Whether your child will enter Kindergarten or College, how to keep your allergic child safe in school has always been a daunting task for parents. It’s August so we’re all thinking about what we have to do to prepare for another school year.

Questions you may be asking yourself.

1. Does my allergic child need a nut-free classroom?

2. Will there be science and/or cooking projects that use eggs/milk/wheat?

3. Should I be the class parent?

4. What do I need to tell the bus driver?

My best advice is to work with your Allergist in helping to determine whether or not you will need a nut-free classroom or peanut-free table for your child. As for being the class parent? I can tell you that in the lower grades I was the class parent for two years – actually a co-class parent and it did help tremendously. But if you don’t have the time, don’t worry, everything will still work out fine.

Medication & Working with School Personnel

It’s August, so for insurance purposes now, get refills on all medications, then you’ll fill it again right before school starts (we’re on the East Coast so School will start in exactly one month!) Make sure that before you leave the pharmacy you check in the expiration date on the Epi-Pen or Twininject. It should say July 2011 or AFTER because the last thing anyone wants is a mid-year re-filling of medication (OK so it’s not the end of the world, but it’s annoying!)

Make sure you have your 504 forms filled out by your Doctor for the new school year. If it’s your child’s first year in Kindergarten, you’ll get these the first week of school, because you’ll walk in when the staff starts (usually a week or two before the start of school) and ask them for the forms! I actually always walk in before school anyhow, say hello to the nurse, and schedule a quick 20 minute meeting with all teachers for the first week of school – before school or at a time that is convenient to them. I take my husband for moral support, and he chimes in at the meeting when he feels like making a point. I also take tons of extra epi-pen trainers for the teachers and we go over how to use them at the meeting. I stress the importance of timeliness in administering the medication, and also that if its administered and not necessary it will not hurt our child.

Most public schools have very specific rules about keeping medication on hand for students, so it’s important that the forms be filled out correctly, and the medication be filled by a pharmacy near you – even the Benadryl will need to be prescription because the school will need your child’s name on it.

Before School Starts List

1. One clear plastic shoe box with  your child’s name on it (and homeroom if you have one)

2. Medication (epi-pen, albuterol, benadryl)

3. 504 Forms filled out

5. List of your child’s “safe foods”

6. List of your child’s allergens

7. Doctor’s orders on treatment along with a current picture of your child

8. In some cases you may want to gather shelf-stabilized food in case of an emergency or a forgotten lunch somewhere…(yeah, it happens!) Put that food in the shoebox with the medication

9. Remind your child how to best keep themselves safe

Allergy Free Kid Rules:

1. When in doubt leave it out

2. Read all labels

3. Eat only food from home (in some cases)

Feel better? Are we ready? Of course we are! Your kids will have a great time! I’ve gathered additional links below that may be of more help.

If you need more information on 504 plans:

http://specialchildren.about.com/od/504s/f/504faq1.htm

If you need more information or support for school staff:

http://www.foodallergy.org/section/back-to-school-tool-kit

If you have anxiety about the start of school:

http://www.allergicliving.com/features.asp?copy_id=155

http://www.allergymoms.com/uploads/newsletters/allergymoms_newsletter_06_29_10.html

If your child is starting High School:

http://www.allergicliving.com/features.asp?copy_id=43

If your child is starting College:

http://www.foodallergy.org/page/the-food-allergy–anaphylaxis-network-launches-college-network

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