Laura Burgess Martin, Special needs parent; work in non-profit sector
My son has 15 food allergies, asthma, a feeding tube, and other medical conditions. The number one piece of advice I give parents is to communicate, communicate, communicate with the school (teachers, administration, paraprofessional, etc) from the very beginning. Always maintain a positive attitude when meeting with school employees. When meeting for my son's first IEP meeting, the meeting was overwhelmingly positive. It was clear the school wanted to do everything for my son to make sure he was safe but also included.
It is in my son's IEP that anytime he leaves the classroom, he must be accompanied by a teacher or paraprofessional. Because of the numerous allergies, the school did not have any problem with this request. He has not yet learned how to stand up for himself when it comes to his allergies and it is too risky for him to be alone at school. This has worked very, very well.
My son eats lunch with his kindergarten class. He sits at the end of the table, his paraprofessional sits across from him, and a student sits beside him. This allows him to be safe but also interact with students. He ONLY eats food that is sent from home (we also send his own water cup and utensils).
When there is a class celebration, the teacher does a wonderful job to not have food be a part of the celebration or to have foods similar to something my son can eat. I will send his safe snack from home.
The school nurse knows my son very well. She calls me anytime something seems questionable in regards to his health. Again, communication is SO important when it comes to the health and safety of your child.