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PostPosted: Mon Nov 27, 2006 1:37 am 
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Joined: Tue Jun 20, 2006 12:10 am
Posts: 15
Location: Richmond Hill, ON
Connor has a peanut allergy. We were lucky that it was caught during some 'routine' allergy testing because of his asthma. The doctor has been following up with blood work for the past almost 2 years since he was diagnosed. At first the blood work showed it to be a very mild allergy. 6 months later it had escalated to moderate. By that time he told me he didn't like peanut butter because it made his mouth tickle (he hadn't had any since the diagnosis but it was only by this time he had the words to explain it). We have been very good reading labels, we have no food that has any sort of peanut warning on it. The only thing we were a bit lax with was Timbits. He'd never had a reaction to them, and occasionlly we got them as a treat. He had his last blood test in August and when we saw the doctor in September, we found out that his allergy had escalated to severe. So, that definitely meant no more Timbits since Tim Hortons says any products may have been in contact with peanuts. Since this was the absolute only thing that had any kind of warning that he'd eaten in the last year, we figured this must have had something to do with the allergy escalating to severe...

Connor started JK in September. We had so much paperwork to fill out because of his allergy, things filled out and signed by us, and the doctor, anaphylaxis protocol forms, information sheets for his classroom and the office. He has an Epi-Pen stored in the office and one on him. A letter was sent home on the first day of school that a child in the class had a peanut allergy and no peanut products or anything that may contain or have come into contact with peanuts were allowed in the classroom.

Connor is very good about asking if something contains peanuts if it's not something he normally eats, and often if it is something he eats, he checks too. But he's also only just turned 4, and doesn't quite get that Mommy telling him it's ok to eat and another classmate telling him something doesn't have peanuts aren't the same thing. So we've been talking to him daily about not taking ANYTHING at all from other kids. If Mommy & Daddy or Grandma and Grandpa C or Grandma F tell him it's ok, he can trust us and eat it. His daycare teacher is great too and if there is any uncertainty at all, she doesn't let him eat something (sometimes kids bring snacks from home, or parents bring in treats for birthdays). Other parents have been great - one family spent a fortune on cupcakes from a nut-free bakery so that Connor would be able to eat them .

We also told him that his teacher at school knew he had a peanut allergy, so if there was anything being fed to the class, only eat it if Ms G says it's ok.

Well, a couple weeks ago, Connor tells Daddy that he had Timbits at school on Friday for someone's birthday. My husband first got mad, upsetting Connor (which he's now realized was not the best response!), and Connor was crying, "I told Ms G I'm not allowed but she said it was ok!" My husband asked him if he ate it, and he said he did. We know there are certain foods he's definitely not allowed to have, under any circumstances, like pretty much anything from a bakery that isn't nut-free... and we told him that if he knows he's not supposed to eat something, like Timbits, even if someone else tells him it's ok, if he knows he shouldn't, don't eat it. We told him Mommy & Daddy are the only exception to this rule.

Anyway, I wasn't 100% sure whether to believe Connor, thinking there's no way his teacher let him have something that may have been in contact with nuts. But my husband asked the following Monday when he dropped him off at school and she confirmed that yes, the class had shared TimBits. My husband told her he cannot have any baked goods whatsoever unless there is a label that says it's peanut-free. The same day my husband talked to her about this, Connor came home with a cupcake that someone had brought in for the class. He brought it home in a Ziploc bag and told his brother (2 1/2) "I brought this for you cuz it might have peanuts in it so I can't eat it."

I'm so mad at the fact that his teacher let him have a Timbit and that when anything potentially with peanuts is not supposed to be in the classroom, they allow people to bring in treats that are not 'safe'. It's one thing if 1 kid had something in their lunch, but when it's something for the entire class... And when the note went home at the beginning of the year, it upsets me that parents, having read this, would bring something in that has a warning label. Nothing happened this time, but it could...

I felt pretty confident that he'd be taken care of at school, that his teacher would be looking out for him, and that we shouldn't have to worry too much. Now I'm really worried... The teacher didn't realize Timbits carry a 'may have been in contact with nuts' warning (since it doesn't say on the box, only at the store). I understand she didn't know. But my husband talked with the teacher and principal in a meeting before school about his allergy and how he wasn't allowed to have anything unless it was known for sure that it did not have peanuts (a label saying "Peanut Free")

I just feel like tearing out my hair right now... And I'm mad that Connor stuck up for himself, told his teacher he couldn't have the Timbits because they might have peanuts and instead of maybe thinking twice about it, told him, no, they're ok! Why would someone do that?! And I'm mad at myself for being too naive and trusting that I didn't need to worry about him at school :oops:

Now what do I do to make sure this doesn't happen again?

_________________
Mom to 2 boys:
Connor, 5, asthma, allergic to peanuts, cats, dogs, dust mites, and summer moulds
Eric, 3 1/2, no allergies


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PostPosted: Mon Nov 27, 2006 6:57 am 
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Joined: Tue Mar 22, 2005 11:17 pm
Posts: 6429
Location: Ottawa
Yes, it's scary.
First, give Connor a big hug and tell him he did a great job keeping himself safe.
Now that you know the teacher doesn't understand what is safe and what isn't, you may have to rethink your policy regarding treats at school.
Personally, My husband and I had found the learning curve was too great for some Grandparents and teachers and we simply tell our daughter that unless mommy or daddy OK the food, she isn't to eat it.
Can you speak to your school regarding treats? If they seem to happen with regularity perhaps you could send a container of safe treats for Connor to have. Our school told us this wasn't necessary as they only allow fruits and vegetables for snacks now. (I send a small package of skittles in her backpack just in case).
We have also stopped telling our daughter to say, "No" to offers of unsafe foods but instead to say, "My mommy and daddy won't let me." In this way she doesn't feel she is disobeying an authority figure but simply stating a fact. Semantics yes, but I've found it makes a big difference.
Good luck with the school.

_________________
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: Mon Nov 27, 2006 9:39 am 
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Joined: Sun Mar 05, 2006 1:05 pm
Posts: 528
Location: Burlington, Ontario
Hi Tara,

Sounds like your little guy is very responsible, but that his teacher has a lot to learn. Try to provide her with some documentation perhaps, to make her more aware of what is acceptable and not acceptable. Perhaps you could also suggest that they send home a letter stating that no treats for the classroom will be accepted for health reasons. (My younger daughter's school refuses any home treats, to help not only anaphylactic children but all children. Parents are not allowed to bring any fast food at luch either. I guess some parents would run to McDonald's and drop off a Happy Meal for their kids and for the sake of the kids' health, they are not allowing this practice any more.)

There's nothing wrong with allowing only fruit and vegetables for snacks.

Good luck, Tara.

_________________
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: Mon Nov 27, 2006 11:38 am 
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Joined: Sat Apr 16, 2005 12:09 am
Posts: 1054
Tara wrote:
... The teacher didn't realize Timbits carry a 'may have been in contact with nuts' warning (since it doesn't say on the box, only at the store)...

I just feel like tearing out my hair right now... And I'm mad that Connor stuck up for himself, told his teacher he couldn't have the Timbits because they might have peanuts and instead of maybe thinking twice about it, told him, no, they're ok! Why would someone do that?! And I'm mad at myself for being too naive and trusting that I didn't need to worry about him at school.


Hi Tara and welcome to the forum!
Call me harsh -- but I'm not so forgiving of the teacher and her saying "she didn't realize" that Timbits may have come into contact with nuts. You guys seemed to have covered all of your bases, making it very clear to staff and administration that your son should only eat food clearly labelled "peanut free". The key word here is "labelled". If a food item doesn't have a label (Timbits, home made treats, etc.) then the food is not given to your son. It doesn't take someone living with food allergies to know that Tim's uses nuts in the making of their donuts.
The fact that your four-year-old son was responsible enough to tell his teacher that he shouldn't eat the treat is so impressive! I agree with Susan that it's important to praise him for self-protecting so well and explain to him that it was his teacher who made the mistake by giving him the Timbit. We've also done what Susan has and told our son that he should only eat food that mom and dad have given him -- grandparents / aunts / uncles are excluded because we wanted to make the rule as clear and simple as possible. Although our extended family is super careful, we know that they don't live with allergies everyday and mistakes can happen - they would be sick if they gave him something in error that could have potentially caused any harm (we don't want them to carry that burden). Our son isn't yet in school, and because I'm not sure how he would handle the situation if someone offered him food, we've tried prepping him with Susan's "my mom and dad won't let me" to take the pressure off of him.
Reading your post reminds us all that regardless of how "on top of it" the school policy and administration seems to be -- we need to remember that we're still dealing with people who aren't perfect and who are projecting their own beliefs and attitudes onto situations.
My advice to you would be -- firstly, don't be so hard on yourself! Your son is fine and didn't have a reaction. Take this situation as a learning experience - it clearly is an indication that your son's teacher has more to learn about LTA and keeping your son safe. I would suggest a sit-down meeting with the teacher and the principal to discuss what transpired and all the reasons why it can't happen again. I think a formal sit-down meeting will have more of an impact and have more staying power. Perhaps until you have regained some trust in the teacher, indicate that your son shouldn't eat anything that hasn't come from home. It makes it real simple for her.


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PostPosted: Mon Nov 27, 2006 11:42 am 
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Joined: Wed Aug 10, 2005 11:21 am
Posts: 684
Location: Cobourg, ON
I am surprised that the teacher would take this risk. In our daughter's plan we have written that the only food she will eat is food provided by or specifically approved by us with no exceptions. Your son is very responsible. You have every right to be upset. I think you should have a meeting with the teacher and the principal. They are putting your child at risk and not reinforcing the safety lessons you are teaching him. How would they feel if they were responsible for an anaphylactic reaction? Good luck.

_________________
11 year old daughter -- lives with life-threatening allergies to milk, eggs and peanuts; seasonal allergies (birch, maple, ragweed); pet allergies; asthma; and eczema
9 year old son - no allergies


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PostPosted: Mon Nov 27, 2006 7:33 pm 
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Joined: Sat Sep 16, 2006 6:50 pm
Posts: 205
Location: Ontario, Canada
How stressful for you. It sounds like the school has a pretty good plan but I don't get the impression that your son's teacher fully understands the scope of Connor's allergy or anaphylaxis. I suggest speaking to her and providing her with some reading.

_________________
daughter: 6 years tree nuts, peanuts


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PostPosted: Mon Nov 27, 2006 10:05 pm 
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Joined: Tue Nov 29, 2005 4:04 pm
Posts: 2044
Location: Gatineau, Quebec
I second everything that everyone here has said. Definitely praise Connor for what he did - that is very impressive for a 4-year-old - and definitely go over the rules again with the teacher. Treat it as a learning experience - allergies create a huge learning curve for everyone -- especially those who aren't living with it day in and day out).

Your story sounds soooo familiar to me from our first year at school with my oldest. The teacher really didn't get it at first and I'm sure she truly thought we were hysterical first-time parents (she said as much without using the word hysterical). The daycare teacher gave him pumpkin seeds (after we'd told everyone NO FOOD) - and he vomited everywhere. That's how we confirmed his pumpkin seed allergy. The kindergarten teacher gave my oldest "just a touch" of chocolate during an experiment... We had a meeting with her after that (especially when my research showed that the chocolate may have contained traces of nuts). But - and this is important - we kept the lines of communication open and actually were friendly at the end of the year. It's pretty miraculous when I think back on it. (Actually, I think that thing that saved us all was the fact that my kids go to school in French and back then my French wasn't great - so even if I had a mouthful to say, I didn't say it!! Those people have NO IDEA how lucky they are that I wasn't very confident in my French. :lol: And if I'm honest, I'm lucky too - I might have burned a few valuable bridges...)

I really like Susan's phrasing of "my parents won't let me" - that's a great little tool for a little kid to have in his/her allergy toolbox!

And I definitely recommend having a treat box. We didn't clue in to that handy tool until my oldest was almost done kindergarten (didn't have this forum to help me then), and through the years we've been told by teachers that won't be needed - but of course it's been used lots, and while it's not quite the same thing as having what the other kids have, it's better than nothing. I much prefer the "zero treats in the classroom" policy but sometimes even then things sneak in...

Anyway, I send you a big hug. It's hard, I know. You guys deserve a pat on the back for doing so many things right!

K.

_________________
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: Tue Nov 28, 2006 1:19 am 
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Joined: Tue Jun 20, 2006 12:10 am
Posts: 15
Location: Richmond Hill, ON
Thanks for all of your responses - one of things that has bothered me about his teacher is, on the first week of school we got a school-wide newsletter sent home. There was an article about food allergies, and a list of the teachers with 'extra' knowledge in dealing with anaphylaxis and administering Epi-pens. My son's teacher is on that list... So I guess I just assumed that I wouldn't have to worry.

We had a meeting at the school, not for this specifically, but for a JK "interview" (we had to go visit the classroom for an hour and had time to talk to the teacher). We stressed that he can not eat any snacks brought in to the classroom, only what comes in his lunch. And if something is going to be served at school, we need to know about it in advance (his class went to a farm and they picked vegetables at the farm which they made into soup the next class and all of the kids got to try it - I told her something like that is ok when we know in advance and can make sure we know what is going in it, but only if we know in advance).

I will definitely send some treats in for him. He doesn't usually care - other people feel bad when we're in situations where others get a treat and he doesn't (we usually have something with us but there have been times we've forgotten)... He is so good about his allergy - all we have to do is say "I'm sorry sweetie but this might have peanuts in it" and he's ok with not having it, even if there is nothing else to eat. I think I'll pick up some Rice Krispie squares or something to keep at the school.

Connor says he will tell his teacher (or anyone else) "My mommy and daddy won't let me eat that - it could make me sick". We've been talking about this for about a week, how proud I am that he told his teacher, and if something like that ever happens again, if someone doesn't listen when he says he's not allowed to eat it, to tell them "Call my mommy and ask her". Hopefully it doesn't come to that...

I worry about Connor at school because my son who is super outgoing with adults has shocked us by being the shy kid at school... but hopefully his comfort with grown-ups will mean he will continue to stick up for himself... At daycare, other kids stick up for him and help him - one little girl told him some kid brought peanut butter toast to daycare - she wanted to make sure Connor didn't go near that kid's cubby... But he doesn't know anyone at school, and I don't think his allergy is known to the other school kids like it is at daycare...

But I guess we take all of this day by day and deal with it as best we can :)

_________________
Mom to 2 boys:
Connor, 5, asthma, allergic to peanuts, cats, dogs, dust mites, and summer moulds
Eric, 3 1/2, no allergies


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PostPosted: Tue Nov 28, 2006 9:37 am 
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Joined: Sun Mar 05, 2006 1:05 pm
Posts: 528
Location: Burlington, Ontario
Quote:
But he doesn't know anyone at school, and I don't think his allergy is known to the other school kids like it is at daycare...


Tara, perhaps you could ask the teacher if you could read a book about allergies to the children or make a presentation to explain the situation to the children.

As you know, children get it faster than adults (that always amazes me!) and they will then be able to help Connor.

_________________
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: Tue Nov 28, 2006 6:59 pm 
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Joined: Sat Sep 16, 2006 6:50 pm
Posts: 205
Location: Ontario, Canada
All teachers in Ontario must be trained in anaphylaxis each year. But the training does not seem to be consistent. Here ia a link to an e-workshop on anaphylaxis put on by the Ontario Ministry of Education and Training. It's a pretty good resource for teachers.

http://www.eworkshop.on.ca/cfmx/edu/ana ... n/sc_2.cfm

_________________
daughter: 6 years tree nuts, peanuts


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PostPosted: Thu Nov 30, 2006 10:23 pm 
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Joined: Wed Nov 22, 2006 10:26 pm
Posts: 89
Location: Toronto
First I just want to say that you scared the bejeebers out of me! My son will be starting school next year and I am already losing sleep and having nightmares for the reasons you listed! Here is an idea regarding b-day celebrations in the classroom...ask the teacher for a list of birthdays for the students in the class. This way, you can keep track of when to expect a birthday treat coming into the classroom and send your own from home. Also, you can remind the teacher the day before/day of the birthday that your son is not to have any of the treat. If an issue of privacy comes up, just ask for the dates, not the names of the students (although many kindergarten classes have the dates posted somewhere in the room anyway!) Also, regarding the epipen in the office. I did note that you mentioned your son keeps his on him all the time, however for those parents who choose not to have their child carry an epipen on their person and rather have one in the office or classroom...remember - the office and classroom are usually kept locked during for example, lunch hours. Please be cautious about where the epipens are kept and that they are easily accessible when needed instead of having to search for a caretaker with a key to open a room.

Ang
3 1/2 year old son anaphylactic to nuts


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PostPosted: Fri Dec 01, 2006 12:57 pm 
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Joined: Thu Mar 03, 2005 9:38 pm
Posts: 1643
Location: Toronto
Ang wrote:
ask the teacher for a list of birthdays for the students in the class.

Please be cautious about where the epipens are kept and that they are easily accessible when needed instead of having to search for a caretaker with a key to open a room.

Ang
3 1/2 year old son anaphylactic to nuts


In most of the primary classes I have been in for the last 5 years, there is usually some form of calendar with all the children's birthdays marked on it.

Also Ang, I noticed you're in Toronto. I just wanted to mention that a lot of the schools in Toronto allow children to wear their own epi-pens. I recommend looking around now for a carrier you want for it. My son has been wearing an epi-pen around his waist since he was in jk. A second pen is kept in the office -- not locked.

_________________
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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PostPosted: Fri Dec 01, 2006 5:01 pm 
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Joined: Tue Nov 29, 2005 4:04 pm
Posts: 2044
Location: Gatineau, Quebec
As well, the new anaphylaxis guidelines recommend that children have their EpiPen / Twinject on them as well.

See http://www.allergysafecommunities.ca/de ... atsubid=22

I realize it's a bit challenging when they are really little, but my guys have worn theirs since before kindergarten. I really do feel the safest thing is to have at least one EpiPen / Twinject on the child at all times when they are at school.

K.

_________________
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: Sat Dec 02, 2006 9:55 am 
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Joined: Sat Sep 16, 2006 6:50 pm
Posts: 205
Location: Ontario, Canada
I agree about carrying the Epipen on the child at all times ( although I'm not sure how reliable my little one will be about that). There is often a lot of movement out of the class during the day at school ( gym, French, library, assemblies etc.) . It can be hard for a teacher to remember to get out the Epi each time.

_________________
daughter: 6 years tree nuts, peanuts


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PostPosted: Sun Dec 03, 2006 1:05 am 
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Joined: Tue Jun 20, 2006 12:10 am
Posts: 15
Location: Richmond Hill, ON
When Connor's allergy was just mild, we didn't worry about him having the epi-pen on him as much - but since we found out the allergy has become severe, we made sure that 2 are available. Daycare and the school both have them locked up, and he has the one he carries on him. We don't have an extra one at home, just the one he carries on him, because we don't keep any foods with any kind of peanut warnings here. I suppose we probably should have an extra one just in case though...

I was reading on another message board about a woman who said she took a picture of her son during an anaphylactic reaction and she uses that to show people how serious her son's allergy is... I think I have a hard time really drilling it into people that this is serious because Connor has never had a reaction. It's all speculation... the blood work shows the allergy to be severe, but we don't know what would happen... He's had a tingling mouth before and nothing more. And it's possible that could be the only reaction he'd ever have. And it's possible that it could be a lot worse than that. My friend told me that I'm too nice about this when I'm talking to people and that I'm not assertive enough... I know I fumble a bit when people say "but you don't know for sure that would happen..." because they're right, I don't know... I'm trying to be more assertive about this and I tell people, "You're right, I don't know. But why would we risk the possibility?" I know I need to be more assertive to effectively advocate for my son, and I don't think I'm doing a very good job at it...

_________________
Mom to 2 boys:
Connor, 5, asthma, allergic to peanuts, cats, dogs, dust mites, and summer moulds
Eric, 3 1/2, no allergies


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