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PostPosted: Wed Feb 18, 2009 2:27 am 
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Joined: Tue Jun 26, 2007 2:45 pm
Posts: 805
Location: Vancouver, BC
Our local school currently has one child with a peanut allergy, but his parents are very relaxed about the whole thing. He has an epipen in the office, but it's locked (all the teachers supposedly know where the key is hidden) and there are posters in each classroom that list his allergies as well as other children's medical conditions. That's pretty much it. They even sell peanut and nut products in their snack bar, and the parents have no problem. They don't want other children to be resentful because of changes made to accommodate their son.

So, I have quite a lot of work ahead of me to get the school ready for DD (ana to peanuts) who starts K in September, and my DS (ana to nuts, peanuts) who will be going to the school two years later.

I had a brief conversation with the principal who seemed receptive to making necessary changes and she said she thought that having a peanut free school would be possible. I don't think she has thought it all through yet, but at least seems accommodating.

What I'd like to do is:

1 - find alternative products for the snack bar so there are no tree nuts or peanuts (may contains are OK for me as my kids are not going to eat them).

2 - send a letter home to the parents to ask them kindly not to send peanut butter (especially) and possibly all nuts to school with their child. This letter may end up only going to the class that DD is in instead of the whole school - haven't decided yet. Should I request no tree nuts (for DS who will be at the school 2yrs later) or should I just wait until then? Would be less confusing, but more restrictive to also limit tree nuts.

3 - try to have all the children wash their hands before and after eating - I believe there are sinks in every classroom, but I don't know about the lunchroom, which is where they eat their lunch.

4 - if we decide to go with a peanut-free classroom, instead of the whole school, make sure my DD's class sits at the same lunch table every day so there's less risk, and make sure the custodial staff cleans their tables first.

5 - have my DD wear an epi pen fanny pack and make sure all the teachers and staff are trained on symptoms and epi pen usage, probably by me and the public health nurse. Ensure substitutes get trained by someone, maybe the school secretary.

6 - I'd like to introduce a birthday party policy, but not sure if this will go over well. The school's goals are health and fitness so at least that is on my side.

7 - Ensure special celebrations and festivals have safe food.

Please let me know what you think of my plan, and if I've covered all the bases? Thanks so much for reading my very long post!

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DD 2004 Allergy to peanuts, egg, sesame, and new: lentils and chick peas
DS 2006 Allergy to peanuts, tree nuts, milk, egg, kiwi fruit, eczema


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PostPosted: Wed Feb 18, 2009 7:57 am 
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Joined: Tue Mar 22, 2005 11:17 pm
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Location: Ottawa
Alison, before you go reinventing the wheel (which you still may have to go), check out this thread http://www.allergicliving.com/forum/vie ... php?t=2827

and this document:
http://www.allergysafecommunities.ca/pa ... p?catid=11

Re: your specific questions
1 - There are lots of foods out there that advertise themselves as peanut free. Look at allergen friendly brands such as Dare or what about selling fruit or yoghurt?
2 - This will depend on the school policy. You may want to ban certain types of foods and not outright ban all peanuts/tree nuts. I would stick to the issues at the moment and establish a positive working relationship with the principal. You can intorduce other safety measures as necessary.
3 - The public health department should have some good handouts on handwashing. This is a great idea!
4 - "make sure my DD's class sits at the same lunch table every day so there's less risk, and make sure the custodial staff cleans their tables first. " Great idea!
5 - It is imperative that her auto-injector be close at hand and that the school employees know how to use it. Get a belt now and get her used to it. The prinicpal should have all staff trained (it might be a different teacher on yard duty when a reaction occurs). Check the ministerial order.
6 - Our school suggests a class donation of a book for birthdays. Kids are just as happy to get stickers
7 - Our teacher this year had each student decorate a paper lunch bag and bring it home for the parents to put a special treat in it for the celebration. I think this is a great way to allow every child to participate!

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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 18, 2009 8:24 pm 
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Joined: Tue Jun 26, 2007 2:45 pm
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Location: Vancouver, BC
Thanks Susan. Yes, I've read both resources you mentioned. I've found sample school plans, but never one that has the exact details of what will be done and what will be involved. I'm trying to weigh out the risks and benefits of asking for the school to be peanut / nut reduced VS not restricting what other kids bring, but asking for more handwashing, awareness around the allergy, plus all the other issues I brought up in my original post.

The issue of only peanuts VS tree nuts is sort of important to me because I know that either way, there will be comments (oh, they're restricting tree nuts even though she's not technically allergic to them OR oh, first peanuts, now tree nuts - what's next that we won't be able to bring?)

My daughter is very sensitive and gets upset easily if someone teases her. I'm concerned for her physical safety, but also for her emotional well-being if we make changes in the school and other kids take it out on her. I know that we can get the principal/teachers/nurse or myself to educate the other children, but some children can be mean regardless.

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DD 2004 Allergy to peanuts, egg, sesame, and new: lentils and chick peas
DS 2006 Allergy to peanuts, tree nuts, milk, egg, kiwi fruit, eczema


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PostPosted: Sat Feb 21, 2009 12:23 am 
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Hey Alison's Mom
For some suggestions I would first get together with the child's parent who already goes to that school and suggest the idea and then if the school has a meeting go to it and raise the issues in the meeting and see what other parents think of it first because i think, unless any of the are really ignorant, would understand what you are asking for. Have you also disscussed how severe your DD's to the principle and also bring that up in the meeting. I would ask for an all out peanut free school because you never can be too sure about cross contamination. Also i agree about more awareness should be placed in the school. I sorry to hear that your daughter teased i know how it feels at my work a couple of guys call me "nuts" cause of my allergy but you will face many ignorant people in your life i guess you kinda of cry and try to shake it off and remember that people who say bad things aren't worth your time. Also i think that having an auto injector is very important they actually have auto injector carriers like E-Belt. And remember that isn't impossibe to get a school peanut and nut free we've done it and hopefully you can too.
Good luck :wink:


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PostPosted: Tue Feb 24, 2009 8:26 pm 
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Location: Vancouver, BC
16Nonuts wrote:
Hey Alison's Mom
For some suggestions I would first get together with the child's parent who already goes to that school and suggest the idea and then if the school has a meeting go to it and raise the issues in the meeting and see what other parents think of it first because i think, unless any of the are really ignorant, would understand what you are asking for. Have you also disscussed how severe your DD's to the principle and also bring that up in the meeting. I would ask for an all out peanut free school because you never can be too sure about cross contamination. Also i agree about more awareness should be placed in the school. I sorry to hear that your daughter teased i know how it feels at my work a couple of guys call me "nuts" cause of my allergy but you will face many ignorant people in your life i guess you kinda of cry and try to shake it off and remember that people who say bad things aren't worth your time. Also i think that having an auto injector is very important they actually have auto injector carriers like E-Belt. And remember that isn't impossibe to get a school peanut and nut free we've done it and hopefully you can too.
Good luck :wink:


Thanks for the insights. I've already had a conversation with the other allergic mom, and she has no problems with the school as is - she also told me she didn't know who was trained on the epipen, so that got me a bit worried! I'm a bit concerned that once we ask for parents not to bring in peanuts, they will say 'XYZ also has a peanut allergy, but HIS parents are not asking for a peanut free school'. However, I'll just have to deal with that when the time comes. For now, I'm trying to be really active in the school's PAC so at least people know who I am, and know that I care about the school. I think once people know you, it's easier for them to be sympathetic to your cause.

Yes, I actually brought up this issue at the last PAC meeting, which was just after I started this thread. One of the parents there said he was ana to strawberries and strongly believes schools should be free of any food if it's life threatening to a child. Others seemed to agree, so at least the PAC is sold on the idea. The principal also told me not to worry, that between us we would make sure everything is in place to keep my children safe.

We got our kozy epi belt in the mail the other day - I'll spend the next few months getting my daughter accustomed to wearing it so by September she'll be an old pro.

The preschool teachers have been just wonderful and there hasn't been any teasing about allergies (that I know of). What I meant in my above post is that she's really sensitive to teasing of any kind and I know she'll be devastated if people bully her for being the reason they can't bring peanut butter to school, etc. I need to work on wording the letter to parents so hopefully they'll convey the message to their kids in a way that is respectful to my daughter.

_________________
DD 2004 Allergy to peanuts, egg, sesame, and new: lentils and chick peas
DS 2006 Allergy to peanuts, tree nuts, milk, egg, kiwi fruit, eczema


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PostPosted: Wed Feb 25, 2009 8:08 am 
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Quote:
she's really sensitive to teasing of any kind and I know she'll be devastated if people bully her for being the reason they can't bring peanut butter to school, etc. I need to work on wording the letter to parents so hopefully they'll convey the message to their kids in a way that is respectful to my daughter.


It is for this reason that the school needs to have a policy so thatthe reason the students can't bring peanut butter to school is not because of your child but because the school has a policy against it. You should not be writing a letter but the principal should.

Trust me, the school does not want to have to deal with a medical emergency and the trauma tot he JK students who witness it. Having a clear policy supports the teacher just as much as it supports you.

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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 25, 2009 8:38 am 
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Posts: 1119
If they have not already had the Kindergarten information night I recommend that the letter be handed out and addressed that night.

We had a situation where the letter was not handed out until school started and a student brought a banned food the first day.

The letter should definitely come from the school. We have witnessed few problems from other students - they have been really supportive. Unfortunately there are some parents who are inconvenienced but patience and education has helped...

It really helps to get parents to educate on your behalf who have children in the school but not with allergies. I was an advocate for other kids before my child developed her allergies and since I was not emotionally invested it really helped the parents. So when hanging out to drop off the kids in Kindergarten and I saw a student with peanut butter residue on his face I quietly talked with the parent and explained the dangers of that for the child with allergies. Because of that I strongly recommend you ask that something be included in the letter about washing hands and brushing teeth etc before school. Because the kids are not within school jurisdiction when they eat at home I doubt you could say "don't eat peanut butter before school". But as an advocate for others I did say that to parents :)

Now I do work in a school and we have mandatory refresher each year on epi-pens, asthma, diabetes etc.

I still bring my epi-trainer and expired epis and oranges to my 12 year old's teachers and coaches and ask if they want a refresher. No, I'm not a medical person but I say "This is how I was shown..." and typically even those that don't think they need to try a real epi into an orange thank me because it is different than a trainer.

_________________
me: allergic to crustaceans plus environmental
teenager: allergic to hazelnuts, some other foods and environmental


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PostPosted: Wed Feb 25, 2009 2:23 pm 
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Joined: Tue Jun 26, 2007 2:45 pm
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Location: Vancouver, BC
_Susan_ wrote:
Quote:
she's really sensitive to teasing of any kind and I know she'll be devastated if people bully her for being the reason they can't bring peanut butter to school, etc. I need to work on wording the letter to parents so hopefully they'll convey the message to their kids in a way that is respectful to my daughter.


It is for this reason that the school needs to have a policy so thatthe reason the students can't bring peanut butter to school is not because of your child but because the school has a policy against it. You should not be writing a letter but the principal should.

Trust me, the school does not want to have to deal with a medical emergency and the trauma tot he JK students who witness it. Having a clear policy supports the teacher just as much as it supports you.
Yes, the letter would definitely come from the prinpical, but I would probably write at the least the 1st draft for her to make sure it contained all the information that I want in it.

_________________
DD 2004 Allergy to peanuts, egg, sesame, and new: lentils and chick peas
DS 2006 Allergy to peanuts, tree nuts, milk, egg, kiwi fruit, eczema


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PostPosted: Wed Feb 25, 2009 2:33 pm 
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Joined: Tue Jun 26, 2007 2:45 pm
Posts: 805
Location: Vancouver, BC
Thanks Walooet - really good advice. I didn't think to hand out the letter with the K orientation, but that's a great idea, so everyone knows ahead of time.

Yes, I was planning to say 'please don't send any nut/peanut product' as well as to say 'please have your child wash their hands and wipe their face if they eat peanut butter for breakfast' We are still fairly new at the school but since I'm a SAHM, I do go there to pick up/ drop off and at least the preschool classmates are already used to being nut-free and many of the parents have been great. I'm hoping they will educate other parents given the opportunity. I'll mention this to the PAC as well.

Also, I like your idea about the expired epis and oranges. We definitely have expired epis to use for this purpose!

Thanks again!

_________________
DD 2004 Allergy to peanuts, egg, sesame, and new: lentils and chick peas
DS 2006 Allergy to peanuts, tree nuts, milk, egg, kiwi fruit, eczema


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PostPosted: Thu Feb 26, 2009 1:13 am 
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Posts: 21
Location: Brampton, ontario
I have moved a few times and unfortunately had the experience of trying to put emergency plans in place at several schools because of it.
I have learnt a lot along the way and life is certainly easier now when it comes to educating schools about allergies. Anaphylaxis Canada has great resourse as well as lesson plans for the students. There will always be parents of allergic children who are complacent, who knows why, but you may not get support from them. Look at the school board policies and phone to speak to the appropriate person at the board. If you get someone from the school board to help you then it comes across better. Ask for an allergy safe school and tell them you understand there is never a guarantee. The kids are usually not the problem, it is the parents. The kids are the ones who go home and tell their parents that " Jane" is allergic to nuts etc. There are great story books and videos that the teachers can show the kids to help them understand. My daughter school held an assembly and told them about Erika coming to the school. They did an amazing job of explaining about the allergies and how Erika is just like any other kid. Erika is not bullied and if she was they have a zero tolerance against bullying for any reason.
The school asked for donations of lysol wipes and the kids wipe down their desk after snack and lunches. The younger kids will not be able to do this so stricter guidelines need to be in the classroom. Have the health nurse come in and talk to the kids about allergies, handwashing etc and talk to the staff about epi-pens etc. The main thing is that there is an emergency plan in place if anything should happen. Who will administer the epi-pen, who will call 911, who will do crowd control etc. We have colour coded teams for each area of the school. If Erika is in the south end of the school then it is the red team etc. Knowing the symptoms is very important, first sign of a reaction administer epipen. Hope this helps. Which school baord are you with?

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Daughter Erika ( 12) Allergies: all nuts, peanuts, all legumes, fish, shellfish, bananas, spinach, mulitiple antibiotics, asthma, eczema, heat and exercise reactions. Mulitple environmental allergies


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PostPosted: Fri Feb 27, 2009 1:45 pm 
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Location: Alberta
You might also try the local chapter of the AAIA, as they have "train the trainer" volunteers who are trained to educate on allergies and anaphylaxis. Ask the principal if you could arrange a session for the teachers the week before school starts (teachers are in that week, right?).

You mentioned that someone was in favour of banning all foods that are life-threatening, but I would be careful with this one - next year there may be a child anaphylactic to milk or eggs, and do you really thing everyone would be able to comply with that? No cheese, yoghurt, butter on sandwiches ... I say this because my son is anaphylactic to milk, is in Grade 3, and has never had a reaction at school (he is allergic to nuts too). I was worried before he started kindergarten, but have found that starting with his teacher is the best route, and over the past few years his classmates have been allowed to practice with an Epipen trainer. We haven't banned milk products from his classroom ever, but his fellow classmates have always been very aware and helpful (except for 1 incident in Grade 1). I was afraid that asking for a food ban would make him a bully target and also - it's really impossible to truly ban a food, as people are so unaware of all the things to look for on a label.

The most important step of all is to reinforce to all staff, classmates, and especially your own child to never, ever eat food that has not been sent from home. When food has been used on treat days, rewards, etc, I've always had "safe" snacks stashed with the teacher so my son can be included. I try and volunteer on all treat days like Halloween, Easter, Valentines, and then my son can sometimes eat foods in the class because I'm there to OK them. My son's class won an ice-cream party for being the top fundraising class, so I asked the co-ordinator if she could be him some Soya Ice Cream, and she did! I also volunteered to be the scooper, as that was potentially a very dangerous situation as you can imagine - melting ice cream everywhere, all over kids' faces and hands .... but my son was perfectly fine as long as he didn't eat any of it, and most importantly, he was included. All the kids washed up afterwards, but I made sure the desks were cleaned off as well as door knobs, etc.

It's also a MUST to wear the Epipen. 1 viewing of the NFB Canada DVD Sabrina's Law will reinforce the importance of that measure! I've never asked permission for my son to wear it either, it has just been a fact that he wears it. Sometimes food reactions can be delayed up to a few hours (Sabrina's was delayed), so the reaction could start on the playground at recess. Does the school really want to have someone run it to the locked drawer in the office for an Epipen??

We've also never sent letters, as once again, I've read about situations where this has created more animosity from the parents, and has created a very hostile school environment for the child. I think by taking this approach, staff has been very willing to help us - although every year his teacher says "I've never had a kid with a milk allergy before". Education in the schools with regards to allergies needs to improve! But I'm not convinced that food bans are the way to go.


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PostPosted: Sat Feb 28, 2009 7:48 am 
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I agree with Momtobunches that it's nearly impssible to request school bans for all food allergies.

We focus on the issue of reducing the risk of exposure. Peanut butter is often banned because it's just difficult to clean up properly (have you seen the usual cleaning efforts?)
We ask that there be no sharing of foods in the class, and that no one (student/teacher/volunteer etc) give our child any food which has not be OK'd by my husband or I. By this I mean OK'd each time not, "I know you've given her this in the past."

Our daughter has milk allergies which she does react to on contact and she has had an anaphylaxis reaction to ingestion once. Her school has a milk program and she has never reacted.

We had a pretty hard time when she was in JK and SK but since then we've had changes in the principal (the former retired) and am increase in the number of students with food allergies.

The new principal is very allergen aware as is the new teacher. I am active on the school council and so I am very approachable for anyone who has questions regarding food allergies. (this was my only motivation for being onthe council)

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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: Sat Feb 28, 2009 11:36 am 
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Location: Alberta
I became very active on our school council as well, with precisely the same motivation! I wanted to achieve a good relationship with the principal and other influential parents based on something other than being the "Mom who says her kid has a milk allergy, but we're sure it's just a lactose intolerance". It's been a year now, and I'm finally feeling like I'm ready to "make a move" because they now know me as a rational, reasonable person. However, I still made sure that I had one-on-one time with my son's teachers on the 1st day of school every year, brief them, give them a few days, then have a more lengthy discussion about the necessary procedures in the classroom.


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PostPosted: Sat Feb 28, 2009 4:52 pm 
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Location: Vancouver, BC
Thanks everyone. I really like the great ideas that are coming forward, and will definitely use them.

Regarding the "banning all foods that are life-threatening, but I would be careful with this one". These are just the words of a parent on the PAC, not what I had asked for, and not what the school policy will say. So, if there is a situation in future where a child is ana to milk, for instance, other measures will be brought in instead of a milk ban.

I will definitely send in safe snacks for my child in case of treats given out at school, and ensure that nobody gives her food that was not approved by me first.

I'm also active on the parent council, and for the exactly the same reason as others mentioned. Well, I maybe would have joined it anyway, but the allergy issue definitely gave me an extra incentive!

London Drugs has a allergy/asthma program where a pharmacist comes in to talk to the kids and what to do in an emergency, and one of the school's staff is actually trained through Anaphylaxis Canada, so I'm sure she can train the other staff.

Regarding this statement: "We've also never sent letters, as once again, I've read about situations where this has created more animosity from the parents" I assume you mean that *you* didn't send letters, but instead had the principal send letters? As opposed to say no letters were sent home to parents? Yes, the letter would come from the principal as a new school policy, and not from me. I would probably just draft it to make sure all the points I wanted covered were on there.

The school also has anti-bullying measures in place, so that's a plus.

There won't be an issue with my DD wearing an epibelt at school. I'm just wondering about it from her point of view - I know it's best to wear it AT ALL TIMES, so obviously in the classroom, and recess / lunch hour, etc, but if they are doing gymnastics in PE, or swimming, or something like that, what do we do? Do I make her wear it over her ballet outfit during dance class, or can I leave it with her bag? Is there an issue with wearing it while riding in the car, as in, does it prevent the car seat straps from being tight enough? We have a Kozy epi with room for 2 epi pens, BTW.

Thanks again everyone.

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DD 2004 Allergy to peanuts, egg, sesame, and new: lentils and chick peas
DS 2006 Allergy to peanuts, tree nuts, milk, egg, kiwi fruit, eczema


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PostPosted: Sat Feb 28, 2009 4:53 pm 
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Appreciation goes a long way too. Too often we need to make requests and sometimes complaints so I make a point of thanking anyone who has helped us!

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me: allergic to crustaceans plus environmental
teenager: allergic to hazelnuts, some other foods and environmental


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