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 Post subject: High School Week One
PostPosted: Sun Sep 06, 2009 6:04 pm 
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Joined: Thu Dec 20, 2007 7:23 pm
Posts: 822
Location: Kingston
My son has just entered high school. He is doing GREAT. His high school has an allergy policy. We have met with the VP who is responsible for the allergy policy and its implementation. She was very open to our suggestions and we will continue to meet with her in the upcoming weeks/months.

I am not listing complaints. I am just listing our first week experience so parents know they still need to meet with the Principal or VP and make sure things are communicated. A walk around the school is also a good thing to do. High schools are very busy places and allergens are just one of the many things that high schools deal with on a daily basis. The high school has been very responsive to any concerns we have raised and have taken immediate action.

I will give you a quick glimpse into week one.

Husband and son went to get courses changed. The student services area which has signs everywhere saying no food or drink had those small crank vending machines where you can buy loose candy. One of the machines sold Reese’s peanut pieces. This machine has been removed. All other vending machines were checked and now none have peanuts or nut products. HURRAY!

Met with the VP to better understand how his teachers know about his allergy and to insure they are trained. Find out that his chart which lists medical information (yes we filled out all the forms in Feb. ) does not list anaphylaxis.

There are no provisions for luncheon table or a classroom set aside for him to eat. We were instructed that he should eat at his locker. For some reason we thought "Oh OK." Then when our son gets home from his first half day of school he says where do I eat lunch tomorrow. We say eat at your locker with friends and he says well they all eat at the cafeteria or Tim Horton’s, they don’t want to hang out at their locker and eat. We are working on this one.

One of his teachers thinks he should be able to give himself the epipen. My son actually went through the correct procedure with him and explained that he may not be able to give himself the epipen and that the teacher should make sure he can give it and can also call 911. I was proud of him.

The school is open to starting a buddy system so other students can recognize signs and symptoms and can get trained to give the epipen.

I must admit I am one of the few parents who were glad it was a short week. It had given us more time to talk and discuss strategies and plan for the weeks ahead.

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Mary


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PostPosted: Mon Sep 14, 2009 7:31 am 
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Joined: Thu Dec 20, 2007 7:23 pm
Posts: 822
Location: Kingston
We met with the principal and the vice principal becasue there is no where for my son to eat. There were also a number of other concerns that we had and needed to discuss. The meeting was very positive and both the VP and Principal want to help.

I am trying to find a speaker (someone young rather than a mom/dad figure) who can come in and speak /train and raise awareness. They would present to student school council, peer tutors and also athletic leaders, about 50 students. This would help raise awareness with the older students about anaphylaxis, signs , symptoms and how to administer the epipen.

We are in Kingtson. I sent an email to K. Dine but it bounces back. Can anyone suggest a dynamic youth speaker? If so can you give me the contact information?

Mary

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Sep 14, 2009 7:52 am 
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Joined: Fri Oct 10, 2008 9:40 pm
Posts: 2034
Location: ottawa
If you are looking for a presenter our daughter is your gal. Look under this Schools forum and click on One Proud Mama :D
I think we could manage a trip to Kingston, we are in Ottawa.
Quote:
The meeting was very positive and both the VP and Principal want to help.

I am so happy for you to be dealing with positive school members (vp and principal). Hopefully all your concerns can be met in a timely manner and without issue.

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DD 12 yrs -no allergies
4 yr old DS - asthma/eczema Anaphylactic to Peanuts, all tree nuts, sesame , all pea/lentil legumes, gelatin.
Allergic to trees, grass,ragweed, feathers, dander, mold and dust.
Outgrew eggs, fish, shellfish


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 Post subject: Re: High School Week One
PostPosted: Mon Oct 19, 2009 12:30 pm 
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Joined: Thu Dec 20, 2007 7:23 pm
Posts: 822
Location: Kingston
We have now entered week 6 of high school. It brings with it new occurrences of risks and adaptations. We find high school is challenging because there is less information available for parents on what events are going on PLUS parents are not encouraged to volunteer during the school day. We attend the school council meetings and that is where we find out about upcoming events and fundraisers. We also signed up for the electronic newsletter which also provides a source of information.

We are also really fortunate as the administrators want very much for our son to enjoy his high school experience and to be included in events. The administration at the school is very open to ongoing communication and adjusting their processes. It does require ongoing effort and education. I also find that the student leaders are really open to adapting things so that is also very encouraging.

HICCUPS
The cafeteria – they have regular food fights with food being throw at anyone and everyone most of the time. Some of the kids say they hardly ever touch their lunch with their hands as their friends just throw it into their mouths. Eating is game. Needless to say our son does not want to be in the cafeteria. I noticed this practice with the older kids at a summer program I ran. The younger kids ate their food in smaller groups and cleaned up after themselves. The older kids had food all over the floor
Kids share food all the time and they pass food around and over my son’s lunch so he is reluctant to eat with the group as he is concerned about stuff dropping into his lunch. Kids also just reach into each other’s lunches and take food. They don’t wash their hands. They just help themselves so this also raises a concern.
The kids try not to bring peanut/nut things but their parents (many of whom we have known for years) pack peanut products. Most of the kids are kind enough not to eat it if our son is with them and they are really good at reminding each other.
I had read on occasion that when students attend high school their friends change. This is proving true as there are a lot of new friends mixed in with old friends PLUS there are many more opportunities for kids to participate in clubs. So you have to find a way to discuss educating their friends at a time when they are looking for more independence and also not wanting to be different.
The VP called the bus company to make sure the bus driver was trained to give the epipen and knew how to recognize the signs and symptoms. The company said he was. In her wisdom she went down to check with the driver to make sure. He had not been trained. So I am still driving my son to and from school until he is trained. A date for training has been set.

They had a breakfast in the home ed class one day as a special event for home form. The “allergy kids” were told they could sit in the hall and do fun crosswords.

EDUCATION
The school has sent out a letter to all parents in regards to not sending peanuts/nut products with their child. Note: there is no enforcement in place nor will ther be any. It’s up to the students to adhere to this rule. In the older grades the teachers will discuss the content of the letter. The administrators have organized a workshop with peer tutors and members of the student and athletic associations to increase awareness of anaphylaxis among student leaders. Kyle Dine is being hired to do a workshop later in the semester with about 50 students leaders/peer tutors. All staff completed their annual review/training for anaphylaxis/epipen. A scenario for the required emergency medical response practice involved a student experiencing an anaphylaxis reaction.

So as you can see there has been a lot of work done by the school and there are a lot of new things we have had to do to come up with solutions. I must say it is a bit overwhelming at times but we are encouraged because there is an open dialogue.

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Mary


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 Post subject: Re: High School Week One
PostPosted: Mon Oct 19, 2009 3:10 pm 
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Joined: Fri Jan 30, 2009 12:20 pm
Posts: 44
Location: Kingston
Do you mind me asking which high school you are dealing with? I ask because I have 2 dd's with "issues". One who is severely asthmatic and may be latex sensitive (we go for patch testing next week), and the other who is anaphylactic to multiple mosquito bites. I noticed that we both live in Kingston.

In 2 years, my older dd will be changing schools and going to a bigger school (within the French Immersion system) and may be headed to the local high school, and I am just curious if this could be problematic.

So far, we have had pretty good experiences at school (except one instance last year with a removal of the little one's medic alert). This year has been EXCEPTIONAL with the teachers and their understanding with the kid's medical issues!!

Good luck in educating the staff and peers at the high school!!

I'm off to make a quiz/information bite for my local Sorority sisters for what I have to deal with in regards to adult onset anaphylactic allergies/asthma. Trying to teach them about the other side of "cross contamination" and that dipping ones fruit in the dip means I can't have any dip at all.... Joys!

Again - GOOD LUCK!

Dawne

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Dawne - Ana to all pitted fruits, POTATOES, strawberries, kiwis, pumpkin, apple, pear; + asthma, hayfever, migraines, fragrance sensitive
dh -nil
DD (1999) - asthma, hayfever, latex/red dye sensitive
DD (2003)- ana to mosquitos (risk all stinigng insects)


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 Post subject: Re: High School Week One
PostPosted: Sat Oct 24, 2009 1:21 am 
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Joined: Sun Nov 30, 2008 11:00 am
Posts: 1119
:thanksign Since my child is entering high school next year, your detailed information is great! I would love to hear from more parents of high school students.

The change from elementary will be huge given the proactive approach at the elementary which is not the case at the high school.

Please keep writing 8)

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


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 Post subject: Re: High School Week One
PostPosted: Wed May 05, 2010 7:52 am 
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Joined: Thu Dec 20, 2007 7:23 pm
Posts: 822
Location: Kingston
We have learned that you must beware of project presentation day in high school. This came as a big surprise to us as it was never a practice in the elementary school where our son went. Now when we hear project presentation it means touching base with the teacher right away to make sure that the students are reminded not to bring in home baked goods. (e.g. last term a student handed out homemade peanut butter bars in two classes my son was in) the same goes for semester wrap up days or in class study days.

The high school my son attends has implemented a rule change so that there is no food brought into the classroom. It is a learning curve for everyone and in most cases it is working. In fact we are very encouraged and thankful for the overwhelming support from both teachers and students. It is important though to give gentle reminders as food patterns as rewards were set early on in elementary school and have carried into the high school classroom.

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Mary


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 Post subject: Re: High School Week One
PostPosted: Thu May 06, 2010 12:52 am 
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Joined: Sat Oct 01, 2005 8:55 pm
Posts: 412
Location: Vancouver, BC
My boy is going to high school next year...why don't we set up a section for this special subject...I think babies born 1996/97 were the first of a big jump in the #'s...that's just a feeling, but it seems that a lot of us have 13 year olds.

I think the high schools need a lot of support to ensure our kids needs are met at this critical time. Yes, they are more independent, but the rules change so much so quickly at this time, that it really is a time of increased vulnerability.

I have to make an appointment to see the Principal at the High School Aaron will go to asap.


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 Post subject: Re: High School Week One
PostPosted: Thu May 06, 2010 9:40 am 
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Joined: Thu Dec 20, 2007 7:23 pm
Posts: 822
Location: Kingston
High school is so different because administration is dealing with so many issues. There is immaturity, sexuality, alcohol and drug education, peer pressure, teen angst, skipping classes, bullying, mental health, young teens on their own and many other health issues. There is also the transition from elementary to high school. The list is mind boggling. I found once I better understood the scope of what administration was dealing with we were better prepared in the way we educated them about the allergy and had suggestions and solutions for them. It’s all about team work I guess.
A dialogue with the teachers is also very important so they know who your child is and have an understanding of what “alternative to food as a reward” really means and how to carry out an emergency plan. This may mean altering lessons plans. They really do appreciate a face to face, email or phone call. They want to help as much as they can.

In the teens mind there is a need for more independence as well as new friends and new influences. They go to corner stores, fast food and pizza places for lunch. They venture out more on their own and because they are growing they can’t seem to get enough food. PLUS there is he social aspect of food becoming more central to so many outings and events, whether they be sporting, dances, class trips, etc.

It is also a transition time for parents as we learn to let go and reinforce lessons learned in the past or help them adapt to new issues. (e.g. food fights, carrying the epipen, educating their friends and peers, peers questioning the severity of the allergy or not understanding what it means) As a parent we really need to learn to listen much more and continue to teach them to advocate more for themselves. With that said parents still need to advocate for their child and step in when necessary.
Sometimes it can be difficult when all their friends decide that they want to go to Dairy Queen and they are left behind. Although a weird hairdo or crazy coloured outfit can be way cool, an epipen or Medicalert bracelet draws unwanted attention at times. Our kids really don’t want to be different and it is a lot of hard work for them at times especially as they transition into adulthood. They look ahead and sometimes feel overwhelmed. I try to keep in mind that they feel this way about many aspects of their lives and this is one extra component they must consider.
On the upside I find that the administration and the teachers really care about our son’s well being both socially and health wise. They have willingly altered lessons plans without any consultation from us . Once we engaged administration and they understood what was required they began the education process. (THANKS Kyle Dine for being part of this educational process) Both student groups and staff have created new fundraising programs that don’t include food. Reminders around upcoming events and holidays go out in the newsletter and are also communicated to student groups.

There are slip ups but they get worked out really smoothly and adjusted are communicated to all staff. All in all I think the progress since September has been really amazing.

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Mary


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 Post subject: Re: High School Week One
PostPosted: Thu Jun 03, 2010 10:11 am 
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Joined: Sat Oct 01, 2005 8:55 pm
Posts: 412
Location: Vancouver, BC
I finally got in touch with the VP of the school A is going to next year (grade 8), and it was actually pretty reassuring...They don't serve peanut products in the vending machines, the cafeteria does not serve peanuts, although they have no guarantees of cross-contamination and don't encourage him eating there (and it was good they knew this...it shows they have been told about cross contamination and the food services, as most lay people would assume that if a cafeteria doesn't have nuts, it is safe).

One thing we have in most high schools in BC (it's in the pilot project phase in elementaries and there is pushback from teachers, but that's a union issue) is BCESIS, which is awesome for kids with issues like ours, as every time their file is pulled up, to post a mark etc., their file comes up with a red square around it, indicating a health issue. So the teachers will be given visual reinforcement each time they see his file.

They have a first aide attendant on site, so I will go and see them and his teachers in September, and sneak in to confirm about the vending machines before the end of the year (I just need to see for myself), but I feel okay about the process.


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 Post subject: Re: High School Week One
PostPosted: Thu Jun 03, 2010 10:28 am 
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Joined: Tue Mar 22, 2005 11:17 pm
Posts: 6456
Location: Ottawa
Oh that's great going into summer vacation with some knowledge of what to expect! :thumbsup
It definately makes the anxiety go down.

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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: Re: High School Week One
PostPosted: Thu Jun 03, 2010 11:54 am 
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Joined: Sun May 25, 2008 4:27 pm
Posts: 300
Location: Montreal
Ah, high school! You know, at the time, the friends I made there were some of the most supportive people when it came to my allergies. I remember they used to yell at people to back away if they were eating a granola/chocolate bar with peanuts around me (we didn't have peanut bans). They would get more upset about it than me haha! I remember I was a bit nervous going into high school because I had to be more independent and stick up for myself but if your kids are surrounded by good friends, you'd be surprised how much help they can be :)

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


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 Post subject: Re: High School Week One
PostPosted: Sun Jun 06, 2010 11:05 am 
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Joined: Sun Oct 08, 2006 10:53 am
Posts: 207
Location: Winnipeg, MB
Other than first year, in high school my son was able to pretty much advocate for himself and work with his friends to ensure his own safety. He advised his teachers and administration regarding his allergies. He spoke up when he needed to. . . (girl eating pistachios in class who didn't know they were nuts :o ) Inquiried at school sponsored food related events if he planned on attending, etc.

It was really hard not be involved. You go from face to face meetings with everyone at school to this year where I'll meet many of his teachers for the first time this year at awards & convocation!

Grad is 3 weeks away and not a single incident!

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adult son allergic to peanuts, most tree nuts, eggs and penicillin.


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