Having a child with celiac disease poses unique challenges both for you and your child. The lifestyle changes – and how they are managed – that come with a diagnosis of celiac disease can be difficult during the school-age years. Celiac Disease Foundation has developed this Back-to-School and 504 Plan Guide to help you and your child transition safely through these changes. In this guide, we offer suggestions for age-appropriate ways of managing celiac disease and non-celiac wheat sensitivity at school and college to ensure good health, proper development, and academic success for your child.
Individuals with celiac disease and non-celiac wheat sensitivity have different needs at different times in their life. Because of these special needs, celiac disease is considered a disability under the Americans with Disabilities Act. This designation is particularly relevant in certain public establishments, like educational institutions, from pre-school to college. It is important to advocate for your child’s needs to ensure that you receive the resources and accommodations that are necessary for your child to live a healthy life and to thrive developmentally and socially.
If your child is in a public school system, or attends a private school that receives federal funds, a 504 Plan is the federally recognized method of detailing any and all accommodations that need to be made by the school to assure that a child with a disability receives an appropriate education. Section 504(a) of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 prohibits discrimination in all institutions receiving federal financial assistance, including schools, on the basis of disability, including certain diseases. The law requires that these schools remove barriers to learning, which include accommodating a child’s gluten-free diet and disability needs.