Well, parents, it’s that time again, back to school. Back to making lunches, doing homework, running to soccer practice, ballet lessons and so much more. Of course, if you have a child with food allergies this can be twice as hard. As a mom I know, we worry about everything. To have a child with food allergies you worry even more. Is there going to be a child in his class with a peanut butter sandwich, what if they have a birthday and someone brings in cupcakes without knowing my child has an anaphylactic reaction to eggs?
These are legitimate concerns, and to make life a little bit easier and lessen those worries here are some ways to combat food allergy reactions when your child is not at home under your supervision.
- Get your child a medical alert identification bracelet or necklace. Make sure that your child’s allergies are listed so that it would be clear to anyone assisting your child of what the allergic condition is.
- Talk with your child’s school staff about what action plan the school has in place for students with food allergies. If there is no plan, offer to lead a committee on designing an action plan, there are other children in the school with food allergies too. With the number of food allergy diagnosis on the rise, more children have food related allergic condition than not. A suitable place to learn more about food allergies and how to cope with adolescent food allergic conditions is FAACT foodallergyawareness.org or FARE https://www.foodallergy.org. These groups have exceptional resources.
- Have your child help pack snacks and lunches. This allows your child to understand what foods are harmful and what foods are safe. It may sound like a no brainer, but when kids can be a part of the solution the information will stick, allowing them to make better judgements when you are not around to ensure they are safe.
- Along with a medical alert bracelet think about putting the allergic information on the inside of your child’s lunch box. This is important for young children just starting out in school. Teachers, or aides will be assisting your child during lunch and if they have forgotten about your child’s allergic condition this can be a good quick reminder.
- After school activities can be a challenge as well. Team sports typically will have a parent assigned to bring snacks and drinks for after practice. This would be a fantastic opportunity at the beginning of the season to speak with the coach and other parents about food allergies in general. Other parents will have the same concerns about their child’s allergies, take this time to make a list with everyone’s suggestions for acceptable snack ideas. This will also take the challenge out of deciding what to bring for snack for everyone.
- If your child has been prescribed an Epi-Pen make sure that everyone in your home knows how to use it properly, including your child. While some children may not be old enough to understand how or why it works, it could save valuable time during a reaction if everyone is trained accordingly. http://www.wikihow.com/Use-an-Epipen
- Use your smart phone to take pictures of foods that your child is allergic to for easy texting to others when you are away.
- Transportation to and from school or after school events can also be worrisome. Kids like to eat, and usually they don’t think about the enclosed space and how food particles, oils, and odors can be inhaled and be just as dangerous. Does the driver know what to do if there is a food related emergency? Talk with your school districts transportation office about what safety measures the drivers have been trained on. It would also be good to have this conversation with any parent who may be driving your child in a group as well.
- Study groups, overnight sleepovers, and birthday parties can be a bit terrifying for a parent of a food allergic child. Will there be any harmful foods that may contaminate your child’s food? How about birthday parties? Talk with the birthday host’s parents about the food allergy and ask if there is anything you can supply that would make the day enjoyable and easy for everyone. Some families will opt for bringing their own cupcake (s) for their child to eat and share if appropriate.
- Research your States action plan for Food Allergy Awareness in the classroom. Know your rights and how your child can be affected by State Legislation.
This will be a great school year, so don’t let food allergies get in the way of making sure your child has a happy and healthy education. As parents, we can make a difference in our child’s lives and their classmates. Have a great start to your school year!
For more information on Food Allergy Research visit www.plasmalab.com