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PostPosted: Mon Jan 29, 2007 5:38 pm 
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My daughter has an anaphlaxis dairy allergy. In our school, dairy egg and nuts are the top three allergies. There are also fruit, seed and fish allergies as well as vegetarians. Restrict nuts throughout the school? No, I don't believe in a school wide food restriction, because if you want to make it safe for every severly allergic child, then all food would eventually be restricted. The moderate approach (our school adopted) is to limit allergic foods in the classroom of an allergic child. The cafeteria has no limitations and optional allergy free tables. For my dairy allergic daughter, the cafeteria provides an excellent transition from our dairy free home to the real wolrd. She wears her epipen belt (school policy), and is completely comfortable in the cafeteria, (and school). Wearing the meds , and having well trained teachers have given her a safe real world environment. If schools don't have cafeterias, allergy tables could be set up in the classrom, where the kids eating the allergic food are segregated to that table, and handwashing etc. can be easily monitored.

Maureen

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parent of severe dairy and sesame allergic children


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PostPosted: Tue Jan 30, 2007 7:59 am 
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Joined: Tue Mar 22, 2005 11:17 pm
Posts: 6476
Location: Ottawa
Maureen, I would be thrilled if our school had a cafeteria which was monitored.
It seems in our school that the children eat at there desks with minimal supervision (still trying to get a firm answer on how many adults are monitoring the classes).
I understand that schools can't ban everyfood but reasonable restrictions of highly transferable allergens makes more sense than hoping that every student washes his/her hands prompyly upon leaving the cafeteria-(cause it ain't gonna happen)
I would love health classes to teach handwashing and basic hygiene (cover your mouth when you cough), allergy awareness and reductions of crosscontamination can follow naturally from this.
Most children feel empowered to help their friends stay safe and enjoy learning how they can make a difference. I have never experienced negative attitude from a child except for one time when she was telling me what her mother had said.

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Daughter: asthma, allergies to egg, milk, peanuts, tree nuts, most legumes (not soy) & penicillin. Developing hayfever type allergies.
Husband: no allergies
Me: allergies to some tree that flowers in May
Cat: allergic to beef, pork and lamb


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PostPosted: Tue Jan 30, 2007 10:08 am 
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Joined: Sat Apr 16, 2005 12:09 am
Posts: 1054
I also think that it's important to take a child's age into consideration. Where one set-up might be fine for 10-year-olds, another might not be sufficient for a bunch of 3 or 4-year-olds. I also think that the teacher to child ratio is off in most schools -- I don't believe that most schools can afford their teachers the time to take all of the non-allergic children into the bathrooms to make sure that they wash (and wash properly) their hands after meals - this is something that concerns me with highly transferable allergens like nuts, dairy, etc. too. I think it's important that each school work with the parents of allergic kids to find what works best (and is the safest) for their situation given age of kids, allergens, adult supervision available, etc.


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PostPosted: Tue Jan 30, 2007 10:59 am 
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Joined: Tue Nov 29, 2005 4:04 pm
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Location: Gatineau, Quebec
I also think that it's very important to consider is the age of the children - older kids are hopefully better able to not share food, utensils, etc. with friends or put their fingers in their mouths by accident, while younger kids (such as in jr. and sr. kindergarten) need more help. It's also important to keep in mind that some kids are contact reactive, which can complicate things.

For me, the most important thing is that the school is willing to work with the parents to find something that doesn't overly restrict others but also keeps the kids safe. Keeping the lines of communication open is so important.

I will say that our own allergist said that she did not think peanuts or nuts of any kind, including products with traces, should be around children at the kindergarten to grade one level because of their lessened ability to self-protect. From about grade 2 on, she felt that having products with traces in the eating area would be okay. (And that was our own feeling too, and we've gone with that at our sons' school.)

I think it's also important to remember that experts in the field started recommending that peanuts and nuts be restricted in schools because children were dying from allergic reactions at school. It was an attempt to try to make the school environment safer and not have fatalities. It wasn't just some parent trying to force everyone to accommodate their child with allergies.

For a severe dairy allergy, something that our family is living with as well, it does seem to be more complicated. Right now we're just at the kindergarten level with that, so I don't have a lot of experience with the school system, but so far it's going okay. But we have a lot of adult supervision - always at least one adult with the children when food is around, which is critical in my opinion.

With the blessing of the principal and on the recommendation of our allergist, we asked parents to not send in spillable milk for lunch and snacks, but nothing is mandated. Along with all the other things he does to stay safe, my son sits at a table in his classroom where friends aren't consuming spillable milk (he moves to wherever it's safe, basically, and he appears to be fine with that). The teacher and daycare teacher are sharing the stress of keeping him safe by keeping an eye on things, making sure everyone washes their hands and don't share, making sure the tables and floor is washed every lunch hour, etc. And I know that they do find it very stressful. My son does what he can, but he's a little kid and it's not like he can control a classroom of 21 children.

Anyway, it will never be easy, but for me, the fact that our school takes food allergies seriously and is willing to talk to us and work with us to find ways to reduce the risks to allergic children helps enormously.

K.

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Karen, proud Mom of
- DS1 (12 yrs): allergic to cashews, pistachios, Brazil nuts, potatoes, some legumes, some fish, pumpkin seeds; OAS
- DS2 (1o yrs): ana. to dairy, eggs, peanuts; asthma


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PostPosted: Thu Feb 01, 2007 3:17 am 
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Joined: Sat Oct 01, 2005 8:55 pm
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Location: Vancouver, BC
I agree that having school staff that takes the situation seriously and is trained to recognize and deal with an LTA emergency makes a difference. My son's school has been very supportive, but nothing is mandated, and I know that peanut products come in, probably frequently, but he knows he is to wash his hands and only eat food from home. His teacher is great, and very clear that no peanuts are allowed in class, and all his classmates have been taught how to use epipen, what a reaction would look like, and are really great at helping him.

I used to be so scared when he went to school everyday, but now I am used to it, and I feel he is pretty safe. He's only had one reaction in 5 years at school, and that was cos he didn't follow the rules. It was a great lesson for him, and he manages his LTA much better because of the experience.

It's hard to put blanket policies in place cos each child is an individual, but for us, he really needed a lot of support until about grade 2, and I, as his Mom, really needed a lot of support until then, too. But there wasn't any (I didn't know about the forum), so I was crankier and more fearful than I needed to be. I really needed some direction to get my fears under control. It was really hard having to teach everyone at the school, and always be checking up and telling them all the things that needed tweaking, or and all the extra stuff I had to do, what with baking, field trips, etc, when I was just learning as I went along, too. I felt like I was always pointing out problems and being negative, when really, in my heart, I was so grateful that they would help me at all, considering that they didn't have to. I felt anxious and guilty and scared all the time.

Now I would be okay with just his class being peanut free,and I would be okay with the odd bit of peanut sneaking in, cos I think that is the reality, that there is always going to be some risk for him, and I am glad that the quiet, kind majority of people do make an effort to keep him safe. And I don't want to deal with the loud, unkind minority. They just need more education, and every year I deal with LTA's, there are less people spouting off about their right to eat what they want, etc, so I am happy about that.

I think it is important to have a program in place to educate the kids about allergies and what foods they need to be careful with, and if all the staff were educated re: LTA's. I think that I have a responsibility someone who only has to deal with peanuts to point out that other allergens are equally dangerous, and to help create a system where all allergens are dealt with seriously, rather than just peanuts.

I am finding that as he gets older, my opinions are changing, and I am becoming more moderate, and mostly that is because I have been able to meet other people on the forum and through AC that are dealing with this successfully, and I have learned from them. You've all really helped me get a handle on this.

I know that I will have to be more proactive when he gets to high school, but luckily, there have been articles written (thanks, Gwen) so that I know what I need to ask for, and what will be most effective to keep him safe without limiting him or others, so hopefully, high school won't be such a hard transition as elementary school was.


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PostPosted: Thu Feb 01, 2007 1:38 pm 
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Joined: Tue Nov 29, 2005 4:04 pm
Posts: 2044
Location: Gatineau, Quebec
Pamela Lee wrote:
I am finding that as he gets older, my opinions are changing, and I am becoming more moderate, and mostly that is because I have been able to meet other people on the forum and through AC that are dealing with this successfully, and I have learned from them. You've all really helped me get a handle on this.


I feel the same way, Pam. When you think about it, it's pretty normal: the more educated you are about a subject (and the more support you have), the less fearful you are and the less strung-out you are.

It doesn't mean I don't take things any less seriously than I used to, but I think I'm able to present myself in a much calmer manner. Which I'm sure helps everyone, including me.

K.

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Karen, proud Mom of
- DS1 (12 yrs): allergic to cashews, pistachios, Brazil nuts, potatoes, some legumes, some fish, pumpkin seeds; OAS
- DS2 (1o yrs): ana. to dairy, eggs, peanuts; asthma


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PostPosted: Thu Feb 01, 2007 1:48 pm 
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Posts: 1054
I agree with what you guys have said about education and support helping with the anxiety -- but I also feel that for me, the anxiety lessens as he gets older and better able to self-protect. Although he's not yet at the age where he can do it alone, he's now able to talk about his allergy, remember rules about food, etc. -- sooo less stressful than the prospect of leaving your baby in someone else's care who can't yet communicate and who is constantly putting objects in their mouths. With each passing year, I feel a smidgen less anxiety...


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PostPosted: Thu Feb 01, 2007 10:44 pm 
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Joined: Tue Nov 29, 2005 4:04 pm
Posts: 2044
Location: Gatineau, Quebec
So very very true. I should give more credit to my two little men for keeping themselves safe!!

K.

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Karen, proud Mom of
- DS1 (12 yrs): allergic to cashews, pistachios, Brazil nuts, potatoes, some legumes, some fish, pumpkin seeds; OAS
- DS2 (1o yrs): ana. to dairy, eggs, peanuts; asthma


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