Friday, August 21, 2009

Back to School Tips and a "Killer Peanut Butter Sandwiches" Article Link

Ready or not, here it comes! The school season is here or almost here and many of us find ourselves discussing our child's allergies with teachers and staff.

You will definitely want to print out this article by Linda Coss: "Attack of the Killer Peanut Butter Sandwiches" to bring along with you. It's a terrific explanation of what allergic kids (and parents) are up against at school and it takes the non-allergic point of view into account.

I'm on my way to a meeting on Monday (we begin school on Tuesday). I've been through several of these meetings already and have learned what to ask over the years. Here are a few "talking points" as you get ready to talk to the school about your child.

- Your child must carry the EpiPen at all times, to every location in the school. This is law in many states; for others you may be required to have a doctor's note. In any case, make sure that your child's teachers understand the need for an accessible EpiPen--every second counts. No locked cabinets, no "we only keep it in the health office." Explaining how a reaction works helps; a doctor's order will clinch the deal.

- Which staff members and teachers have EpiPen training? And will you use it? Asking them these questions helps identify what you may need to advocate at your school. It's been my experience that all staff are trained at our current school, but as schools all have different rules, please find out. Offer to train them or to have the nurse/health aide do a training. Make sure your child's teacher is comfortable using the EpiPen and ask what you can do to make her/him more comfortable. It's crucial.

- What are your emergency procedures? Get the exact details. You may discover that you want to revise these a bit.

- Please follow our Food Allergy Emergency Plan. Available at the FAAN website, this is the life-saving "go-to" guide if someone suspects your child is having a reaction.

- What's the "treats schedule" for the year? For example, any special holiday or event celebrations? If you can nail it down early, you'll be prepared to deliver safe treats to your child's classroom if necessary. You really don't want to be stuck making food at midnight. It makes you cranky.

- Make sure that you mark down the expiration dates for your meds--and ask if the school has a "reminder" policy for this. Many schools do, but you should be the one who really is on top of this so there are no gaps where your child is at school without their EpiPen. Just mark it down on your calendar for two weeks before it expires so you have plenty of time to get new ones.

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