Back to School: Part I – The Challenges

Tracy Davenport, Ph.D. Health Guide
  • Most mothers and fathers find the following phrase incredibly comforting: “Back to school!” But for a parent of a child with reflux, this is not always the case. In fact, sending a child to school that has acid reflux can require an enormous amount of planning and communication between you and the teachers.

    First of all, if this is your child’s first school experience and your child has a limited diet due to reflux, you may find yourself quickly reminded of how many “special” days there are to plan around. You might even feel like you need to hire a professional planner just to keep track of the upcoming field trips, birthday celebrations and egg hunts, not to mention Chinese New Year and the days the teachers decide to have a pizza party to reward the students.
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    Second, there is an enormous amount of communication that has to occur between you and the teachers to make each week go well. This is our son’s second year of preschool, and once again, we had a meeting with all of his teachers before the first day of school. In this meeting, we came up with a plan for food that was acceptable for his snack time (since our son also has food allergies we provide the snacks in a special container). We also asked the teachers to let us know ahead of time whenever possible when there will be school days filled with food. This will allow us to choose whether or not our son will attend school that day, or if there is a special treat we can provide him for that occasion. For example, next week his preschool class is spending an entire day making applesauce. Since our son is allergic to apples, that’s a day he will miss. However, we have provided his school with a container of cupcakes for their freezer, so for birthday celebrations, our son will not feel left out.

    I want to end this blog with an example of the extra communication we have already had in the first month of school with the teachers at my son’s preschool. His teachers are wonderful and are working just as hard as we are to ensure that our child’s first experience with school is a positive one.

    Note from our son’s preschool:

    Ben is giving us a hard time with his lunch. Jill said he did this last year also. We treat him the same way as the others and insist he eat the sandwich and fruit before being allowed dessert. Today he did not have dessert in his lunch box, and he asked that we take something from his snack box. We told him the blue box was just for snack and that all of his lunch choices would be in his lunch box. Could you please help us with this situation?

    Our response:
    Thank you Holli. The lunch situation is a difficult one. I know Ben is really tired of what he can eat, and yet I want you to treat him just like the others with regard to dessert. I know how loving you are, and I also suspect there will be a time in the near future when Ben’s frustration with his limited diet may surface in a real way. I hope it is not on your watch. As a family, we are learning the true meaning of one day at a time.
Published On: October 13, 2006