I have also asked my friend and neighbour Samantha who has been through the trauma and has an eleven years head start of us on the schooling of a severe allergy child to share with you her experiences.
My daughter, E, is now 17. She was diagnosed with multiple and very severe allergies from birth. It was a bumpy road as she was growing up- managing her condition and the problems it brings. Coping with the worries having an allergic child can bring.
It is very difficult to trust yourself, as a parent, to get things right and make sure your child comes to no harm regarding their allergies. But handing over that responsibility to another person- who often underestimates the severity and danger of the effects of food allergies is an almost impossible task. For a child with allergies, life is not 'normal' and the standard rules and teachings simply don't apply. Non allergics grossly underestimate the impact that the disability of those suffering from allergies have. The simple pleasures of sharing food, closeness and touch, and being the same as your peers is stripped. Everything requires planning. Sure, they can adapt to their needs (and wants) but it's not a textbook case.
I had looked into the possibility of home schooling E from the age of 5. I then had concerns that she would be lacking in social interaction, and that her development would be stunted. So I made the decision to trial some school-time with the option of withdrawing her if she became unwell due to the effects of her allergies.
I tried to work very closely with the school, to inform and educate all of the staff involved in E's day to day teaching on the dangers and risks of allergies. Those of you with allergic kiddies will understand what I mean when I say this. It's not just a case of not giving the allergic child a nut- its about sharing toys, holding hands, sitting in the dinner hall etc. All these things can be a minefield!
I made sure I was always available for school trips, parent support in the classroom, I volunteered my time in the dining hall too. During primary school years it became the norm for me to be involved in the school. E and her classmates worried if I wasn't around doing things at the school!
Secondary school posed far more problems. With far less supervision of the children, bigger classes and contact with more pupils- and less involvement accepted from E, as she was at 'big school'- it was a fraught time. With endless runs to pick her up from the medical room after a rash appeared or a wheezing fit got out of control. Teens are notoriously difficult to barter with and that also includes taking any medication or managing a chronic condition they may have!
We had several intense and nerve-racking moments while she was in the care of the school, and at age 14, E was withdrawn from formal education and was home tutored. This was due to her attendance being low. As her reactions increased, her attendance dropped- and her confidence in her ability to keep up with her peers slipped. Leaving school resulted in a lack of formal structure in her day to day life. But I believe education is not just about reading books and passing exams. it's about living, learning about the world around you and building skills that carry you through life.
I'm glad E was able to have structure that school offered. where she was able build the social skills she needs to allow her to make decisions. Supporting our children to take responsibility for themselves and her actions is a life skill. Everyone in the world should to be able to have the ability to think for themselves, and school is a place where this is learned.
Further reading that may interest
Direct Gov guidelines on educating your child at home
Supporting home education in Scotland
Again please feel free to ask questions, leave comments or leave links to sites that may be of use to us.