It is not uncommon for children with physical or developmental disabilities to have specific medical needs as well. For example, a child with cerebral palsy may experience seizures.
California parents may have extensive experience when it comes to managing their child’s medical needs. However, if they will soon send their children off to school, they might worry: how are these medical needs addressed?
There is a plan for that
Just as children with disabilities might qualify to have an individual education plan (IEP) or 504 plan that provides accommodations or modifications to meet a child’s educational needs, there is a plan to meet their medical needs. This is an individual health plan (IHP). Perhaps your child has one already if your family worked with a caregiver in the past or present.
The IHP describes your child’s medical needs, as well as the treatment or management of those particular needs. This might include, but is not limited to:
- Schedules and dosages of medication the child should receive
- General care information
- Instructions for emergencies
In many cases, the school nurse will follow the IHP and provide services that meet your child’s medical needs. Though, in some situations, paraprofessionals might have the proper training to provide some services.
Communication will be important
Even though the IHP will provide instructions and information needed to ensure your child’s medical needs are met during school hours, it will still be important for you to maintain an open line of communication with school staff. This might include your child’s teachers and the school nurse.
Your child’s medical needs might change over time. Therefore, the IHP will need updating. While it is critical to update the plan itself, maintaining points of contact with the staff who work with your child at school and keeping them updated on any changes will also be essential.
It is only natural to worry about your child when you send them off to school. However, an IHP and consistent communication can help ease your anxiety.