Children with Food Allergies at School
10 Practical Tips for food-allergic families
Back-to-school preparations are critically important for food-allergic youngsters, particularly those leaving the safety and familiarity of home for the first time. Follow these suggestions to help ensure that your student stays out of harm’s way.
1. Start early Before the school year begins, inform the principal that your child has food allergies. Meet with appropriate staff to create a care plan and establish school policy to meet your child’s needs.
2. Notify others Have the school send a letter to classroom parents, alerting them to your child’s condition and asking for their cooperation.
3. Get smart Become an expert on your child’s allergy. The school will look to you for information, such as reaction signs and safe products.
4. Keep your cool Don’t take resistance personally. Stay focused on your child’s safety. Stick to the facts and keep your emotions at home. Say thank you to those who are helpful.
5. Supply the school Be sure that medications are labeled, up to date and readily available. Give the school medical documentation, including a standing doctor’s order for epinephrine, if appropriate. Keep emergency contact information current and accessible. Complete all consent forms. Have your child wear a medic-alert bracelet.
6. Look at the law Your school can develop an Individualized Education Program (IEP) for your child, if necessary. In addition, federal laws may apply (ADA, Section 504, etc.). Implementation at your school may be impacted by local and state regulations.
7. Stay involved Work closely with the school throughout the year. Provide the teacher with a stash of safe snacks. Whenever possible, participate in field trips, lunch time, special programs, etc.
8. Empower your child Children should learn to become responsible for their own health. Depending on age, a child should know his safe foods, signs of a reaction, how to read labels, how to call for help, etc.
9. Think positively Children pick up their cues from adults. Focus on what your child can do, not on deprivation.
10. Be creative Plan and encourage activities, hobbies and celebrations that don’t center around food.