Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Peanut Allergy Questions and Answers

I am still trying to make progress on some tasks around the house that are getting out-of-control. I am also behind on answering emails. I decided to take a break from my cleaning and organizing to answer emails. I quickly realized it might be better to answer some of my blog questions in a post instead of in replies to emails. All of the questions were asked in Allergy posts during Food Allergy Awareness Week. If you missed those posts, you can view them by selecting the Allergy label on the left side of my blog.

RLR asked:
Q1. Will you be packing lunches every day? (I'm assuming that if he's the only PA kid there, he won't sit at the 'allergy table' during lunch. Some preschools here have a special table for allergy kids that stay for lunch bunch. Don't know how they handle it in public school, since this is our first experience with my son in K and my daughter in 3yo preschool).
Q2. Are you more concerned about his classmates (and their parents) having a more through understanding (as compared to everyone else at the orientation)?

A1. Yes, I plan on packing a lunch for my son everyday. I hope he stays away from the cafeteria line. Right now, Peanut Butter and Jelly sandwiches are a lunch option everyday. The school is setting up a peanut-free table for him. I am debating what to do about sending Sunbutter and Jelly sandwiches. The principal was okay with it. I am nervous about it. Sunbutter is my son's first choice for lunch every day.
A2 I am most concerned about his classmates and their parents. However, the kindergarten classes do a lot together. The school is going to send home a letter to all of the kindergarten parents at the Kindergarten assessment. I know I cannot educate everyone but I will share information with anyone I can.

Trisha asked:
Q1 Have you used the ready-to-go benadryl dispensers?
Q2 We don't have the inhaler yet, still the nebulizer. When did you guys make the switch?

A1 I have not used the ready-to-go Benedryl dispensers. I should probably get some. I haven't even checked them out. I prefer the liquid because I think it gets absorbed into the body quicker.
A2 We didn't make the switch, really. We have both. I guess we are transitioning a bit. This will be helpful for when David starts school. However, he is allergic to grass and we live in an area that claims to be the "Grass Seed Capital of the World". So, we do daily nebulizer treatments as a preventative measure during "Grass season".

RLR said:
We have meds (EpiPens, Benadryl) in our daughter's backpack, and an extra set in a makeup-type case that we use when we aren't hauling the entire backpack. We like the pre-dosed Benadryl and Benadryl tabs, but it's not always practical since our daughter's dose changes as she grows.
Q1 Will the new school let him keep his meds in the classroom?
Q2 And, at what age did he understand it was medicine?

A1: The medicine plan at this point is to have his Epipen with him at all times. "With him" meaning that it is with an assigned adult that is at his location. That means- when he is in the classroom, his teacher will have it; when he is on the playground, an assigned duty will have it; when he is at PE, the PE instructor will have it, etc. All of the assigned people will be Epipen trained at the beginning of the year. There is also a school Epipen in the health room. His inhaler and benedryl will be in the health room.
A2: What a great question! I am having to think about this. I'd guess it happened around 3. I don't know. We have always been very open and honest about the purpose of the medicine. We were careful not to scare him. The book Allie the Allergic Elephant was excellent for opening up discussion. We pretty much explained that if he ate something with peanuts in it, he would have trouble breathing. As he has gotten older he has grown in his understanding of that. I was a bit surprised when he brought up dying in his Allergy Interview. I am glad he understands the seriousness, of course. Back to the medicine- around 4 we showed him the trainer and explained the Epipen more. He calls it his "shot."

aerotatt asked:
Q1: Have you found out whether you can choose the teacher or not?
By the way, thanks for reading. I loved getting your comment. (aerotatt also has a incoming Kindergartner at our school.)
A1: I haven't pushed the school to determine David's teacher. I think I could because food allergies are covered under the Disabilities Act and the school pre-determined the teacher for other students with special needs. I am extremely ready to know his teacher and begin working with her. However, I haven't pushed that. I have been told (by teachers not administration) that you can request at teacher at registration. (And, yes, I wonder if I should be pushing this issue but I want to pick my battles carefully and start on the right foot.)

I hope that was helpful to some and interesting to everyone else.

Check out this great post about starting Kindergarten with Allergies:
Entering School With Food Allergies


RLR said...

Thanks for taking some time out to answer all of these questions!

Trisha said...

Look at you answering all those questions!
The benadryl dispensers I was talking about are the liquid... they are just pre-measured and you twist the top off and are good to go!

Have I mentioned that you are such a good mama? :)

He And Me + 3 said...

Great job Jane Anne. This is so important before sending your guy to school.