Talking Allergies

son starts school in September 2007
Page 1 of 2

Author:  AmandaG [ Sun Apr 29, 2007 10:56 pm ]
Post subject:  son starts school in September 2007

My oldest son, Patrick, starts JK this september and I have already started freakin out. The school that he should be going to has not dealt with allergies in a long time and when I went to the school I dealt with a rather rude receptionist. This put me immedietly on guard because I did not want Patrick to be treated differently because of his allergies. My husband, Darren, and I have talked about putting the boys into the french catholic education system. After the incident with the receptionist I really started to look into the french education system and found a school in London that had great receptionist and a terrific principal. THe school has dealt with the allergies before and has a very good policy in place and was very confident about dealing with allergies. The down side is that the school is 45 minutes away by car.
Now that he has been accepted to the school, I find myself anxious about september. Although I am excited for Patrick, I am also extremely sccared for him. I know this is a good school, but at the same time I can't help but be worried about accidents. Every time we go to the allergist, allergies are added to the list. The most recent being potato,

If anyone has any ideas on how to deal with the stress of september I would greatly appreciate it.

Author:  KarenOASG [ Mon Apr 30, 2007 11:49 am ]
Post subject: 

For me, the most important things are the following:

1. Make sure you are well educated yourself about your child's allergies and allergies in general. A good resource is the new national guidelines and the acommpanying site: . I cannot stress enough how much of a good idea it is to read through this entire site.

The school should have been sent a copy of the guidelines in hard copy format (see ... p?catid=33 for a picture of the guidelines.)

Your allergist should have given you instructions about what to do in case of an emergency. (If he or she didn't, I would get in touch and ask about that.

Given that your child has multiple food allergies, I would suggest asking your allergist for a letter to the school clearly indicating what should be done to reduce the risks and what to do in an emergency.

2. Work with the school to make sure they are complying with Sabrina's Law. See for a link to the actual law, which is a very easy read.

This includes:
- having a plan in place to make sure the environment is safe for your son (includes reducing the risks)
- having a plan in place to make sure that everyone knows what to do in case of an emergency (Emergency Anaphylaxis Plan)

I have to run - but I will add to this later.


Author:  Ang [ Mon Apr 30, 2007 3:16 pm ]
Post subject: 

I too am experiencing the overwhelming stress of having my son start JK in Sept (as a parent I am scared, but I am also a teacher and know exactly what goes on in schools which has me completely anxious!!!!) ...I set up meetings with principals of our local schools to see which one I felt was best for him. Once I found a school I was happy with, I went ahead and registered back in I just found out on the weekend that the principal who spent the better part of an hour with me, gave me a tour of the school, introduced me to some teachers, etc. will be gone next year (when my son starts)!!! :shock: I feel like I am back at square one having to meet with the new principal and hope she is as progressive about allergies as I found the current one to be...I am panicking!!! I know how difficult this is going to be for us, but I have found that the more I educate myself (and my son) on the topic, research different ideas to use in schools, prepare myself with as many comebacks as I can when my ideas may be turned down, I feel better...HOWEVER, I still can't breathe when I think of walking away from him that first day, but we will muddle through this somehow...remember, the more you can show your face at the school, the better...out of sight out of mind. I know the school you have chosen is a bit of a distance for you, however, any chance you get, try to get in there.

Author:  Storm [ Mon Apr 30, 2007 11:13 pm ]
Post subject: 

Ang wrote:
I am also a teacher and know exactly what goes on in schools which has me completely anxious!!!!

What do you mean by this, from an allergy point of view?

Author:  AmandaG [ Tue May 01, 2007 12:36 am ]
Post subject: 

Thanx Karen and Ang. THe suggestions are all helpful.. I do plan on making another appointment with the allergist well in advance of the school year. :lol:

Author:  KarenOASG [ Tue May 01, 2007 9:34 am ]
Post subject: 

As Ang's post indicates, the best laid plans can go awry. My son started kindergarten last fall, so my DH and I wanted to make sure we were prepared. We met with the vice-principal in April. Then he was made principal. Then he left. Then another VP came in. Then she left. All this between April and August. At that point we didn't even know who the VP and principal would be in September!! I was almost beside myself, but also not surprised. I find schools surprisingly chaotic in how they function.

Finally, near the end of August, we managed to set up a meeting with the new principal, the head of the daycare, the teacher, and the school nurse (who is there 1/2 day a week).

Our best piece of ammunition/education was the letter from our allergist, which we had sent ahead of time and which everyone had a copy of. I think it helped everyone realize that we were not excessively anxious parents, but parents who have a child at serious risk of a life-threatening reaction to some foods, a child who needs extra measures put in place to keep him safe.

I also came prepared with posters of how to administer an EpiPen and EpiPen trainers (gift to school) - both available from . (Ontario schools should have these as part of their Anaphylaxis Resource Kit sent by the Ministry of Education, but who knows what happens to thing sometimes...)

I also made posters of my son's Anaphylaxis Emergency Plan (a variation of ... an_eng.pdf ) and of the signs & symptoms of anaphylaxis - all in fluorescent coloured paper. I also provided Think FAST posters (from Anaphylaxis Canada). I had copies of each of these for the classroom, the staffroom, and my son's file.

And actually I have to do this twice - once for each child.

I also had well-labeled extra EpiPens for each child for the daycare teacher and for the staffroom. (My sons wear their main EpiPen on them.)

We also supplied a box of safe treats for each child in case someone brought something in to the class that my guys couldn't have. Teachers often say that it won't be necessary, but I have learned that it pretty much is. For me, the best surprise is no surprise.

My DH and I stressed that our two main concerns were to (a) reduce the risk - given that my son would be surrounded by 20-25 children consuming his allergens (dairy and egg - the class is peanut and nut-free) every day and (b) make sure that those taking care of him knew how to recognize the signs & symptoms of anaphylaxis and were trained to administer the EpiPen. And to not hesitate to administer the EpiPen.

We all worked together to figure out how to reduce the risks without unduly burdening the other kids and what they could bring for lunch. The principal sent home a letter saying that peanut and nut products would not be allowed in the classroom, and asking that parents not send in spillable milk products. (If your principal sends such a letter home, I would advise asking if you can see it before it goes out, in order to make sure it makes sense. Our letter was a bit garbled, unfortunately.)

The school nurse took care of the EpiPen training (we live in Quebec), but I did go over things again with the daycare teacher who supervises the kids at lunch and also for the afternoon snack (in Quebec we have all-day kindergarten from the start - no JK).

Anyway, it is a lengthy process, and sometimes you meet hurdles, but as I said, if you come prepared, try to stay calm, and do your best to keep the lines of communication open, things will progress. It is very frustrating when you meet people who don't take you seriously (like our old principal - for 3 years - grrr), but you will also meet valuable allies, and those are the people to cultivate.

Also keep in mind that it's a work in progress. You need to constantly remind people, constantly do positive reinforcement... it never really ends. But kindergarten is often the hardest, because the kids are so young, and parents are often new to the system, and there are so many unknowns... (At least, so far kindergarten has been the hardest - we don't have teenagers yet!)


Author:  gem [ Tue May 01, 2007 5:34 pm ]
Post subject: 

I opted to not place my DD in JK. I feel like she needs another year to mature about her allergy ( at a recent trip to the dr she announced that she was allergic to peanuts - which she is not!). I am a JK/Sk teacher and, like Ang, I am nervous about things like:

What is the plan when there is a supply teacher- who will be available to admister the Epi?
Will the teacher remember to bring her Epis to the gym, the library, assemblies, outside, French?
Will she ever go with volunteer readers, if so, will someone be nearby with an Epi?

I feel like I need another year to really train DD about her allergy and am hoping she will mature over the next year.

Also, I am a worrier. :D

Author:  ethansmom [ Tue May 01, 2007 10:21 pm ]
Post subject: 

at a recent trip to the dr she announced that she was allergic to peanuts - which she is not!

Hi gem -- I totally respect your decision to keep your daughter out of school for another year, I just wanted to say that I don't actually see this as a problem. To help make it real easy for my son, we tell him that he's not to eat peanuts or tree nuts and that he's allergic to both (even though at this time he's only been tested for peanut). He's got to stay away from all processed nuts anyway because of the cross-contam. issue so I figure the rule -- no peanuts OR nuts of any kind -- makes it real easy for him and for anyone caring for him. I don't want them deciding that this nut or that nut is fine, but this one is not. Plain and simple: no peanuts or nuts!! :wink: As he gets older and is better able to comprehend the intricacies of his food allergy, and old enough to clearly advocate for himself, we'll give him more responsibility and detailed information.
Will the teacher remember to bring her Epis to the gym, the library, assemblies, outside, French?

We're planning on getting my son an E-belt and the only way I would feel comfortable sending my son off to JK this September, is knowing that he'll be wearing it and having his epinephrine on his person at all times. That would take care of worries about teachers remembering to bring it anywhere -- you could do the same for your daughter when she attends.

Author:  _Susan_ [ Tue May 01, 2007 10:39 pm ]
Post subject: 

One of the major issues we encountered in JK was the amount of candy offered to the students. Licorice and popsicles were not concidered food. :roll:
After a few incidents were our daughter would consume the foods knowing full well it was against the rule (she didn't want to say no to her teacher), we instituded a new rule.
The family rule is that she can only eat food that mommy or daddy have OK'd. Her standard line when offered food was "My mommy and daddy won't let me." This absolved her of any responsibility and she was technically not disobeying her teacher but was simply stating a fact.
We made sure to be present at any event where food might be present. We always brought something comparable for her.
She did always wear an E-belt so having her EpiPen handy was not an issue.

Author:  ethansmom [ Wed May 02, 2007 12:28 am ]
Post subject: 

_Susan_ wrote:
The family rule is that she can only eat food that mommy or daddy have OK'd. Her standard line when offered food was "My mommy and daddy won't let me." This absolved her of any responsibility and she was technically not disobeying her teacher but was simply stating a fact.

Yes -- I just want to clarify my comment. This is our rule too. The message given to the school will be the same. If the food didn't come from home, he's not to eat it. We've already started prepping him with your "my mommy and daddy won't let me" answer Susan. My comment was speaking more generally to people he might meet along the way who will take it upon themselves to presume -- oh, this is a cashew (for example) -- he can have this, it's not a peanut -- or that he'll erroneously make that presumption.

Author:  _Susan_ [ Wed May 02, 2007 6:48 am ]
Post subject: 

I think your wise to lump all nuts together. Like you said will they know the difference? Will they know that Goober nuts are peanuts? Best to say all nuts are bad at this time.
I just wanted to say that we had to remove the responsibility from her in turning down treats.
It's funny, she will turn down offers from Grandma and Santa and those whom she knows love her, but those she does not have that deep trust in, she will graciously accept.
I guess we don't worry about offending those which we feel safe with.

Author:  gem [ Wed May 02, 2007 9:37 pm ]
Post subject: 

Great idea about lumping all nuts together. I am going to do this.

I know DD will have to carry her Epi with her at school . At this time she is very resistant about even me bringing her Epis and is quite hostile about her allergy. I am hoping another year to mature will be beneficial.

Author:  Ang [ Wed May 02, 2007 10:40 pm ]
Post subject: 

You wanted to know from an allergy perspective why I am so concerned...I can tell you that with the hectic pace and organization of a day in the classroom (or school for that matter) with simple things such as attendance, recess, lunch orders, assemblies, or the more serious such as parents who "drop in" to talk, behaviour issues, meetings...etc., one of the last things on a teacher's mind is what so and so can or cannot eat (unfortunately :( )(this is strictly my opinion and experiences!) main concern is the area of supply teachers. This is where the real seriousness of allergies concern me because the intensity of the issues of a classroom are tenfold for this individual. Volunteers, student teachers, etc, also are a concern as they would not (likely) be trained in using an epipen. As I said before, constant reminders and being present in the school as much as you can are your best one principal said to me "...we have 10 kids in this school who are anaphylactic...see that girl in the pink shirt...she is one, her mom is always in here worried..." Yes, her mom may have always been in there "worried", but I think it was interesting that out of all of the 10 kids, he was able to identify her, her classroom, her name and what she was allergic to! I think I will be a "worrier" too-it seems to have worked!

Author:  Storm [ Thu May 03, 2007 10:25 am ]
Post subject: 

Thanks for the reply. It is a bit worrying that teachers are so overworked but I can tell you that it gets easier after JK and SK. My son is in Grade 3 now and from my experience, those 2 years were the hardest. It gets easier once they are older.

Author:  ficbot [ Thu May 03, 2007 4:54 pm ]
Post subject: 

As a teacher, I know that even when we are concerned and aware, it can just be really, really hard to monitor. There are SO many kids! You just can't have your eye on every single one of them at every moment. I can't tell you how many times, for example, the parent had complained that something was not in their bags when we are sure we saw them put it in. In 99% of these cases, what we actually saw was the child go out into the hallway and go toward their bag, at which point we turned our attention to someone else who needed us. We never actually saw it go INTO the bag. ame with lunches: did so-and-so wash their hands? Well, we sent them into the bathroom to do it. And then they came back. So...yes? If we had to stand by the sink and tick off every kid when they were done washing, we would never be able to do anything else! In the classes where we do know there is an issue, we do try and stay on top of things. But can we promise 100% vigilance at every second of the day? No. With one adult and 30 kids, it just can't be done.

Page 1 of 2 All times are UTC - 4 hours
Powered by phpBB® Forum Software © phpBB Group