Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Works-for-Me Wednesday: Back to School with Allergies

This week's theme for Works-For-Me Wednesday is "Back to School". When I think about school starting, all I can think about is what it will be like handling my son's peanut allergy at school. He starts Kindergarten this year.

Not everyone reading this has a child with food allergies. It's likely that you know someone that does. Let me tell you what works for me.

What works for me when handling food allergies at school (whether it's your child or someone else's) is a good attitude.

When I tell someone about my son's allergy, I am met with many reactions. The news has been greeted with:
- sympathy
- lack of understanding
- frustration
- sharing of worst case scenarios
- apathy
- a good attitude

Having a good attitude about a child's allergy is the best thing you can offer the child and the parents of the child.

A good attitude is also the best thing for the parent of an allergic child to have with the child and with others who may or may not understand.

For those that don't have children with food allergies:

There are children with food allergies at your child's school. If you haven't heard about them yet, chances are you will.

It is not easy to have a food allergy. However, it is quite possible to make the child with allergies feel accepted and normal.

Talk to you child about food allergies. This is easily done if your school has a peanut-free table or something similar. Express a good attitude to your children about the food allergy (or peanut-free table). This encourages your child to be accepting and have a good attitude.

Be willing to make concessions for changes in food policies with class snacks or parties. Make changes with a good attidue - expressing appreciation to the teacher.

Consider sending non-food birthday treats. That is always helpful to those dealing with food allergies.

For those that have children with food allergies:

The following list explains some of the ways I am beginning to manage my son's food allergy at school. (Let me know if you want me to email you copies of any of my documents or if you just want to talk about my experience.)

I met with my son's allergist. I asked for and received a Food Allergy Treatment plan from the doctor to give to the school.

I met with the school principal and nurse. I came to the meeting with a written list of concerns. I approached the meeting (and each coversation) with a good attitude. I recognize that the principal and nurse want to take care of my son and keep him safe. I let them know that I appreciate them.

I brought an example of a Food Allergy Letter to Parents for the classroom. I willingly offered to help tailor the letter for my son's class and the school.

I made sure the Principal and Nurse know that I am available and willing to do whatever necessary to keep my son safe. I made sure they know how to contact me (this included my email address and phone number). I made sure they know that I appreciate any concerns or questions they have.

When I brought my concerns to the Principal, my only demand (and word seems strong - but it's accurate) was that we do whatever we needed to do to keep my son safe. I brought an attitude that expressed: "We can find a solution that works well for both my son and the school."

We have a lot more to accomplish in the weeks before school starts. My son has the first severe food allergy at the school. One thing I know for sure - my good attitude makes a difference.

Have a good attitude about food allergies. No one- not the allergic child, the parents of that child, or the rest of the school - benefits from negativity.

I am posting this as a part of Works-For-Me Wednesday. Stop by We are That Family for other Back To School ideas.

*While I was writing this post, I got an email from the school requesting some information to have on hand for school registration. What perfect timing! You see, registration is tomorrow. The school was checking their to-do list and realized they didn't have something... something that I provided them with in June. They emailed me. And, I think it's great. I am thankful they are working with me.


He & Me + 3 said...

We have a very accomodating school too. It is nice to know that others are concerned for the safety of our children too.

Anonymous said...

Thank you! "What-Works-For-Me..." is great. I appreciate your list of things you are doing in preparation for your lil guy's first day. My daughter will be attending kindergarten in the fall as well. She, too, has severe food allergies.

I think what I am most worried about is the parent who minimizes her health issues. At k-round-up, a few of the mothers were getting upset about food restrictions and precautions. Mothers. I would go out of my way to protect ANY child. You are right, though, keep a positive attitude. All will be fine. :-) Good luck!

Elaine at Matters of the Heart) said...

That is so great they are working with you. My guy will start pre-school in September, which is a little scary. Would love you to email me copies of anything you found useful dealing with the school.

Liz (Loving Mom 2 Boys) said...

What a great way to look at it. Your attitude does make a huge difference in how your son will be treated - I wish more parents would remember that in ALL situations!!

McCrakensx4 said...

I hope that all goes well. So glad that the school is working with you. Great post....

Alicia said...

I'm sure it's so reassuring to know that the school is working with you to ensure he is safe!!! What a blessing!

Amanda said...

good information shared! thanks for sharing

my son is starting at a brand new school this year and they are going nut free. it goes to be a little tricky at first but I'm willing to do it to help keep other kids safe.

The allergy labels would be perfect for your sons lunch bag. They also have medical bands that might be good for him too.

Rachel said...

You know - your approach applies to so many areas of our lives! A good attitude can really make the difference between cooperation, or resistance. And in this case, could make all the difference for your son.

Thanks for opening my eyes a bit more about what I can do to help kids feel more included.

Really insightful and well-worded post - thanks!

Amy Jo said...

What a great post. I don't even have children and I'm much more aware just being in public with situations that could harm someone, even an adult with allergies like this. Thank you!

Beth E. said...

What an encouragement that your son's school has such a good attitude, and is willing to work with you. We did NOT have good experiences at Bo's schools. They pretty much said it was NOT their responsibility, but BO'S. That he had to be aware what not to eat, and they didn't feel it was their responsibility to to anything! After a horrible meeting with them, I packed Bo's lunch from then, on. I couldn't trust them.

Now that he's going to college, I'm praying that the college will me more accommodating!

Your Frugal Friend, Niki said...

Great post! My son has allergies to dairy and soy so I feel for you. Luckily his preschool (where he will go for 2 years) is a peanut-free facility because of other students who have serious allergies to nuts. Not the same as our allergies, but this makes them very understanding.


Stop by and visit me over at Free2BeFrugal.

aerotatt said...

I want to talk to you about the peanut free table. We pack Landon's lunches due to pickiness. If we get a chance to get them together to meet each other before school starts maybe we can get them to be lunch-buddies.

Anonymous said...

Your attitude is contagious. I keep learning so much from you. Thanks for sharing and enlightening those of us who don't have a child with a food allergy.

Mandy V said...

Hello. Thanks for the Back to School tips. My daughter is severly allergic to peanuts, and also allergic to eggs and soy. She will attending Kindergarden in September and I am terrified of this. My biggest fear is not that she would eat anything she shouldn't, it that the teachers and school doesn't seem aware of the food allergy situation. If you can, can please forward me the documents that you provided to your school. It makes it more difficult that I work full-time and not being able to volunteer to be class mom or go on field trips. Thanks. Looking forward to more tips.

Crayon said...

Hi, great post! I was wondering if you could email me the documents you used for your son's school.