Do you have a food-allergic child that’s getting ready to start school? Even before school begins, it is important that you contact your child’s school and inform them of the scope and nature of your child’s allergies. The more the school knows, the better prepared they will be to assist in keeping your child safe and allergy-free at school.
Here are some basic steps to get started:
- Contact the school and schedule a time to meet with the appropriate authority (which may include the principal, teacher, school nurse, and/or cafeteria director). Come to your meeting prepared with supporting information. Check out www.foodallergy.org for a sample Food Allergy And Anaphylaxis Emergency Care Plan. You can complete the form in advance and have your physician sign it. The school can then keep a copy of the plan on file.
- Meet with your child’s teacher. A number of challenges can crop up in the classroom in regard to food allergies. What happens when food-based incentives (like an ice cream or pizza party) could make your child sick? What about when holiday or birthday treats are not safe for your child? How can the classroom be managed so that your child does not feel isolated or different? Do special arrangements need to be made for lunchroom seating? Give your child’s teacher information and resources to prepare for needed adjustments.
The Food Allergy Resources and Education website has a wealth of information for you and your child’s school. Many of the materials were developed in collaboration with the Centers for Disease Control. Some are geared just for educators such as a teacher checklist for dealing with food-allergic kids. There is also information for managing kids’ allergies during field trips and even during emergencies such as while sheltering in place. As they say, knowledge is power. Offer these resources to school officials to help them provide your child with a safe and happy school experience.
Also remember that if food allergies are significantly affecting your child’s quality of life, there are treatment options available for wheat allergy, milk allergy, nut allergy, and more through sublingual immunotherapy (oral allergy drops). Talk to your physician about prescribing a sublingual immunotherapy treatment program for your child.