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PostPosted: Tue Feb 26, 2008 11:39 pm 
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Joined: Sat Apr 14, 2007 12:02 pm
Posts: 15
Location: U.S.
We are considering a school that boasts of not informing their families about which child has the life-threatening allergy, so as not to stigmatize. We understand this socially and maybe legally, but, from a safety standpoint, we think people will discover it anyway and are better off knowing, at the start of the year, which life could be in jeopardy, to help avoid accidents.

Current classmates knew (through the grapevine) early on, and took pride through the year in making choices that helped protect her life. We figure their direct knowledge and experience equips them to be sensitive to it thru the years. (That said, we do suspect this awareness compromised the number of birthday party invitations.)

Which is better - publicly informing all families (for safety reasons) or supporting the school's decision to try to keep it quiet?


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PostPosted: Tue Feb 26, 2008 11:53 pm 
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Joined: Tue Mar 22, 2005 11:17 pm
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Location: Ottawa
Personally, I have always believed that awarness is always better. It is helpful for the students to know as they might be the one to tell an adult.

If they want to eat at the allergy free table with their friend, then they need to know what to avoid.

Our daughters birthday is at the end of September and we usually have the party outside of the home. Because we invite many children, the chance of reciprical invites is high. Our daughter is also coniving and many a children has promised to invite her for the rest of their lives if she invites them in return.

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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: Wed Feb 27, 2008 9:27 pm 
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Joined: Sat Oct 01, 2005 8:55 pm
Posts: 412
Location: Vancouver, BC
I'd rather be "stigmatized" for a health issue that was out of my control then dead or having reactions, if I was a child with food allergies and had to depend on the adults around me to make sure I was safe.

Sorry to sound harsh, but I don't get why people assume that the truth is somehow hurtful. Allergies are something that kids need help from their community with, not something to be ashamed of. We don't say "oh, don't wear glasses, you might be stigmatized as someone with poor vision, don't wear your hearing aid, someone might notice."

I vote No to that school. Find somewhere that accepts all people's differences and accommodates them.

As I say, sorry to be harsh.


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PostPosted: Wed Feb 27, 2008 9:40 pm 
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Joined: Tue Nov 29, 2005 4:04 pm
Posts: 2044
Location: Gatineau, Quebec
I have a real problem with this approach, myself. I actually think it creates more of a stigma to act like it is something to be ashamed of. That might sound harsh, but that is how I feel.

Not all health conditions have to be shared, because what other people do around them doesn't impact the person with the condition. If I have XYZ, and there is nothing that others will have to do to help me during a crisis, I agree that it's none of their business.

However, if I have severe food allergies, and I collapse because of a reaction, but no one knows that I am allergic, precious moments are wasted as people try to figure out what the heck is going on. Maybe they figure things out, and I get my medication. Maybe they don't... Anonymity is a really bad thing at that time. If people at Sabrina Shannon's school had been more aware of her allergies (she was new to the school, and many people were not yet aware that she was at risk), and faster at reacting to her allergic reaction, she might still be alive today.

Anyway, I am a big fan of people being aware, not just of anaphylaxis, but also that there are people at risk. Anaphylaxis needs faces to go with it. Otherwise it's just a word, and people can find it pretty easy to ignore a word.

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 28, 2008 6:39 am 
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Joined: Mon Oct 29, 2007 11:56 am
Posts: 120
Location: UK
For me ti would depend on the schools allergy policy, what are they doing to keep their allergic children safe?
I assume they already have allergic children within school, and have kept them reaction free at school for a long period of time.
certainly if they have no prior experience of a child with food allergy, that would colour my view of this school.


As for our experience, we didnt adverstise the fact that william was allergic, I concentrated on the staff at the time.
we got party invites, and I handled those parties by individually talking to the parents.

I attended many , and as he moved on with the same children, he was invited to those parties.
One mother made sure that all the food was kept simple and totally safe for my son.
Its building a relationship with the parents that supports you as well as the school.


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PostPosted: Thu Feb 28, 2008 7:08 am 
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Joined: Mon Oct 29, 2007 11:56 am
Posts: 120
Location: UK
another thing to consider is your childs confidance .
if you have informed every person about your childs allergy, its ok when younger , what practice in informing others about thier allergy do they get?

Early practice , the child telling their trusted friends is quite important really.


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PostPosted: Thu Feb 28, 2008 7:59 am 
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Location: Ottawa
The teen years are a time when we change from being the dependant child into the responsible adult. In order to do this, the child must start to distance herself from the parent and assimilate with hers peers. It is also a time where the brain is undergoing great change in part due to a hormonal shift. In order to create the desire to leave the nest, the child must be brave and take risks. This is normal but in the case of food allergies this is dangerous too. The child is not trying to be like this, she is hard wired to behave this way.

It is for this reason that I do not want my child to determine the protocol regarding who and when people are aware of her condition. I am not one to broadcast her information widely. I have been quoted in articles a few times and ask that they change her name because the article is not about her but her condition. At school, however, it is different. It is about her. It is about people around her being aware of what may happen and how to avoid it.

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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: More on peer awareness
PostPosted: Thu Feb 28, 2008 6:39 pm 
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Joined: Sat Apr 14, 2007 12:02 pm
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Location: U.S.
My post has been getting thought-provoking replies indeed.

I would like to add this question - if peers are aware, how concerned should we be about bullies or classmates who make dangerous decisions because they don't get the gravity of the situation?

For example, I read about a school where "everyone" knew about a first-grader's peanut allergy. During the year, a classmate smothered peanut butter all over the allergic student's lunchbox "to see what would happen." This is probably another reason why some schools think it's best (and legally protectionist for the school) if peers do not know.

How would you respond if this rationale was presented to you?


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PostPosted: Thu Feb 28, 2008 7:39 pm 
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Joined: Tue Mar 22, 2005 11:17 pm
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Location: Ottawa
I would reply that it is bullying and as such the school is responsible for dealing with the behaviour. I would also concider where the lunch box is stored, who has access to it, who supervises the students, teach my child how to deal with scenarios where her lunch is contaminated etc.

I would ask the school what they plan to do to deal with the issue first and then I would advise them if I felt it was sufficient or make my wown suggestions.

Could I ask that the student in question be required to eat the same restricted diet as my child for a week with a ziplock baggie full of rat poison on the plate? (Hey, it's sealed)

Seriously, my daughter has had her lunch contaminated at daycare by another child who kept trying to taste her food (a side affect of having the most interesting lunch) she never ate a bite again, came home very hungry and told us. She keeps her lunch bag in her backpack at her desk. In higher grades I would expect it to be locked in her locker (I will request no shared locker). I even send several wet wipes (cut in half) in a zip locked baggie with a second baggie for the soiled ones. She doesn't have to go anywhere to wash her hands before and after eating.

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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: Fri Feb 29, 2008 4:03 am 
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Joined: Sat Oct 01, 2005 8:55 pm
Posts: 412
Location: Vancouver, BC
Young children are some of the most helpful, concerned people you could ever hope to meet. They LOVE to help. Once they are a bit older, not so much.

If you say to a small kid, we have to help our friends, or they will be hurt, that means something to them. There are always exceptions, and bullying does exist, but if there is no tolerance for it, it is less of a problem.

Small children are impulsive, and accidents happen. The most important things people with food allergies can do are always wear their Epiens, and make sure their asthma (if they have it) is well controlled. No school can guarantee that reactions will not happen. That being said, they can do a lot to create a positive, supportive atmosphere for all the children who attend their school.

I would question the value system of someone who, when faced with a child with a health condition, seems to be throwing up roadblocks, and making the parents more anxious then they already are.

Some children have pushed other children in front of buses, but if an administrator pointed that out to me when I was attempting to register my child at his school, I would wonder about what s/he was really trying to say.

Why don't you check out a few other schools in your area and see if you get the same kind of feedback, or if some seem a bit more helpful and positive.

Having been there, done that, I can tell you that having a school that is supportive of your child's needs is really important. It doesn't mean that mistakes won't happen, but it is hard to be met with apathy when you feel your kid's life is on the line.

There are many great schools, and great school staff, but there are some duds, too. Trust your gut, if your gut is telling you that it's not the right place, (and if you were confident about it you wouldn't have written this post), trust that feeling.

It will be easier to do your homework :lol: now and shop around now for a good situation then after your child has started attending school.


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