IBD and School Accommodations: Establishing a 504 Plan
Sep 15, 2017
Being a student with Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD), can be a stressful experience for children and their parents. Concerns about access to restrooms, missed school days and homework and the general impact of managing a chronic illness within a school setting are common.
The establishment of a 504C plan (a legal document which provides for school-related accommodations for students with medical conditions), can be helpful in reducing stress for both families and students and allow a child with IBD to reach their full academic potential. Most children who have been diagnosed with IBD are eligible for a 504 plan. There are a few exceptions, so speak to your social worker or psychologist about eligibility if you think your child’s school does not offer 504 plans.
Here are the necessary steps to ensure your child gets school accommodations.
Contact your child’s guidance counselor or special education coordinator to get a 504 meeting scheduled.
Gather documentation. You will need to request a 504 letter from your child’s IBD team. An IBD RN coordinator, social worker or physician can provide the documentation needed for the school meeting.
Come prepared. Bring a copy of common accommodations for school personnel and any necessary documentation to the 504 meeting. Be prepared to advocate for any special accommodations for your child (i.e. my child’s medication makes her nauseous in the morning which makes her 15 minutes late for school a couple of times a week).
Be an advocate and know your rights.
Request a copy of your child’s 504 plan once it is completed and signed.
Ask how the 504 plan is communicated to your child’s teachers so they can be aware of the plan.
Don’t be afraid to request the plan be reviewed if your child’s medical issues change.
Be Proactive. It is important that all teachers are aware that your child has a 504 plan and what accommodations are in it.
Talk to your child’s teacher as early as possible about your child’s 504 plan. Don’t be afraid to ask if the teacher has read your child’s 504 and provide them a copy if not.
This is a great time to provide some education to your child’s teachers about IBD and set the tone for a collaborative relationship early on. If your child is in middle school or high school, having your child participate in these conversations, or even lead them, can be a great way to help your child develop self-advocacy skills.
Finally, it is important to remember that a 504 plan is just that - a plan. It takes everyone; the teacher, school administrators, parents and student to put it into action. Having a good working relationship and open communication with your child’s teachers and school personnel is important to help troubleshoot any challenges and help your child feel comfortable using the accommodations in their 504 plan.
Rose Schroedl, PhD, is a pediatric psychologist who specializes in the psychological care of children and their families with Inflammatory Bowel Disease and other gastrointestinal disorders.
Marci Johnson, LISW-S
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