Friday, January 31, 2014

Allergy Parent's Bat Signal: Homeschool, 504, something else?

I have probably sat down to write this blog post, or one very similar a million times.  I wind up getting rambly and not having a real point, so they are all just archived and will never see the light of the actual interwebz, which is likely for the best.

Today, however, I have a purpose in mind.  I would like feedback.  I would like ideas.  I would like someone to pat me on the back and say "there there I get it, this is how we handle it and it will all be okay."

Trouble is you can't give me the last one 100% and it is the one I want the most.  But I do know that I can get some ideas and feedback from other been there done this parents, and that is primarily what I am hoping for most realistically.

The Beans has allergies to six out of the top eight major food allergens.  I have discussed it briefly on this blog a few times, but mostly because I didn't want to make this into an "allergy mom" blog I have refrained.  I didn't mention all the weird reactions, the ones we couldn't explain.  I haven't detailed the panic I have felt countless times in silly situations that should be innocuous and no big deal because I am paralyzed with fear that Beans has been exposed and may puff up and stop breathing on me.  I didn't share about the time his face swelled up or the countless hives we have had to watch and Benadryl out of existence.

I didn't want this to become and "allergy mom" blog because, well if we gonna be blunt, I don't want to be an allergy mom.  It was a little corner of my world where I could just pretend it isn't a biggie.

But I suck at pretending.

So, the Beans will be three in April.  Apart from the normal "oh my gosh my baaaaaby!'ing that I am doing at this I am also arrested with a new panic.


Starting with the 2014/15 school year in August the Beans is preschool eligible.  Bunyan and I have oscillated a million times on where we stand on the subject.  He was the one to panic first (outloud) and say "can't we just homeschool him?"

I never pictured being a homeschool parent.  I used to be pretty opposed to the idea.  At present, I have educated myself a lot more on what GOOD homeschooling looks like and I have no opposition to it in principal.  Just ... do I want to do it?

My hesitancies with homeschooling Beans, and I mean really homeschooling him, not the summer school stuff I do with Meatball which we are prepping for already this year, stem from two main thoughts.

One: He would love a classroom environment SO much.

Two: I was kinda looking forward to having him go to school for MY sake.  

So if item numero dos makes me a bad mom, okay.  I am going for honest here, and to be honest I was looking forward to the possibilities of 3 hours a day while he is in preschool AND then once he is in full day maybe I could go back to work?  I could be ME, more than just the mom and house elf.  Not necessarily a decision maker, but financially this would make a big difference to us as a family too.

Item number one is the part that makes me sad.  I don't know how to look into homeschooling groups in my area to help with the socialization stuff.  The one I found says it is "closed" which was pretty discouraging.  I am not well versed on my state's laws regarding homeschool, I have a lot of research to do.

Academically, I am not worried.  That is so not my issue.  It is all the other stuff.

But when I start to think about sending him off to school ... I am overwhelmed with the number of opportunities with which he could be exposed.  I am well versed in 504 plans, I will link some stuff I have found at the end of this post in case it is helpful to anyone else.  But a 504 plan is just a plan.  Even a really good one, even when executed by a phenomenal teacher and school staff is less secure and safe than my home is.  My home is kept as free of any allergen as possible.

You start talking about removing allergens from public school classrooms and people bust out the pitch forks and start talking about their kid's fundamental need and right to have peanut butter.

It isn't that I disagree with those parents.  It is just that when debating about their 8 hours of inconvenience that can help improve the chances of keeping my kid alive I have a hard time not becoming emotionally involved in the discussion.  

And honestly, I don't think peanut and tree nut free classrooms in my school district and area are a big deal anymore, so it isn't the peanut butter.  It is all the other stuff.  Beans cannot come in contact with peanuts, tree nuts, dairy, egg, soy, gluten, honey, bananas, and possibly latex.  Even if parents, teachers and a school were willing it would be challenging.  Add to this that they won't be willing to remove all those things from the school day for my special snowflake and you introduce risks.  What if Jimmy doesn't wash his hands and touches Beans?  What if snacks are mixed up and he eats something he shouldn't?  What if, what if, what if?! 

So then my mind goes back to homeschooling and round and round we go.  Bunyan is no better with this, he cycles as much as I do about it.

So here is the part where I hope to get feedback.  If you DO have a school aged kiddo with food allergies what do you do?  If your child attends school (public or otherwise) outside your home what kind of 504 plan do you have in place?  If you homeschool what does that look like and what brought you to this decision?

If you don't have any feedback for me, but could share this with anyone you think might, I would super appreciate it too.  I just want to gather as much info as possible so that when we do commit to a decision we can do it in as informed a way as possible.

Rather than slap 50 links up here I am just going to provide you with one.  This is the link to my Pinterest board, Allergy Resources.  For the record, my name is not actually "Helen Highwater" but it is a fitting pseudonym none the less ;)  I also started a Pinterest board for homeschooling and preschool in addition to lots of other stuff.

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