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PostPosted: Wed Oct 18, 2006 7:02 pm 
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Joined: Tue Sep 12, 2006 8:25 pm
Posts: 233
Location: Winnipeg
There are loads of food based activities surrounding Halloween at my children's school. The teacher is really trying to make sure my sons are safe. She had me go in to the school yesterday to read labels and OK the many, many treats that they are using for learning activities (all were safe but one). There is one activity however that she said there was no way they could make safe, and recommended that I take the boys home for that afternoon. It is their actual Halloween party, hosted by an older grade with lots of homemade and prepackaged treats provided by those students.
On the one hand, I'm glad that she recognizes the seriousness and scope of the danger (as in even if they ban peanuts and eggs from the party, what about cross contamination from the homemade treats), and is honest about their ability for controlling the situation (or lack thereof). And I'm glad to bring them home for the afternoon where they will be 100% safe, and we can plan something special for them here.
But...I really hate the idea of them being excluded. It would be wonderful if they could modify it somehow, to be something that everyone could enjoy, including children with food allergies. And what if I wasn't available to bring them home? Would they be sitting in the library by themselves, while the other children went to the party? It's just kind of lousy.
I'm not going to kick up a fuss over this one (it feels like we've been asking for a lot from the school lately, and I want to keep things amicable :wink: ), but if this becomes the norm for holiday celebrations at school and not just a one time thing , I will be asking for a change. It just doesn't seem fair.
I was wondering if anyone else has experience with dealing with this?

_________________
1 son allergic to eggs, peanuts, green peas, chick peas, lentils and tomatoes
(avoiding tree nuts and most other legumes too)
1 son allergic to eggs, and has outgrown peanuts
Both with many environmental allergies, asthma and eczema


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PostPosted: Wed Oct 18, 2006 7:45 pm 
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Joined: Thu Aug 24, 2006 1:42 am
Posts: 222
Location: Victoria, British Columbia
I think it is TERRIBLE that they can't make this event safe for your sons and it makes me :evil: ! As if your boys won't know about the party. Why does there have to be so much food in our schools?? I am going to calm down and come back with some solutions to this, but I just need to tell you I feel the disappointment that must be very difficult for your boys.

Argh.
Caroline2


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PostPosted: Wed Oct 18, 2006 7:50 pm 
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Joined: Tue Mar 22, 2005 11:17 pm
Posts: 6455
Location: Ottawa
They are going to allow homemade treats but then caution children not to eat home made treats that night? This makes no sense.
They could collect 2-3 dollars and purchase safe treats books, erasers, fake tattos, stickers, and the like from a dollar store. They could do halloween activities.
They are choosing to exclude children based on their health status and I fee that is discrimination. Is this a publically funded school? All the worse! :evil:
Almost feel like calling the news papers.

_________________
Moderator
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: Wed Oct 18, 2006 9:08 pm 
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Joined: Sun Mar 05, 2006 1:05 pm
Posts: 528
Location: Burlington, Ontario
This kind of thing just encenses me!

Susan is right, this is indeed discrimination. Public schools don't celebrate Christmas anymore because that would exclude non-Christian children and it would be discrimination. This is the same thing!

You should show the letter I posted under the following thread to your principal, from one principal to another:

http://www.allergicliving.com/forum/vie ... php?t=1453

I believe this is what all the schools should be adopting as a model for food at school. The way it is worded also shows that it is in everyone's best interest to not bring junk food at school. It is not a place of eating, it's a place of learning.

I know you're probably tired of rocking the boat, but if she was a good teacher, she would do her best to include your little ones.

_________________
15 year old - asthmatic, allergic to cats, dogs, horses, waiting to be "officially" diagnosed for anaphylaxis
12 year old - asthmatic, allergic to tree pollen and mold, OAS
Husband - Allergic to amoxycillin
Self - Allergic to housework only


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PostPosted: Wed Oct 18, 2006 10:03 pm 
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Joined: Sat Apr 16, 2005 12:09 am
Posts: 1054
twinmom wrote:
I'm not going to kick up a fuss over this one (it feels like we've been asking for a lot from the school lately, and I want to keep things amicable :wink: ), but if this becomes the norm for holiday celebrations at school and not just a one time thing , I will be asking for a change. It just doesn't seem fair.

I don't have any experience dealing with it as my son doesn't start school until next year, but I'll still give you my thoughts :wink: . I think it's great that your sons' teacher is being as good as she is about considering your sons' allergies but I really do feel that your children should not be excluded. They haven't done anything wrong and they are being left out of a really fun afternoon with their peers, and for something that they have no control over. School parties can still function without food or, as Susan said, with safe prepackaged foods that you have approved. Your sons' teacher should really be encouraging activities that include all children - what kind of message does this send the other children about leaving people out who are different or have different needs. What about an afternoon of board games / gym-type games / a hallowe'en costume parade, etc. There is no reason that homemade treats must be included for these children to have their party. Personally, I'd address the possibility of future parties immediately following the Hallowe'en party - nip it in the bud - don't wait until she has already planned their winter party and told parents they can bring in homemade treats again. It'll give you all time to address the issues well in advance of the hectic holiday season. Big hugs to your boys and I hope you have a fantastic afternoon with them! :D


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PostPosted: Wed Oct 18, 2006 10:28 pm 
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Joined: Tue Mar 22, 2005 6:53 pm
Posts: 1454
Location: Canada
That's sad your son's teacher is excluding him---I really hope that this doesn't become a pattern. The option of limiting treats around holidays doesn't seem to cross peoples' radar---social events centre around food, and people have difficulty thinking outside of the box. Perhaps the teacher hasn't thought this through. But, still, I'm pretty sure that excluding children from school activities on account of a medical disability is illegal. I hope your son doesn't feel embarrassed about extra attention being drawn to his allergies and isn't too disappointed about missing the celebration.


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PostPosted: Wed Oct 18, 2006 10:42 pm 
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Joined: Thu Sep 22, 2005 11:39 pm
Posts: 1141
Location: saskatchewan, canada
Their class is having a party...and they're told to stay home because of the food :shock: ! I think the food should stay home! Personally I think its pretty rediculous that a teacher would see it as an option to exclude your boys. Doesn't exactly express any concern over their feelings and doesn't exactly model appropriate behavior for the other children in regards to including others and caring. As Ethansmom said...find a way to have fun without food. It actually IS possible...and it is in EVERYONES best interest.

_________________
DD age 9 1/2 -peanuts, nuts,
DD age 7 1/2 - milk, eggs, chicken, peanuts, treenuts, cats, dogs,
DS age 2 1/2
Husband- asthma, eggs, treenuts, fish, shellfish environmental
Self - penicillan, eurithromiacin, mild laytex allergy.


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PostPosted: Wed Oct 18, 2006 11:45 pm 
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Joined: Thu Aug 24, 2006 1:42 am
Posts: 222
Location: Victoria, British Columbia
I am a bit calmer now, but I agree with everything others have said. If they just talk to us, they can figure out a way to be inclusive. I tell ya, this is hard work, trying to be accomidating and nondemanding with such a serious issue. Arghh..still burns!

My school has opted for a 'walkathon' which, in the past, has been a fundraiser while allowing the kids to come to school in costume. This year, however, we will be encouraging donations to the food bank. Still food oriented, but somehow better.

Caroline2


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PostPosted: Thu Oct 19, 2006 6:54 am 
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Joined: Tue Mar 22, 2005 11:17 pm
Posts: 6455
Location: Ottawa
Spinach + e-coli
Carrott juice +botulism
These are the two most recent stoyies in the news. I can't understand why schools risk liability with parents making treats. Aside from the food allergen issue, who ensures the hygiene?
I know of non-allergic children who were not allowed to consume home made treats for this reason.
I just wonder if the Public Health Dept has a thought on this.

_________________
Moderator
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: Thu Oct 19, 2006 8:40 am 
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Joined: Sun Mar 05, 2006 1:05 pm
Posts: 528
Location: Burlington, Ontario
ethansmom wrote:
[Your sons' teacher should really be encouraging activities that include all children - what kind of message does this send the other children about leaving people out who are different or have different needs.


Very, very well put, ethansmom. That would be one of my main arguments.

I really don't think you should stay quiet about this. If the teacher has already told the kids about the party, it might be too late as they are all looking forward to it now, but you should let it known that it won't be acceptable in the future.

I wish you all the luck and big hugs to your little guys.

_________________
15 year old - asthmatic, allergic to cats, dogs, horses, waiting to be "officially" diagnosed for anaphylaxis
12 year old - asthmatic, allergic to tree pollen and mold, OAS
Husband - Allergic to amoxycillin
Self - Allergic to housework only


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PostPosted: Thu Oct 19, 2006 11:05 am 
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Joined: Tue Sep 12, 2006 8:25 pm
Posts: 233
Location: Winnipeg
Thanks for all the replies. It helps to hear some indignation expressed on behalf of my guys, because this is NOT fair.
I discussed it with my husband, and we are going to let this one go. He feels, and I agree, that since the wheels for planning this party are already in motion, by asking for changes at this point we run the risk of putting our boys in the position of being "those allergic kids who wrecked Halloween" :evil: . Creating resentment towards them within their school community is the absolute last thing that we would want to do.
I'm not sure if we will be at this school for Christmas (there may be a move in the works for us), but if we are, I am going to follow ethansmom's suggestion and address this issue right away, long before we have to worry about cancelling plans already in motion. And if we do change to a different school, I will now know to address this issue of inclusion right off the bat.
There are so many safe alternatives to choose from, I'm sad that our school didn't even explore any of them with us, but chose excluding my sons from the party as an acceptable solution instead.
As far as the legalities of excluding a child from a school function based on a medical disability, it is my understanding that it is within the school's rights to do so, as long as they provide an alternative that meets that child's needs (please correct me if I'm wrong). My youngest sister has William's syndrome, so my family is familiar with functioning within the school system with special needs. The school often can't or just doesn't include the special needs child in all of the class activities. For example my sister is extremely sensitive to sound, and is upset by mess and disorder so they try to keep the daily classroom routine as quiet and predictable as possible, but for special events and parties she often leaves the class for some sort of alternative activity with a TA. It may not be fair, but the school is primarily catering to the needs of the average child, then seeing how or if special needs can be accomodated around that.
In the case of FA though, making the changes necessary to accomodate our children could really benefit the average child. Who needs all that junk anyway? Our school seems to be having a good 3 days of activities which include junk food :shock:. What about diabetic children? Or overweight ones? Or the many little ones who aren't getting a good nutritional base at home, then are going to school to be loaded up on more sugar???
I LOVE that "living school" designation that Nicole posted about. Wouldn't it be wonderful if schools nationwide adopted that policy?
Anyway we will make that afternoon as special as possible here at home, to ease their disappointment, and I will tackle this well in advance of the next holiday. I just didn't even realize this would be an issue? My school has been so cooperative about making many changes at our request, I hadn't really considered the possibility of our sons being excluded from activities that could be modified to meet their needs.

_________________
1 son allergic to eggs, peanuts, green peas, chick peas, lentils and tomatoes
(avoiding tree nuts and most other legumes too)
1 son allergic to eggs, and has outgrown peanuts
Both with many environmental allergies, asthma and eczema


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PostPosted: Thu Oct 19, 2006 12:23 pm 
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Joined: Sun Mar 05, 2006 1:05 pm
Posts: 528
Location: Burlington, Ontario
You make some excellent points, twinmom, about diabetic and overweight children. These kind of events only contribute further to the problem of epidemic obesity. There is a big picture here.

And yes, the school may exclude a child from a school activity because the child may have physical or intellectual limitations, but it's not the case here and a party with food is not exactly part of the curriculum, is it? And your sister wasn't banned from the school, she was taken to another area by a teacher to do activities tailored for her. It's the fact that they're telling your boys to stay home because they don't want to deal with them that infuriates me.

We should definitely go back to the days when I was a child, where the teacher gave us one candy on Halloween day, a candy cane at Christmas and a chocolate at Easter if we were good and then went back to teaching. Today, it's party, party, party at every little occasion and less and less time dedicated to learning.

Okay now I'm just venting against the education system... :lol:

_________________
15 year old - asthmatic, allergic to cats, dogs, horses, waiting to be "officially" diagnosed for anaphylaxis
12 year old - asthmatic, allergic to tree pollen and mold, OAS
Husband - Allergic to amoxycillin
Self - Allergic to housework only


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PostPosted: Thu Oct 19, 2006 1:10 pm 
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Joined: Tue Sep 12, 2006 8:25 pm
Posts: 233
Location: Winnipeg
Man, do I ever agree about that party, party, party thing. If they would just get on with the learning part life would be so much easier :roll: .
Just to clarify, the teacher knows that I am a full time SAHM, and therefore was most likely able to bring them home. I'm sure they would have provided an alternative if we needed one...but how depressing would that have been to sit in the library or hang out in their classroom with the TA while all the other kids went off to the party?
I'm really grateful that I'm able to bring them home. I don't think the teacher is even considering how hard it would be on them if I wasn't.
It's disappointing enough as it is.

_________________
1 son allergic to eggs, peanuts, green peas, chick peas, lentils and tomatoes
(avoiding tree nuts and most other legumes too)
1 son allergic to eggs, and has outgrown peanuts
Both with many environmental allergies, asthma and eczema


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PostPosted: Thu Oct 19, 2006 3:46 pm 
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Joined: Sat Sep 16, 2006 6:50 pm
Posts: 205
Location: Ontario, Canada
Your poor guys. Is there any way you could go to the party and monitor your sons? Just a thought. I hate hearing stories like this one. It makes me dread the school days ahead for my preschooler ( who would have a huge meltdown if she had to miss something like that). I hope that you can figure out a solution. :wink:

_________________
daughter: 6 years tree nuts, peanuts


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PostPosted: Thu Oct 19, 2006 9:09 pm 
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Joined: Mon Apr 11, 2005 9:38 pm
Posts: 923
Location: Oakville, Ontario
I really sympathise with you, and I understand what you're going through as I find we go through this frequently with our son. My 7 year old daughter is able to attend and participate in EVERYTHING without fear; however, the same cannot be said of our son. So much planning is required for our son to attend school and any outside social event. Our son is only 4 years old (he will turn 5 in January) and in JK this year. He attended the preschool program at this same school last year, and as much as the school has made tremendous efforts to accomodate our son, it is still not a perfect situation. There are several class parties throughout the year (involving food, or course!) as well as optional birthday party platters sent in by the parents when their child is having a birthday. These platters are strictly fruit and vegetables; but our son is still excluded due to dealing with multiple food allergies (including pineapple and green peas.) Pineapple is on most fruit platters, plus we simply don't know where or with what the fruit/vegetable was cut, so he must strictly avoid these platters. It really upsets me, but I don't let my son see this. We make sure he has a great tasting, yet healthy, snack everyday, including fruit (just in case there is a birthday platter! urrgghh!) He has some fall-back special treats at school just in case there is a real issue, but I think this has only been required once so far this year.

Whenever there is a class party, I have to be there. The school has requested it, and I want to be there to monitor the situation. I have to bring ALL his food - he virtually cannot eat any of the food provided by the school, or other parents; but we find this pretty much every where we go. It makes me sad, but I want to teach my son to live happily in this very food-focused world. The alternative is that we don't attend social events, and I don't want our son to grow up that way either. So we always focus on the positives, and the fun, NOT the food that will be at the event. We always make sure he has some of his favourite foods when he goes to school or when we go out to a social event.

I do share the same feelings everyone has expressed, but I most often try to focus on all the positive strides that have been made, and the efforts made by many (both allergic and non-allergic community). Changing attitudes takes real effort, and lots of time, so I applaud the steps we are making in the food allergy arena (even though these steps, may, at times, feel like baby steps)! We still have a long way to go, but I feel there have been gains, and I am grateful for ANY gain we make. But, there's still lots of work to be done - I don't know if this will ever change. Whenever someone has a special need, I believe the effort is on-going to raise awareness, and, from there, to receive support. The support received can take time, and some people "get it" more quickly than others.

_________________
15 yr old daughter: no health issues
12 yr old son: allergic to peanuts, tree nuts, eggs, fish, sesame, sunflower, mustard, poppy seeds, green peas, some fruits, instructed to avoid all other legumes (except soy & green beans), pollen, cats, horses


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