Wednesday, May 29, 2013
Food Allergies: Taking a Minute to Reflect on the Last Day of School
However, as the year draws to a close without a reaction, I like to take a deep breath and enjoy what went right. For those of you who have sent your children to school for the first time this year, you are probably feeling a special sense of relief now that it's over. As someone who has been managing and helping my child manage food allergies at school for nearly 8 years now, I can tell you that it does get easier, especially as kids get older and more able to speak up and care for themselves. That doesn't mean I never have worries, and now we have new challenges like an overnight field trip next year for 8th grade.
But for now, I've got all of that on the back burner. I'm simply thankful that things have gone well. I encourage you to thank your child's teachers and any others who have helped you child manage allergies and/or asthma this year. It's always nice to say "thank you" to the health office workers, too. They've probably gotten to know your child well because they of their formal health plans and medications at school. Let them know that their concern and care are helpful.
On a housekeeping note, don't forget to bring home your child's medications and any new health forms. If you plan to go to a new school or are going to school for the first time next year, please click this link for some helpful information. Most school offices stay open for a few weeks after the last day of school, but after that it may be difficult to speak to anyone at school until the fall. So if you have anything you need to take care of, now is the time!
I'm sure that all of us have things we wish had gone differently but hopefully summer will give us some perspective on how things can be better handled next year. One tip is to join your school's PTO--if you can, get on a party committee. You'll be in a much better position to navigate food allergies and voice your concerns. So many times, people just aren't aware of the role that minimizing food plays in keeping kids safe and included.
If things went well for you this year, it's no accident. It means that you and your child did a great job of handling things and it also means that you have established good communication with your school. And let's be real: some schools are more allergy aware than others. If you found yourself in the position of food allergy "pioneer" this year, then I know you had your share of challenges (I've been there!). Hats off to you!
Life with severe food allergies can be challenging, but as you meet each challenge, it's great to celebrate the little victories. Tell your kids that you are proud of them--and be proud of yourself, too. Whether it was communicating with school staff, providing allergy-friendly food, educating your school about allergies or even sharing your story with other parents, you did your part to help your child have a smooth school year. I admire you all!
For more on navigating life with severe nut allergies, click this link for my complete e-book guide.