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 Post subject: annoyed at a teacher
PostPosted: Mon Jun 23, 2008 9:50 pm 
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Joined: Fri Jun 13, 2008 10:16 am
Posts: 7
Location: Winnipeg
Hi All
I just heard from another parent in my daughter's class at school that the grade 1 teacher was complaining to her about how hard it has been to have my daughter in her class this year and how difficult it has been for her to cope with a severely allergic child because she had to change many of her activities that she usually does.
She has failed to notify me twice this year when she had food in the classroom and my daughter once came home with hives after making a bird feeder with seeds that the teacher told her she could touch.
I was really annoyed when this parent told me about the teacher complaining about my daughter's allergies!!!! My daughter is a sweet, quiet, well behaved little girl who has multiple food allergies.
I know that it's the end of the school year, but I was reading an article about how difficult it is for children with allergies and I can't find the article again. I wanted to copy it and send it to the teacher so she can be a little more aware of allergic children deal with every day.
Can someone let me know what article it was?
Thanks!

Daughter - allergic to eggs, banana, dairy, peanuts, tree nuts, white potato, shell fish, salmon, kiwi, beans.[/list]


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue Jun 24, 2008 7:04 am 
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Joined: Tue Mar 22, 2005 11:17 pm
Posts: 6455
Location: Ottawa
I would contact the principal and advise him/her that you have heard that this has occured. It is very unprofessional if it did happen and needs to be addressed.

I would use this as an opportunity to strengthen the communication between yourself and the school. You do not want a repeat of this or the situations you mentioned regarding food in the classroom.

Ask the Principal to arrange a meeting with you to discuss the anaphylaxis policy in that school and ensure that your childs best interests are being met. Be sure that the Principal understands that you expect your child to be safe and not singled out because to a medical condition.

Ask for a meeting with the new teacher (either in person or by phone) prior to the school year starting so that you can discuss issues before they arise. Set up clear expectations regarding communication. You want the teacher to be able to come to you if thay are planning any lessons which include food items. This is a huge learning curve for a teacher who hasn't dealt with food alergies in the past.

this website might help:
http://www.allergysafecommunities.ca/pa ... p?catid=11

_________________
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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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue Jun 24, 2008 12:23 pm 
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Joined: Sun May 25, 2008 4:27 pm
Posts: 300
Location: Montreal
I cannot believe that some teachers are still like this today...when there are so many children out there with severe allergies! When I was in elementary school, out of the 500 kids only my brother and I had food allergies so no one understood anything and my parents had to educate the entire staff and speak with the principal. We were segregated sometimes and they did not have any official plans for emergency situations but things have changed so much by now.
I agree, it is not professional at all to conduct themselves this way and you should not stand for this. There are a multitude of activities that teachers can do that do not involve food at all and in all honesty, it would probably be an easier clean-up for them anyways! You should definitely consider a meeting with the principal...your daughter has the right to feel safe.

_________________
Associate Editor at Allergic Living.
Allergies to all nuts and legumes except soy and green beans.


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 Post subject: annoyed
PostPosted: Wed Jun 25, 2008 10:29 am 
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Joined: Sat May 20, 2006 1:40 pm
Posts: 149
Location: Toronto area
A bit of advice - don't go straight to the principal, make an appointment with the teacher and let her know what you heard and how disappointed you are. After you have spoken to the teacher, make an appointment with the principal to let him know and tell him that you have spoken to your child's teacher. Ask him to ensure that the teacher your child gets next year is on board with the school's allergy policy.

boys' mom


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Jun 25, 2008 6:52 pm 
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Joined: Mon Mar 13, 2006 10:47 pm
Posts: 58
Hi,

I've been wanting to share some thoughts on the topic of classroom and allergic kids for a while and this thread inspired me to put some thoughts down. I hope I don't offend anyone ... it's easy to misinterpret 'tone' in writing. Here goes:

As parents of kids with allergies (in my case multiple anaphylactic allergies, many that are contact reactive) we are on pretty steep learning curves. We learn to scan our children's bodies and read our children's cues in a way that few others can. Though we've learned to obsess about calling manufacturers, reading and re-reading labels, asking 'the right' questions, most of us have had our "Oh s---, I didn't even THINK of that!" moments and we've made mistakes. Sometimes as a result, our children have had reactions. Some hives only, some worse. On this forum, we've shared feelings and frustrations resulting from the daunting tasks of keeping our children safe.

As a former elementary teacher, I can tell you that a LOT goes on in providing fun, enriching and meaningful learning for kids. I believe most teachers are very well meaning (they're not in it for the $$$!) and do what they can to take care of the students in their classroom. They do what they 'can'. I have to ask a question that I know I'm not going to be too popular for ... but let's not lose sight of the fact that there are other children with important needs too ... not just our own. How would you, if you were a teacher, remember all the special circumstances of all your students all the time? I'm not just talking about , anaphylactic food allergies (imagine what a challenge it is when there are multiple and different ones in a classroom) but also about kids that have other food restrictions. And the needs of other exceptional learners. Add to THAT curriculum needs. Sure, one option is to do away with food. But sometimes it's hard to remember that doing away with food means doing away with play dough, soy based products (many pencil crayons, some crayons, some paints), and activities like paper mache etc.. A person who isn't intimately aware of allergies wouldn't think to read labels on art supplies (I never did, until my son came along). Of course a teacher is going to feel frustration and yes, s/he may make mistakes (we have and we're parents!) and s/he may share these frustrations with others. We do it too. I can understand that it is disappointing, but is it possible that the teacher was just sharing feelings like we've all shared, rather 'complaining' about your child?

Instead of sending this teacher 'to the Principal's office', I would ask the Principal to do what s/he can to get more EAs in classroom where there are kids with anaphylactic allergies. Our children have special circumstances that effect not only them, but everyone else around them. In my opinion, having been on both sides, I understand that when I trust other people with my child, I'm increasing his risk. It's not a question of fairness. It's a matter of fact. We can't eliminate the risk, but having an EA to replace the vigilance and due diligence you do is a more reasonable option that will set up more teachers (and students) for more success.

Here's another perspective to try on:

To what extent would you feel equipped to safely accommodate my child? I won't list all his allergies, but let's just pretend they are milk, wheat, eggs and soy (in addition to peanuts and tree nuts, which most schools are trying to get a handle on). He's contact reactive. He'd react to crumbs of bread etc. He'd also react to sharing a crayon that was touched by a child who ate a sandwich/cracker for lunch and didn't wash hands properly. Play dough and most pencil crayons would be out of the question. He'd even react to someone sneezing on him after eating cereal with cow's milk/soy milk at home for breakfast. Again, to what extent would you feel equipped to safely accommodate my child? Would you feel confident inviting him to your own home (even though you have first hand knowledge of managing anaphylactic food allergies) - let alone your classroom where you are caring for several kids - knowing that he'd be walking into a minefield of 'invisible' allergens?

This is not so much in response to this one particular post, but to all the ones I've read about people being disappointed with teachers/schools (and yes, I've also read a few positive stories) Teachers are caring for and 'educating' children of families who aren't in a position to (or choose not to) take on that very important responsibility themselves. An extra grown up in your child's classroom - intimately aware of your child's unique needs - wouldn't 'eliminate' any risks outside the safety of your home. But that person could certainly help minimize the risks. Let's give teachers what they need to do their job safely and do it well.

I hope I haven't said anything too out of line. I'm still hopeful that one day my child will be able to enjoy being out in the world safely and school will be a safe place for him. If you made it this far, thanks for reading.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Jun 25, 2008 9:30 pm 
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Joined: Fri Jun 13, 2008 10:16 am
Posts: 7
Location: Winnipeg
Thanks for all the responses everyone! There are some really good perspectives.
In terms of the post from Panacea, I totally understand what you are talking about. I taught in an elementary school for 10 years before I had my kids and I know that many schools are striving to have effective anaphylaxis policies in place. We chose my daughters school because they actually took her allergies seriously. Other schools simply said that she should stay home during certain activities and that she couldn't sit with other children for lunch, etc.
That being said, my problem with this situation was with the teacher talking to other parents in the class about my daughter and what a pain in the butt it's been to have her in the class all year. This is unprofessional. In all my years teaching I would have never spoken to another parent about one of my students - never!
I understand that dealing with multiple food allergies is daunting for anyone, especially if you have never dealt with it before. I remember sitting in my daughter's allergists office crying when we first found out about her allergies because I was so overwhelmed.
I think it is important for the schools and the parents to work together all the time on this one - not as much as possible, but on a continuous basis.
I never once asked for there to be no food in the classroom this year, I only wanted the common decency of a phone call from the teacher if they were going to be doing an activity that involved food.
In today's world there are many special needs that teachers are dealing with, but anaphylaxis is one of the only life-threatening issues that is prevalent in today's classrooms.
Keep the responses coming - this is a good conversation!


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Jun 25, 2008 9:54 pm 
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Joined: Tue Mar 22, 2005 11:17 pm
Posts: 6455
Location: Ottawa
Panacea- I appreciate your perspective and I don't think you have said anything out of line. :)

That being said, I don't see how an EA will make my child safer if she is expected to handle items that are possibly covered with her allergens.

What I would like to see is more time allowed for hand washing. This is something that would benefit all students as it is the best defense against viruses and infections. Alas, it takes precious time to herd 20-30 students through the sink. It also requires that resources be stocked.

I can appreciate that with ADHD, dyslexia, or tired and hungry children to try to teach, food allergies are just a part of the equation. I don't expect huge changes to the class structure. I do ask that some thought be given to reduce the risk of exposure and that doesn't mean to have to remove all art supplies but that some thought be given to food items used in lesson plans.

I believe that keeping the lines of communication open and keeping the tone one of mutual respect is important. I truly believe that it is possible to teach a lesson while keeping all of the students safe.

I agree that it is difficult at times and it can seem over whelming but when a teacher feels the need to vent about this, it should be in the teachers lounge with his/her peers and not to a parent of another student. If a nurse was over heard complaining to a relative about how much work it was to look after another patient, you can be sure that this would be frowned upon.

_________________
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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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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu Jun 26, 2008 9:29 am 
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Joined: Thu Mar 03, 2005 9:38 pm
Posts: 1643
Location: Toronto
_Susan_ wrote:
IAsk for a meeting with the new teacher (either in person or by phone) prior to the school year starting so that you can discuss issues before they arise.


This is not always as easy as it sounds. I have given up on attempting a *before the year starts* meeting or even phone call with a teacher.

I had things set up in June with the new teacher. Something happened (can't remember what) and I discovered that between June and mid-August there were major changes in the class list. I called the school attempting to speak to the new teacher. I did get in touch with the principal who refused to give a message to the teacher to contact me. It had something to do with the teachers collective agreement.

Instead, I ended up in a crowded school-yard the first day of school with an epi-trainer and asking the teacher to show me how to use it. (All staff is trained, but since I don't know who trained them, I want proof.) In my son's case, I can then book a meeting for later in the week. I realize with food allergies you can't wait.

ETA: This was with the TDSB.

_________________
self: allergy to sesame seeds and peanuts
3 sons each with at least one of the following allergies: peniciilin, sulfa-based antibiotic, latex, insect bites/stings


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri Jun 27, 2008 10:04 am 
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Joined: Sat Oct 01, 2005 8:55 pm
Posts: 412
Location: Vancouver, BC
Could it be that the teacher was complaining about how awful allergies are and how much she has to do in a school to keep her students safe, rather than your little girl? If she was blaming your little girl for having allergies, then she was totally inappropriate. Not professional, bad, bad bad. She shouldn't have said it. On the other hand... some people like to gossip and stir things up - why did the other person even tell you this? I work in a kindergarten class and all day long I say "Are you telling me this to get someone into trouble, or get them out of trouble?" when the kids tattle on each other. Why did this person tell you this? Not to make your child safer, cos it's the end of the year; not to make you feel better, because now you are never going to think about that grade one teacher the same, or your child's year with her the same. It will always cast a bad shadow.

I know that for me, having allergies is hard, and the changes we made in our life were hard, and I have told many, many people over the years how negatively allergies are affecting me, and how much I have to do. But I am not doing it in a way to blame my son, but it is possible that if someone heard me complaining over how long shopping now takes, etc., they might think I am blaming my son. If someone wanted to be mean to my son they could say "Hey, I just heard your mom complaining that she hasn't eaten peanut butter and chocolate ice cream in 10 years cos of your allergies." My son would be upset with me and the person who said it would get away with it, but it was really them who was nasty.

Or the teacher could be a real B****!

One thing I have found helpful to keep my son safe is to tell the teacher that I will volunteer to do all the shopping for her. That way I could control a lot of the food that was being brought in to the classroom. The teacher would just call me and tell me what she needed and then I would buy whatever it was, a safe brand that my kid could have too. The teacher was happy to have one less thing to do, and I was happy cos I didn't have to worry.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri Jun 27, 2008 10:06 pm 
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Joined: Tue Mar 22, 2005 11:17 pm
Posts: 6455
Location: Ottawa
Good point aaronsmom about why the other parent told the FA parent on the teacher.

You're right about assisting the teacher by being a resource. Keep the lines of communication open between you and the teacher and offer what you can to help her to keep your child safe.

_________________
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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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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sat Jun 28, 2008 5:31 pm 
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Joined: Mon Mar 13, 2006 10:47 pm
Posts: 58
_Susan_ wrote:


I don't see how an EA will make my child safer if she is expected to handle items that are possibly covered with her allergens.


The EA wouldn't make your child safer, but s/he would serve as a surrogate you ... how many times have we had to remind our spouses, parents, parents-in-law of our children's allergy protocols? :wink: If there is an oversight in the classroom and an activity is planned that could pose a risk, the trained (by you) EA would be right there, dealing with it as appropriately as you would (at least that's the hope). The teacher, I'm sure, would also feel so supported by this.

Like I said, our children are at risk as soon as they are away from the safety our vigilance provides. Classrooms (especially primary classrooms) can be especially risky with cross contamination issues occurring innocently (like a milkshake cup left accidentally on a shelf by the cleaning staff the night before etc.), let alone direct contamination possibilities (like the bird feeder activity).

Logistically, hand washing in a primary classroom can be time consuming and can take away valuable programming time. The EA can also support this task. In addition, the EA can make sure the child s/he is responsible for has a freshly wiped table chair every morning and as required.

It's not a 'perfect' plan, but certainly would make me feel more comfortable sending my kid to school. :)


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