Starting Kindergarten - has anyone had experience with a para?

Has anyone had a young child in school with a para? My endo is recommending a para for my daughter and I was wondering what their duties/responsibilities are? Can they test them? Will they sit with them at lunch to make sure they eat? Do they carry the child’s diabetes supplies? Do these duties/responsibilites vary from school district to school district?

Looking to go into her IEP meeting prepared…


Hi Celeste,

I have an almost 5yr old T1D starting kindergarten in the Fall. Of course, I’m interested, and worried how it will work out. But, what is a “para?”

Hi, Celeste, my son is 5 now, he goes to kindergaten. He has a one on one para at school. She cannot test his BG or manipulate the pump, but she stays with him in the classroom and lunch room ( and makes sure he eats, or at least she can judge how much was eaten), takes him to the nurse for Bg checks and insulin, She also goes on all the school trips with him, She is wonderful!!! We had a para last year as well, when my son attended mandatory preschool for 2 hours, but this year it’s a full day and his para is a mother of a diabetic child, diagnosed last year, so I definitely can’t ask for more, she’s amazing, looks out for him, obviously she knows D care, helps me with carb counts for birthday parties and school lunches, Couldn’t ask for more.
I highly recommend you get a para for your child , it’ll give you total peace of mind.
We are in New York, we needed a letter from our endo and the school nurse gave me a form to fill out( that was done in the spring, before the next school year), in september we met with a person in charge of paraprofessionals in our school, first month they kept changing them but then we got our current para, I’m going to do my best to get her for next year as well.
Good luck!

Does your daughter have other special needs besides T1? IEP’s are not used unless academic issues are also present. 504’s are for medical accomodations.

I personally have not heard of a child having a para assigned only because of Type 1 diabetes, but I could be wrong. If there are other needs besides just the T1, this might be a good choice.

Why does your endo feel your child needs a para? Is there a full time school nurse?

You can check your state laws to see what nurses and non nurses are allowed to do in your school system as far as giving insulin, glucagon etc.

Para = Paraprofessional.

We have not. Our son was dx at 20 months and went through preschool and primary without an aide. We were lucky to have wonderful staff at both schools and this has worked very well for him. My personal feeling is that he needs to learn how to manage T1D for life without someone following him around so we did not want an aide following him around in school. Again, just MY PERSONAL VIEW, not a judgement.

On the topic of IEP vs 504, for the first 4 years of elementary school we only had an IEP in place (he has no other accommodations needed besides T1D). Last year we did start a 504 plan, more to have it well established before middle school than anything else. This, again, is really school or district dependent. We had such cooperation from our school that the IEP served our son’s needs perfectly. YDMV.

If you had no other issues besides T1, your school most likely used an Individual Health Plan, an IHP , not an IEP. All these acronyms are confusing :slight_smile:

An IEP is an Individual Education Plan…it is used when academic issues exist.

IEP stands for Individualized Education Program (alternatively called an “Individualized Education Plan,” “Individual Education Plan,” or some combination thereof). This is a legally binding document that spells out exactly what special education services your child will receive and why. It will include your child’s classification, placement, services such as a one-on-one aide and therapies, academic and behavioral goals, a behavior plan if needed, percentage of time in regular education, and progress reports from teachers and therapists. The IEP is planned at an IEP meeting.

It is quite common to go from an IHP “Indiviual Health Plan” to a 504.

I’ve never heard of a para, but that sounds like something I wouldn’t pass up. At that age children forget things pretty easily. My daughter is in Kindergarten and she sometimes gets distracted and forgets to eat. It’s scary.

Actually a lot of children with only diabetes issues use an IEP. And it’s not up to the school what you use, it’s up to the parent.

I think academic issues will always exist with type 1s. If someone has low blood sugar their brain simply doesn’t work as well. High blood sugars can have the same effect.

My daughter currently receives OT & PT and it will continue through Kindergarten - hence the IEP meeting - since they are talking about what she will need in the fall - the school district wanted to bring in the school nurse and address her medical needs at the same time. My daughter will only be 4 when she enters Kindergarten and I will feel alot better if she does have an adult assigned to her ( she rarely tells us if she feels low - and at this age they can go low quickly!) Plus she is having trouble going up and down stairs and that will be a bigger problem if her sugars are off - would prefer an adult with her. In NYS - you can have an IEP just with a diagnosis of Diabetes - but in my daughter’s case - she is behind physically as well.

I am very familiar with these forms and this process and know well the purpose of an IEP. My son certain did have an IEP with an IHP attached. It followed the exact same process as my daughter’s IEP process when she visited the speech therapist at school, including an IEP meeting with the teacher, principal and district nurse.

I want to be certain that is VERY clear, lest someone think they are doing the wrong thing for their child by working out an IEP with IHP. There are other ways to go about it too, but this is one valid approach used by our school district.

An IEP is wonderful, no doubt about it. It actually gives more protection than a 504 plan. The criteria for an IEP is stricter than a 504. Both the 504 and the IEP are great ways to keep your child safe at school and get them accomodations they need. No one should feel like one is better or worse than the other, they are just different and have different qualifying criteria.

Sounds like a para could be really helpful then, especially with her being a young kindergartner and not feeling her lows.

We have a para for my daughter who is in a public kindergarten in NYC. The para is great!

Some of the many things she does include:
She checks my daughter’s BG in the classroom, so she doesn’t have to travel to the nurse’s office which would cause her to miss classtime. My daughter doesn’t yet recognize her lows, so the Para helps keep a vigilant watch and has been able to visually recognize my daughter’s lows and then verify with a BG test so she can quickly treat them. She also sends us text messages to alert us of any high/low BG tests or if she has any questions for us. She monitors carb intake at the lunch room to make sure everything we send is consumed. In the class there are communal snacks brought in each week by a different parent: the para lets us know what the snack is and the info on the nutrition label; for snacks without a label she will text-message us a picture and discuss with us on the phone so we can calculate the number of carbs needed. She carries my daughter’s tester and glucose tablets.

All in all, she has been an amazing resource and a great help in letting us feel that our daughter is being well taken care of at school.