How do you prepare your food allergy kiddo for school? For me, there are no set rules and it seems to change every year. Specifically for me, our Principal has changed twice since we started and we now have a new priest. That means, more and more education on food allergies. And, while my little man seems aware of his food allergies, he is not scared like me...which is great...but still scary for me. I am told by most of my readers that this is their normal reactions as well...glad little one not completely freaked out by their food allergies like mommy, but still makes them scared even more...if that is possible.
While I do not have a "list" to check off when going back to school, I do have the "list" I created for you that I completed this year. Hope it helps!
1. Had private meeting with new teacher to discuss my little man's food allergies, how they may be different from some "low key" food allergies she may have had in the past, what our the symptoms, what are some signs, and for each one (peanuts, tree nuts, eggs, milk, strawberries, and kiwi) what to do if he comes in contact and/or consumes. I bring my practice Epipen jr. to show her how to use it, give her copies of all the written emergency plans (off of www.foodallergy.org), I try to win her over with my personality :) and answer any questions she may have. I review the benedryl instructions, show her the classroom package I have put together for her (freezer ziplock with epipen jr, benedryl, contact information written on the outside with instructions, and I give her the school PDF file from www.foodallergy.org for schools to review...for some light reading. I tell her there are food allergy "packages" in the lunch room and office as well and that the after care has one they keep on them at all times too.
2. I have a private meeting with the new principal and do the entire same thing as the teacher with her, except I give her a copy of the Letter from the Principal that I have copied and added to..also from www.foodallergy.org. It states that no one in my little man's classroom can pack nut products for lunch or snack and that the classroom is now nut free. She agrees to sign it and sent it home to all the parents in my little man's classroom. I am still waiting to hear about this. While for the most part we get a lot of support on the food allergies, there are a couple parents that get selfish...I mean, upset when they cannot pack pb&j sandwiches for their children...I will never get this since they are quite aware that this can kill my son and this is a private Christian school, but I continue to pray and mock them to my friends to feel better. :)
3. I make 4 packages as described under #1 for quick use and access to the epipen and benedryl and take them the first day and I also make my little one aware where they are located. A picture of my little man is on the outside of the packages.
4. This weekend I made 2 dozen allergy friendly cupcakes and wrapped them individually in ziplock bags and placed them all in 2 deep freezer ziplock bags. These puppies last the whole year and are used during birthday parties and celebrations where items (even without nuts) are brought in that may contain milk and/or eggs. They are the go-to treat for my son and the teachers seem to like this. My little one can have Pillsbury vanilla icing and I just grab 2 of these and the cupcakes and the teachers keep them in the freezer in the teacher lounge for quick and easy access. They take 20 seconds in the microwave with a slap of icing and whalah! Plus, they are my little man's favorite! That way, I feel a little better knowing that others are eating treats in front of him that he cannot have...and most times....really wants.
5. I also made an updated list of food allergies and what foods most likely will contain them and mail to all the other teachers with my little man's picture on the paper. Even though this is a small community and a small school, and the teachers are the same this year...this will spark their memory from their summer off of the food allergy boy that goes to their school :) (although, I have heard of 3 new nut allergic children joining our school this year..hmmmm...).
6. I also have not had time, but do plan to speak to our new priest as well since he seems to be really involved in the school activities this year.
School starts tomorrow. I am sad and happy all at the same time. I look across the table and see the school outfits and new shoes laying out, but my fear of my little man having an allergic reaction while away from me will always be at the front of my mind,thoughts. I am proud, however, to say, thanks to the support of his school, we have had two years in a row with no major allergic reaction...meaning no epipen. Let's pray that we make it thru another! Good luck to you and your family this school year. My only advice is to plan, educate, pray, educate, and be proactive.