It is that time of year when we pack our children’s backpacks and start a new school year. For parents of children with food allergies it can be a particularly stressful time, as they worry about their children having a reaction while at school. Food allergies have become more common in the past 20 years. Most of us grew up not knowing anyone with a food allergy. That is not true these days. It seems most classrooms have at least one food allergic child.
What can parents do to prepare for the upcoming school year? It is very important to meet with the school nurse and the child’s teacher to review his or her food allergy. You should find out what protocols are already in place at the school to prevent and to treat accidental exposures. Fortunately, most schools already have protocols already in place. You should also have a Food Allergy Action Plan on file at the school that tells the staff about the child’s food allergy, what symptoms he or she might develop, what treatment to give, and contact information on whom to call after treatment has been initiated.
Be aware of field trips or other times your child might be exposed to an allergen, such as a class party or class project. Discuss with the teacher how these activities will be handled.
I think it is also important to teach your child how to talk about symptoms he or she might experience during an allergic reaction and what to do if he/she has a reaction. Your child should also be taught to ask if the food allergen is in the food before taking any food from an adult or other child.
More information on sending your food allergic child to school can be found on the FARE website under “Tools and Resources” for parents.
Have a safe year!