Every good parent worries about their children returning to school, but this anxiety may be magnified when children have allergies, many of which can be life-threatening. Food allergies at lunchtime can be difficult for anybody to deal with, and the school cafeteria can seem like a battleground. If you are worried, you are not alone.
It is estimated that 4 out of every 100 children have food allergies, so your child is not alone. With different levels of severity involved in food allergies, it can be difficult to determine the best course of action for your child's safety.
If you are concerned about how your child will fare in school with allergies to food, there are some steps you can take.
Communicate With School Administration
Talking to your child's teacher is an important part of keeping your child safe in the classroom, but what happens when your child goes out for recess, lunch or physical education? Other people need to be informed.
Make sure to reach out to your school's lunch personnel, playground supervisors and physical education teachers. Most importantly, make sure that you communicate with the school nurse and are clear on the medical procedures in place for handling allergic reactions.
Buy a Food Allergy Bracelet
Food allergy jewelry can provide notification to staff members and even other students about the potential allergic reactions in the cafeteria or on the playground. If anaphylaxis were to take place, people would have a clue about what is happening.
Talk to Your Child
Of course, it is also important that you speak with your child first and foremost. Even young children have the capability to understand that certain foods can hurt them. An age-appropriate discussion could be the thing that saves your child's life.
You can also make it part of the lesson to read food labels, looking for information about potential allergies. Food labels are required to include potential allergens such as dairy, nuts and shellfish. Teaching recognizable words to your young child may be helpful.
Ask Your Child's School Nurse About Medications
If your child takes certain medications for allergies or has rescue medications on hand, make sure that you talk to the school nurse about keeping extra medications, like epinephrine, at the school. You can do the same with EpiPens and inhalers. Provide clear instructions along with the medication.
If medications are not an option, it is still smart to create a plan with the school's nurse about an emergency plan of action. The Food Allergy Research & Education organization offers a printable sheet that also lists steps for administering treatments in the event of an allergic reaction.
Send Snacks to School
Many parents may send treats to the classroom for a special event, unaware that some students in the class are allergic to them. You may be able to talk with the child's teacher and have certain snacks available for your child in the event that something like this happens.
Encourage Your Child's Teacher to Talk About Allergies
When you communicate with your child's teacher about the severity of your child’s allergies, you may be able to encourage them to talk about it with the rest of the class. When all the students in the room understand allergies and the signs of anaphylaxis, they can provide some sense of protection for your child as well.
At the Allergy and Asthma Clinic of Fort Worth, we specialize in allergy treatment. Do you we have questions about how to keep your child safe as he or she goes back to school this year? We may be able to help you.