Does your child have serious allergies and is about to start school? Anne Walsh from Allergy Lifestyle gives some tips for starting school for a child with severe allergies.
Starting school can be an exciting and daunting experience for both parent and child but if your child has severe allergies there is an additional worry as you let them go from your supervision and have less control over their environment and what they are exposed to.
Research indicates that as many as one in 50 children may be allergic to nuts with milk, egg, peanuts, tree nuts, soy, wheat, fish and shellfish accounting for 90% of all allergic reactions to food. Other non food causes of allergic reactions include bee or wasp stings, animal, pollen, dust mites, latex or penicillin.
So what can you do to ensure your child’s allergies are accommodated within the school system?
The good news is that with good communication and planning the majority of allergic children can be safely accommodated in the school system and enjoy a healthy and active school life.
As a mother to a child with serious food allergies, I can say that I have found the school system and other parents very supportive in facilitating and keeping my daughter safe at school. Aisling suffered a near fatal allergic reaction to peanuts coming up to her second birthday and was my inspiration to set up Allergy Lifestyle to source and supply quality, reliable products to assist those managing serious allergies and asthma. Now as healthy and active nine year old, she considers herself my business partner and takes her role very seriously personally approving all products!
Top tips for managing allergies at school include:
#1. Meet with your doctor or allergy specialist
They are best placed to know your child’s specific requirements and draw up an allergy management plan to assist the school in recognising symptoms of an allergic reaction and response to it.
#2. Meet with the school principal and discuss how they manage allergies in the school.
Draw up a school allergy management plan using information provided by your health care professional. Consider including your child’s photo in the allergy management plan and have it displayed clearly in the staff room so that all school staff can recognise your child should an incident occur outside of the classroom. Provide your child’s details, emergency contact information for your doctor, child’s parents and a backup contact in case you can’t be reached.
#3. Discuss medication
If your child is prescribed medication such as anti-histamines and adrenaline, discuss where it is stored, who has access to it and who can administer it. Ask can a local public health nurse or health professional train school staff in when and how to administer adrenaline if prescribed for your child in the event of a serious allergic reaction.
#4. Discuss lunch
Discuss who provides lunch, where do the children eat and are they supervised? If for example your child has a nut allergy will they make the classroom or school a nut free zone or have a separate allergy free table. Is there a routine of hand washing and wiping down tables after eating?
#5. Be aware of triggers
Be aware of triggers in soaps, face paints, art and craft materials or bird/animal feed.
#6. Ensure temporary staff are made aware of the allergies
Check that there is a system in place so that any temporary staff are made aware of your child’s allergies
#7. Teach your child not to share food or drinks
Teach your child not to share food or drinks, and if they are not feeling well to tell a teacher immediately and not to go to the bathroom on their own.
#8. Tell other parents
Ensure other parents are aware there is a child with allergies in the class/school and remind again via the school newsletter at times like sports days, school tours, cake sales, Easter, Halloween or Christmas where extra treats may be brought in the classroom.
Managing Chronic Health Conditions in Schools is an invaluable resource pack for teachers, principals and school staff produced in association with Anaphylaxis Ireland, The Asthma Society of Ireland, Diabetes Ireland and Brainwave – the Irish Epilepsy Association and the management of anaphylaxis in schools. It is available from the INTO website or Anaphylaxis Ireland.
This article is not intended nor recommended as a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider regarding any medical condition or treatment. Never disregard medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read in this article.
Does your child suffer from a serious allergy? How have you managed with school? Share your tips in the comments below.