Avoiding Spilled Milk
- Request water and fruit/vegetable snacks if possible. Added bonus: less mess and more nutritious.
- Firmly request a “no-sharing” policy. Our daughter decorated a plastic container as her treat “jar”, which holds single servings of safe candy and small toys. The problem was getting the teacher to remember if unsafe food was served. Let your child know he or she is helping the teacher by reminding her.
- Get the school behind: a hand-washing policy. Pupils with food allergies should wash their hands before eating and everyone should wash afterward. Problem: With limited time and few washrooms, my daughter had no time to eat her snacks. Solution? I now send wipes. We invented a two-Baggie technique: one is marked clean, and one dirty (use colour-coded stickers for JK/SK).
- Discuss the dairy-at-school issue with your allergist. Get that advice in writing. A note from a medical specialist will carry weight.
- Work with the teacher; act as a resource. When the principal asks about dairy issues, don’t get defensive. Sometimes he or she just needs more information to help explain to other parents.
- Join the parent council; volunteer for events. You will be able to offer safe solutions to allergy issues that others fail to notice.
- The more dangerous times are non-routine days, including: substitute teacher days, outings, celebrations, snow days and guests in the classroom. Have a plan for these occurrences.
- Field trip awareness: What is the planned activity? Where will it happen? Who will be there? Will there be food present? If so, what is it – and who’s responsible for it? Will there be supervision by someone who is trained on symptoms and how to administer the auto-injector?
- Don’t discuss food issues with irate parents; remind them that changes are at the discretion of the principal.
Susan Clemens is the moderator of AllergicLiving.com’s Talking Allergies Forum. Join her for discussion under the “Schools” thread.
First published in Allergic Living magazine, Fall 2009 edition.
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