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Planning for Food Allergies

09/26/2017 12:29PM ● Published by Digital Media Director

By: Brenda Nour, South Dakota Food Allergy Connection

Back to school - a simple phrase that carries with it a plethora of feelings and memories for any given person. It reminds me of crisp fall air, the faint sounds of the marching band practicing in the distance, the confidence boost derived from a carefully orchestrated first-day outfit and the overwhelming anticipation of all the possibilities for the year ahead. As a parent, the excitement and anticipation is still very much present, but it’s also paired with a hearty helping of worry and stress. We worry about our child’s academic readiness, social life, behavior, opportunities, over/under involvement, bullying and safety. The list goes on and on.  

Parents of children with food allergies have a few additional items of concern. We live each day assessing the environment our child is in, taking note of food present or being consumed by others, wiping down surfaces, checking and double checking to make sure we have epinephrine with us at all times. As we send our child off to school, we are now trusting others will take the same intentional care of our children. In doing so, there is some prep work and thankfully numerous resources to help each family decide what’s needed for their child.

A couple of highlights and must-haves:

·         A 504 Plan is must for any child with a food allergy. This outlines the plan and interventions the school will put in place in order to keep the child safe. It may include provisions about seating at lunch, classroom snack alterations and notification of other parents about any food restrictions to follow, among other specifications.

·         Medications (e.g. epinephrine) may be needed for your child in the event of a reaction. These should be provided to the school along with your school’s specified medical forms.

·         Special diet or other forms may be required by your school. It’s important to contact them to know what you need to complete prior to the start of the school year.

·         Communication is imperative. Speaking with your child’s teacher, school nurse and administration directly to be sure they understand your child’s needs and to establish a positive working relationship with common goals is important.

A supportive school community is the most impactful to the child. 

Fellow parents and students can:

·         Show understanding and compassion for the seriousness of food allergies.

·         Respect any policies put in place.

·         Support the child, understanding they did not choose to have food allergies, they do not desire to inconvenience anyone, and they deserve to feel just as safe and cared for as any other child.

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