Making a list of back to school purchases is something most parents do. Parents of children with allergies should be making another list as well.
Preparation both at home and at the school can help to prevent children accidently being exposed to foods that will cause a reaction. In the unlikely event of an allergic reaction, a proper plan agreed upon by parents and teachers can save a life or prevent a trip to the hospital.
How Does Your School Handle Food Allergies?
Some schools have very strict policies about potential allergens. Some schools have no policy at all. Educating yourself on what particular plan your school has is an important step. Use the school’s policy as a frame work for your own plan.
Work with the school to address any concerns you might have with their policy:
- Know where your children are going to be eating.
- Know what sort of in class snacks are available to them, or possibly provided to them by other parents.
- Are foods like peanut butter not allowed at all, or does the school keep sensitive kids at a separate table?
- Prepare a list of questions before you head in to speak to your child’s teachers and administrators so you don’t forget key things you need to know.
Knowledge is Key
Knowing what specific triggers your child has is key to helping them to avoid contact with them. Work with your physician to determine which tests may be best for your children. They should be familiar with the tests and will be able to help you choose one that is appropriate to your child’s condition.
Talk to your children about food allergies and how they can keep safe.Children are smart, arm them with the information that they need to help themselves.
- Reassure them that there is nothing wrong, and that they aren’t in any kind of trouble.
- Teach them to ask about ingredients or read food labels.
- Include a lesson about just what allergies are and the symptoms of an allergic reaction.
- As part of your talk, let them know what to do in case of allergic reaction. Explain to them how it feels and that they should seek out an adult as soon as they realize what’s going on.
- Coach them on what to tell the adults and what actions they should expect the adults to take.
Formalize Your Food Allergy Plan with Your School
Write down everything you discussed and provide the school with a checklist of symptoms as well as actions to prevent a reaction or what to do when a reaction occurs. Hives, trouble breathing, fainting, swelling all of these could be indications that should tip off your child’s teachers to an allergic reaction taking place. Consider adding proper actions to be taken if there are birthday parties or holiday snacks. If your school doesn’t have a policy for these things, ask them to consider setting one up as part of your plan.
As part of your conversation with the school, let them know what kind of medications that should be used in case of an allergic reaction. If there is a risk of serious reaction, make sure to send two epinephrine shots to your school to be administered according to school policy.
While food allergies can be a serious health issue, the proper preparation and planning can keep your kids safe while at school.