Trying to manage your child’s food allergy now that school has started can cause worry and anxiety. However, there are several steps you can take to ensure your child’s health and safety and minimize your worries. With extra planning, you can prepare yourself, your child, and your child’s school to manage food allergies and know what to do in the event of an allergic episode.
Teachers receive basic training with regards to food allergies, but it’s important to teach your child’s teacher and school about your child’s unique allergies and treatments. Food Allergy Research & Education (FARE) provides suggestions about how to protect your child at school.
Educate Yourself About Your Child’s Food Allergies
Know as much as possible about your child’s food allergies. Dr. Langford can educate you on the following and more:
- The foods that cause allergic reactions in your child
- The symptoms your child exhibits when having a reaction
- The words your child uses to describe his or her allergic reaction
- How and when to use the correct treatment, such as epinephrine
In addition, teach your child what you know about his or her food allergies. As your child grows, teach him or her to manage allergic reactions and consider allowing your child to carry epinephrine with him or her.
Give an Information Sheet to the Teacher and the School
Create a comprehensive list of information regarding your child’s food allergies and give copies to the teacher, school nurse, administrators, or anyone else who could need it. Go over the sheet and ensure everyone knows how to avoid and/or manage allergic reactions. Dr. Langford can assist you in creating this sheet, but here is some helpful information to include:
- All the foods your child is allergic to
- Symptoms of your child’s allergic reaction, including the phrases he or she uses to describe a reaction
- When and how to deliver treatment
- Contact information for you, your child’s allergist, and emergency medical services
In addition, provide one or more epinephrine devices or additional medication to the school. You should know where the epinephrine is stored, who can access it, and who can administer it.
Help Your Child’s Teacher Reduce Food Allergens in the Classroom
Talk to your child’s teacher about how he or she can reduce food allergens in the classroom. Some ideas include:
- Non-food rewards such as stickers, erasers, pencils, etc.
- Providing safe snacks that do not include allergens
- Implementing rules against food-sharing
- Encouraging hand washing
- Cleaning surfaces after food is eaten or used