Tube feeding at school is much more common than many parents may realize. It may also be an important part of keeping a tube-fed child well socialized. If this is the first time your tube-fed child is going to school or if you’re changing schools, here are some considerations to ensure the safest and healthiest process for your child to be well fed while in an educational setting.
- Determine the feasibility. Before you send your tube-fed child to school, you must determine if the school has the staff and appropriate resources to be able to attend to your child’s feeding needs and feeding schedule.
- Include tube feeding in your IEP or 504 Plan. Most schools will require a doctor’s note, prescription, or set of instructions. The Instructional Education Plan (IEP) or 504 Plan is the appropriate place to describe your child’s feeding regimen. You can detail instructions on the volume to be fed, over what period of time, etc. You may also want to have a discussion with school staff to ensure they are partnering with you in your child’s feeding needs while at school.
- Weigh tube feeding options. Depending on the environment, it may be easier for your child to be syringe fed versus pump fed. Discuss options with school staff. Of course, a lot will depend upon the availability of staff and the classroom schedules.
- Emphasize safety. Getting your child fed at school is your first priority, but it must be done with your child’s safety in mind. Be sure the staff is putting safety first by making sure they are educated on safe handling procedures, such as proper hygiene and correct tube placement.
- Determine a point person. Your child should have a specific teacher or aide they can rely on, not only for their feeding needs, but in case of problems such as a pump being turned off, or tube displacement.
- Pack adequate supplies. It’s a good rule of thumb to make sure you always pack extra supplies, including formula or homemade food, bottled water, tubes and gauze, and spare clothing in case of leaks.
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