4. Stocking the classroom with a generous supply of safe foods (preferably non-perishable).
5. Getting involved in child’s classroom (chaperoning trips, room parent etc…).
6. Maintaining clear and consistent communication with school staff at all times.
7. Educating school personnel about allergies and treatment measures.
8. Teaching child to self advocate (in a developmentally appropriate way).
The last point about empowering one’s child to advocate for their own needs is crucial. The more aware the child is, the better prepared he will be to accept ownership and management of his food allergy later on in life. The younger the child, the greater the onus on the adults. As the child matures educate him or her about the food allergies. Parents can teach their child to: read labels to avoid allergens; avoid sharing food; politely decline food offers; wash hands regularly; recognize the symptoms of a reaction; and, most importantly, communicate immediately when a reaction starts.
Who’s responsible for the safety of the food allergic child: the school or the parents? Both! All parties share in the obligation to keep the child safe. Each one has a vital role to play. Proactive and reactive protocols, collaboration, and communication are essential. Today, there are more food allergy management resources available than ever. With careful, methodical planning and constant vigilance, even students with severe food allergies can thrive.
References: FAAN – Children With Food Allergies Targeted By Bullies KidswithFoodAllergies – Managing Food Allergies at School “Children With Food Allergies Targeted By Bullies” Annals of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology, the scientific journal of the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI). Sicherer SH, Furlong TJ, DeSimone J, Sampson HA. “The U.S. Peanut and Tree Nut Registry: Characteristics of Reactions in Schools and Day Care,” J Pediatrics 4(2001): 560 – 565.
Useful Resources: 504 plans – Excellent resource from the foodallergyadovocate.com Food Allergy Action Plan (FAAP) – Emergency Action plan from FAAN (foodallergy.org) Food Allergy Bullying Prevention – FAAN’s be a PAL peer education program Food Allergy School Discussion Guide – Helpful tips from Kidswithfoodallergies.org State Allergy Management Guidelines listed by state from FAAN (foodallergy.org) National school food allergy management guidelines – National School Board Association Guidelines
Tamar Warga is a mother of 4 food allergic children and the author of two books: A Taste of Sweetness- Rosh Hashana Cookbook and A Taste of Freedom- Passover Cookbook. She blogs at Kosherfoodallergies.blogspot.com