Talking Allergies

Son given food without permission!!
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Author:  Becky [ Thu Dec 17, 2009 9:19 pm ]
Post subject:  Son given food without permission!!

Some days are easier than others.

This week has been hard with Kindergarten, there was a field trip & class party, both of which involved food and so I attended both and was very diligent about bringing DS his own food etc. Today the kids watched a movie and were given popcorn (Kernels prepackaged, I have contacted the company in the past and feel that it is safe). No one asked me for permission, and I'm quite upset. The teacher felt bad, and passed the buck 'I had to leave the class for a few minutes and the assistants must have given it out', but she knew there was popcorn around, didn't call me and didn't give them instructions. (previously I brought some from home for movie days). The assistants know about his anaphylaxis, and that he brings everything from home - even water! I could bang my head against the wall. The kids wer crowded together in the dark, if DS started to ich or break out in hives I know no one would notice.

DH is upset and wants to set up a meeting with the teacher. Since I'm there twice a day (every drop off and pick up), and talk about food things CONSTANTLY I'm surprised this is necessary.

Author:  Noha [ Fri Dec 18, 2009 8:33 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Son given food without permission!!


I am so sorry that this happened, and I hope that your son is okay. This is the type of thing we constantly experienced at daycare with our little girl, though for us things ended up badly, with multiple hospital visits. I must say, I am not surprised though. Staff in schools and daycares just do not know enough about reading labels. They do not realize that just because you called the company and the product is safe today, does not mean that the batch the school has is not made in a facility that contains allergens. So they think that it's okay. And some of them probably do not think that popcorn would have peanuts, because they have a severe lack of awareness when it comes to production lines and manufacturing practices. Similar to our problem, staff often neglected to read labels on tomato soup, assuming "why would tomato soup have milk??" where I had to remind them that the company that does tomato soup also does cream of chicken soup, and cream of mushroom soup, and those both contain milk. In our case, they actually gave our daughter cream of mushroom soup. She is severely allergic to milk.

If I were you, I would be angry too, and I absolutely would get a meeting ASAP with the principal, not just the teacher and the assistants. They need to understand the implications of their actions; you are not asking for the impossible; you're just asking to be informed before they feed him. When in doubt, it's better not to feed him than to put his life in danger. No one is as diligent as us about our kids.

Best of luck to you.

Author:  _Susan_ [ Fri Dec 18, 2009 9:19 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Son given food without permission!!

Yep! The principal develops the policies the teacher reports to him/her. Do not go in with both guns blazing. Approach it from the perspective of, "This was a near miss" and "what can be done in the future to avoid this type of problem?"

Let those who choose to hold events such as these be the ones who problem solve to make it safe. It is only then that they will realize how difficult it can be and perhaps they will decide that it is simply not worth it. Certainly point out areas of concern as you have indicated, dark room, possible sharing by students, cross contamination, several people involved in handing out food, teacher wasn't aware of it so how could she keep it safe? What would they have done in an emergency?

Teach the school in the same way that they teach our children-lead them to the answers, but don't spoon feed them the answers. :happydance

BTW- this happened to us when our daughter was in JK. Here's my thread viewtopic.php?f=37&t=405
As you can see, I have mellowed in the years. :freak

Author:  Becky [ Fri Dec 18, 2009 9:58 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Son given food without permission!!

Thanks for the replies.

Noha, just to clarify, I've never given the school permission to give Kernels or any popcorn, so there's no way they could have thought it was ok. We have had it at home, and it just stopped me from having a total heart attack, althought I was still livid.

Susan, thanks for the link to your old thread. People just don't get it, do they?

Here's the problem. The school has a 'plan' in place (updated binder, poster with ana kids pic & info in office & classroom, epipens in office and in our case class as well) and I've spoken with the teacher at length and she has been good (her brother is PA), I send everything from home and there is a bag safe snacks in the class for DS.

I lent the epi training kit to the teacher before school started, and her & the 2 assistants watched it, as well as the principal and possibly others in the office.

~ Oct, Enter new assistant, assigned to a child with behaviour and learning issues. The assistant is VERY grumpy, dislikes young kids, doesn't spend time with the child she's assigned to, makes inappropriate/rude comments, left a child in a busy intersection during a field trip (DH had to bolt back from the middle of the group to get him), and the one who had DS colour a peanut and list 'peanut' on his personal list of healthy foods!!!

I asked DS who gave him the popcorn, and you guessed it - it was her. Frankly, I don't even want her to help him with colouring, let alone anything hazardous. Of course, there were other adults in the rooom, SOMEONE should have noticed.

The cross contamination issue is a problem though, there was popcorn EVERYWHERE and I believe the packages had a milk & soy warning. I hate shared food/giving out treats. It makes me crazy! :banghead

Author:  _Susan_ [ Fri Dec 18, 2009 11:58 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Son given food without permission!!

So then principal needs to tweak the plan and perhaps the assistant!

Get it on record that thei incident happened.

Author:  Momtobunches [ Fri Dec 18, 2009 2:31 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Son given food without permission!!

Wow, wow, wow. I know exactly how you feel! My son casually mentioned coming home from kindergarten one day that he got to eat a rice krispie square at school today for a girl's birthday! I just about drove off the road.... you are right when you say it feels like a heart attack! I had all the same measures in place, but this arrogant Mom - whose own daughter had a nut allergy, figured she knew how to deal with my son's milk allergy and told him it was OK to eat. Turns out it WAS OK to eat, but that wasn't the point at all! His teacher had been instructed that he was to never, ever eat food that has not been sent from home. Even after 4 years, I'm still angry about it.

My son is now in Grade 4, and I've gotten very involved with our school council and am slowly implementing changes in how the school handles food celebrations. Today is popcorn day at our school as well (we're in Alberta too), and I didn't get any reminders from his teacher that I would need to send an alternate snack. I guess she's figured out by now that I'm already on it, and he's old enough now to know that he is NEVER allowed to eat food at school unless I have sent it / seen it.

If you need reinforcements, I am one of the local AAIA trainers in the Calgary area, and have some additional resources. The best one I have seen is the "Anapylaxis in School Settings" consensus document that was put out by Anaphylaxis Canada, AAIA and the Allergists, and it states right in there that a very basic rule is that any child with a food allergy should NOT be given food at school unless it has been approved ahead of time. All the schools should have this in a kit that was sent by the provincial government last year.

Take deep breaths .... like the above posts said, don't go in with guns blazing, but do use it as an opportunity to make them listen to you!!!

Good luck....

Author:  BC2007 [ Sun Dec 20, 2009 2:28 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Son given food without permission!!

Becky, I am so thankful the situation turned out ok. Others do not get how an 'oops' moment for them could be catastrophic for our families. Don't feed our kids, don't feed our kids, don't feed our kids. That should be our motto. :verymad I totally agree with you that this could have had a very different outcome due to the facts that the lights were off .
I dread school age even with a good school.

Another example of people not getting it...
Yesterday at hockey another mom brought chocolate. There is a girl on our daughters' team with a peanut allergy so I'm always very intuned to food 'talk' even if our son isn't eating it. The mom told me she handed it out and let the girls know it was peanut free . I said are you sure it's nut free. She said yes. I asked what kind of chocolate it was and she said Belgium. I don't know about you but that sent huge warning bells off in my head. I asked again if it was nut free and she said yes. I said (like a broken record) it is marked nut free right? She said well no, so again I said is it or isn't it marked nut free. She said it doesn't say it contains nuts so it is nut free!!!!!!!! OMG, luckily the girl didn't eat it as she is 10 and old enough to know never to eat anything not from her parents buts still......people just don't get it.

Author:  paige H [ Sun Dec 20, 2009 4:26 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Son given food without permission!!

Thank goodness that girl did not eat the chocolate. As someone who ate chocolate before the may contain years I can say from "experimenting" any chocolate not made in north america I don't touch. So sad to have an adult proclaim it to be nut free!
It reminds me when I was in grade 10 I had a very!! bad reaction when a friend offered me a butter tart. I said no she pressed and said her mom NEVER put nuts as she and her sister hated them and her mom told her she "NEVER" put nuts in "JUST RASINS" I had one mini taster bite. Thought I was going to die, at moments wished I would have. As it turns out her mom thought it was good for them to eat the nuts so she had them chopped so small -THEY- could not notice them.
I guess I learned, I did not trust my true gut instinct (It was screaming NO!)

This was a looooong time ago people didn't understand allergy like today. I know there are still people who fit in this category :scratchy but more people do understand.

Kids need to have a clear who to trust list. Not everyone can be on the list! If a certain friend or family member does not get it! Their not on the list.
Eg: Love my mother and mother-in-law they don't quite get it. (not on the list!)
Sister who has allergic child (she is on list!)
That is how I do it, not many people are on my list. As I write this it is sounding mean, I don't mean it that way but if you don't live with allergies they can be easy to miss. I just like to read all ing. my self.

Author:  BC2007 [ Sun Dec 20, 2009 9:29 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Son given food without permission!!

Becky, what did your son say when you talked with him again about having taken and eaten food given by your or your husband? I imagine it is very difficult, especially at his age to bring it up in such a way that he understands how serious the situation was while not making him feel like you are angry at him. How do you deal with teaching a 5 year old that they do not have to listen to an authority figure when it comes to food/safety etc.?

Author:  _Susan_ [ Sun Dec 20, 2009 10:03 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Son given food without permission!!

Becky, it's so hard to stand up to an authority figure, someone you really want to please. We had to stop telling pur daughter to say, "No" and instead, "remind" the teacher of our family rule. :roll:

It might seem like semantics to some but to a 4 or 5 year old, there's a big difference!

Author:  Becky [ Mon Dec 21, 2009 12:12 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Son given food without permission!!

Thanks for your replies everyone, it really helps to have people who understand. It amazes me how common it is for these things to happen though, I've talked to friends with allergic children and everyone has a similar story. Why does it seem so hard for some adults to understand 'NO FOOD UNLESS IT'S FROM HOME - EVER'? Many are good, but all it takes is one teacher/aid/friend's parent or evern relative to put your child's life at risk. Some are downright offended, or at the very least find it inconventient. :banghead <--- great emoticon btw.

Momtobunches, thanks for sharing your rice krispies story. Thanks for the reminder about that documant, I have it saved somewhere and I agree, it is excellent. The school does have a 'good' anaphylaxis plan in place and there is a poster on the wall in the classroom & office with his picture that clearly states 'only food brought from home'. It obviously needs tweaking though. I tried to contact the teacher the next morning, but everyone was already gone for the holidays. I'll have to address this in the new year.

BC2007, the chocolate story is scary!! The well intended (but dense!!) adults really scare me, thethought of 'it's only a piece of white bread, there are no nuts in it' (but it comes from a small bakery with nuts everywhere) makes me panic. I am eternally grateful that nothing bad happened to DS. But having nothing happen will make certain kinds of people take things less seriously. There's no way around this, of course we want to avoid an incident at all costs, but there needs to be a way to get the point across.

PaigeH, what a terrifying experience!! Baked goods are the scariest. Our list for our son is very short (me & DH). There is a friend of an allergic child that I trust, I aboslutely don't trust family members since they don't get it. Your post doesn't sound mean at all, I feel the same way. I also don't trust other people to read labels, since warnings aren't always clear, or with ingredients.

Author:  Becky [ Mon Dec 21, 2009 12:20 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Son given food without permission!!

BC2007, He knows, but is a shy & quiet kind of guy, and the aid who gave it to him is a very gruff bully, who barks at the kids like a drill sargent, and even lectures them about how 'adults are in charge of kids, but kids aren't in charge of other kids'. :roll:

Susan, I really like your idea! It's so much less confrontational.

I will address this with the school in the new year.

One problem is that some parents of allergic children are quite lax, and allow them to have food that isn't from home and still go out for Timbits or ice cream. It makes it confusing for the school, there are 2 kindergarten classes, and I think there's an ana child in each. If one is allowed to eat anything and the other has strict rules it somewhat undermines our attempts and as a result we come across as overprotective and crazy. :|

Author:  BC2007 [ Mon Dec 21, 2009 12:48 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Son given food without permission!!

We had to stop telling pur daughter to say, "No" and instead, "remind" the teacher of our family rule. :roll:

Susan I really like what you said. It keeps our children from appearing to be confrontational or undermining an authority figure. Instead by bringing up the family rule the responsibility is put back on the adult/teacher etc..

Author:  gwentheeditor [ Mon Dec 21, 2009 1:33 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Son given food without permission!!

Susan, I've always liked that approach. That way the child doesn't unintentionally come across as being difficult.

Becky, sure sounds like there are issues with that educ. assistant. As Susan advises, document. I wouldn't make the recap super long, just the main facts and the breach of the ana. plan.

Sigh, I think it all comes back once again to food as rewards in the classroom. We so need to get past that.

FYI, this could be helpful: AL just posted a Laurie Harada column on how to talk to school officials -

Author:  BC2007 [ Tue Jan 05, 2010 1:20 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Son given food without permission!!

How did the meeting with the teacher/principal go Becky?

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