My daughter starts school in September 2016. The months are whizzing past and I feel totally unprepared for her to be released independently to the world.
I’m very protective over my little darling, all mums are. The thing that scares me the most is I am sending her into an environment that I no longer have control of. How will she cope? How will it affect her?
Ellie’s eczema is severe. It’s triggered by UV Rays from both sunlight and fluorescent lights, heat, cold, dust mites, certain dog breeds, food allergies to name but a few things. I can spot a flare up at fifty paces! If she flares I am at the ready to help protect my delicate little princess as much as I can. She can go and have a lie down if she is itchy, sore and exhausted. I can move her to another room which is cooler. I can apply creams to sooth and most importantly, I can give cuddles to comfort. I won’t be there to do that when she is at school! We have come so far on her journey. I want it to continue to be positive. Change isn’t something that is going to come easily to either of us. When my eldest daughter started school, my biggest concern was whether she would have a school meal or packed lunch. When you have a child with more complex needs your list of concerns multiply.
Ellie’s quality of education is going to depend on her environment being right for her and for her physical needs being met to make her comfortable. It’s a fine balance and if it tips her too far out of her comfort zone then she becomes a different person completely and shuts down. Her childminder and I met with the local Council Early years inclusion officer who took a detailed look at Ellie’s requirements and decided that something called a Educational Health Care Plan (EHCP) would be needed. I wasn’t familiar with the terminology, it replaced the old system of children having a statement of needs within education.
The EHCP if approved, will detail in full all of Ellie’s additional needs to ensure that she has full access to education and a bespoke plan to keep her healthy at school. This is really reassuring for me as I didn’t realise this kind of thing was available and I had even considered home schooling her. Everything from creams, medication, environment, temperature, emotional support are being taken into account.
We are in the very early stages of this. The time scale for local councils to deal with these plans is approximately 20 weeks.
The reason I am writing this is I am a lucky person. I speak to many parents through my Facebook support group who’s children have sadly had a less than great experience at school and who aren’t aware that such provisions are available for extra support. Thankfully not all children have Eczema severe enough to warrant this kind of plan. However, for those that do, I urge you communicate with the right people as early as you can to make sure such care plans can be put in place.
The National Eczema society have produced a fantastic parent/teacher check list which can help organise your thoughts and communicate your child’s needs as clearly as possible.
I will keep you updated with our journey to school.