Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Reflections on an Allergy-Free School Year

My son just finished Kindergarten.  I had been apprehensive about sending him to school because of his allergies and asthma.

On the first day of school I sent a box of non-perishable snacks for him to have access to during their snack time.  This worked really well and I just made sure it was well-stocked throughout the year.

Sometimes I would send snacks for the whole class and my son was always excited about getting to be the snack helper.

For each holiday party I made sure I sent a treat bag just for him if I wasn't able to be at the party to supervise.  I also sent him with his own cake or cookie to eat during the party.  This worked very well.

After the first day of school when my son was offered some cheese puffs by another student, he never ate anyone else's food at lunch.  I packed his lunch every day and my son never questioned why he couldn't eat the school tray lunch.

We did have two incidents that were cause for concern.  The school gives each child a prepackaged cupcake one day during the month of their birthday.  My son's name was on the list for December so he was given a cupcake.  No one seemed to remember he had food allergies.  My son assumed that since an adult gave him the cupcake that it was safe to eat.

While he didn't have an immediate reaction he did complain of a stomach ache, had some small skin colored bumps on his chest, and needed a breathing treatment that night.  Thankfully, the reaction wasn't severe, but I did talk to the school about being more diligent.

One other time he was given some pizza that another class brought to my son's class to share.  The teacher must have asked if he ate pizza at home and he said yes.  He was given a piece, but only ate a couple of bites because it didn't taste like his pizza.  He had a similar response as when he ate the cupcake.

Those were the only times he was given the wrong foods.  I thought it would be simpler to just tell the school not to let him eat anything I don't send, but apparently it wasn't a fool-proof idea.

I also had to make sure that I was informed about special events.  For example, on the hundredth day of school everyone got ice cream.  I brought my son's ice cream so that he wouldn't be left out.  Also, on that day my son's class counted out 100 fruit loops and strung them on a necklace.  I sent cereal for my son and he was able to have fun, too.

It was a lot of work to be so diligent for my son, but he is worth it.  We are looking into the option of having a 504 Plan for next school year.

How do you handle your child's food allergies while they are at school?


Anonymous said...

Hi Jackie
I also have a child with severe food allergies and here are some of the ways we have dealt with them at school. On a large notice board at school there are two cardboard notices, one red and one green. The read cardboard contains pictures of foods we ask parents not to send with their children and pictures on the green cardboard are items they can send. I also made up a food list in two columns, once again one side red and the other green. This list gives food ideas for snacks, sandwich fillings, fruits, even down to brands. Parents just want to know what they can bring, as it is not part of their everyday life, they simply do not know what they can and can't bring. The sheet has a magnet on the back for parents to put on their fridge at home so each morning when they are preparing their child's lunch boxes the list is there for them to double check. This has been a really popular idea. We attend a school (in Australia) that is so supportive, so understanding and so aware that I can leave my child knowing that when I come back he is going to be fine. Teachers check lunchboxes before the children go out to lunch and any item that has any allergen in it is removed and a note is sent home to the parent. I hope these ideas can be of some help to you.

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