing.  Teachers will try to remember and accomadation that, but with 25+ kids in a class..... Who can remember every child's preferences and quirks?  Because, in the US public schools, asking the teacher not to let your kid eat a certain food because you think it hurts them, isn't a medical diagnosis and plan.  If you want your child's Celiac disease taken seriously, you need to treat it like a serious medical issue and get the 504 or medical action plan in place.


 

 

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11 hours ago, StephanieL said:

Yes, at 5 they need to be supervised at all times.  Kiddo did do a great job but that is a lot to put on a kid that age. The repercussions of a slip up could be really bad. If the school knew and didn't even try to double check that it was okay, Mom has every reason to be upset.

 

I think its more important that this great kid knows enough to be able to say no to temptation than to put all the responsibility on the school who has hundreds of kids to monitor at all times.  That's a lot to put on them, too.

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6 hours ago, cashs mom said:

I think its more important that this great kid knows enough to be able to say no to temptation than to put all the responsibility on the school who has hundreds of kids to monitor at all times.  That's a lot to put on them, too.

Nope.  Not at 5.  Would it be expected that a diabetic kid at 5 would be able to monitor their condition with no adult guidance?   A 5 year old to inject themselves with epinephrin?  Celiac is a legally qualifying disability in the eyes of the ADA so the school DOES 100% have the responsibility to do just that.  Now not having a 504 means in this specific case they didn't and I'm not saying they are expected to if they don't but it sounds as if the OP was under the impression the school knew what was up.  

 

These are teachable moments for everyone and I completely agree that the kid should be praised for taking such proactive steps to manage and props to Mom for all the work she's done in preparing the kiddo for this!  

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On 12/30/2015 at 3:55 PM, StephanieL said:

Nope.  Not at 5.  Would it be expected that a diabetic kid at 5 would be able to monitor their condition with no adult guidance?   A 5 year old to inject themselves with epinephrin?  Celiac is a legally qualifying disability in the eyes of the ADA so the school DOES 100% have the responsibility to do just that.  Now not having a 504 means in this specific case they didn't and I'm not saying they are expected to if they don't but it sounds as if the OP was under the impression the school knew what was up.  

 

These are teachable moments for everyone and I completely agree that the kid should be praised for taking such proactive steps to manage and props to Mom for all the work she's done in preparing the kiddo for this!  

I understand.  But teachers/administrators have a ton of kids to keep track of.  No matter what anyone thinks, sometimes things are going to happen.  I'm just glad this kid is so smart and his mother has taught him really well.

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