You read it right, High School. High School is another world, and, thankfully, our daughter is loving it. Her multiple life-threatening food allergies were diagnosed when she was six months old. While it has certainly defined and changed my life during the past thirteen years, she has never known anything else. We have had a Food Allergy Action Plan since she was a baby.

**8/8/12 – Edited to add: if you do not know what food allergy induced anaphylaxis is, please read my post entitled ANAPHYLAXIS AND FOOD ALLERGY HERE.

Last week, her second week of High School, for the first time, she asked me why she has so many food allergies. While everyone has something, hers are unlike anyone else’s that we’ve met, and that while we know WHY she has them (family history), we’re unclear why she has so many. For the first time, she remarked that she was special because of her food allergies. Special, yes, and a constant source of pride for my husband and I. We admire her bravery, courage, and resiliency.

How does our Allergy Free strategy differ for High School from Elementary or Middle School? The difference is we did not meet with all of the teachers for a short presentation and Q&A. This year, I contacted and met the parent coordinator (click here for more info), the nurse, and the guidance counselor. I made sure all of the paperwork was filled out, emergency card was handed in before school started, our Food Allergy Action Plan was complete with a picture of her (there are 4,000 students in her High School), medications were filled and labeled properly, and dropped off at the school. I also typed a letter for the guidance counselor to hand out to our daughter’s teachers via email.

Here is the email…

Our daughter, who  is thrilled to be in your school this year, also happens to have life-threatening food allergies to the top 8 food allergens as defined by the FDA, as well as Asthma. You will be receiving a list of her food allergens, if you haven’t already, along with a Food Allergy Anaphylaxis Plan filled out by her Allergist. In the past, my husband and I have met with teachers before the start of school to help answer any questions teachers may have had; we are always available to take your questions by phone or email as well. 
Most people look at the list of thirty foods and wonder what Phoebe eats. She eats a lot of food, trust me! 
She is NOT airborne allergic, so far, which means she does not react to the presence of food protein in the air at this time.
She IS contact allergic to some food items, which means she MAY get hives to some food residue on desks. In the case of hives without breathing trouble, a simple washing of the skin and taking benadryl should be sufficient. (This is where the Food Allergy Anaphylaxis Plan comes in handy).
She has attended public school, gone on field trips, enjoyed in-class parties, gone to overnight camps, and participated in school activities without limitations.
However, certain things require a bit more thinking and planning, such as trips, Science Labs, and class parties.
If you would like to meet with us, we’re happy to come to school for a short presentation and Q&A – I’m also available answer questions by email or telephone. 

We look forward to getting to know you and to a successful school year.

We are lucky, we feel our school ‘gets it’, and more than that, our child is old enough to self-manage her food allergies, which means, she knows not to eat anything without a label, and to always read labels when she’s out purchasing her own food. At this point, we don’t need anything like a peanut free table, or a nut free classroom. She self-carries all of her medications.

For those who feel that your child’s school doesn’t get it, please see the references below for more help. Consider hiring an advocate, coach, or consulting with a non-profit like FAAN (foodallergy.org) or FAI (Food Allergy Initiative) for more resources on how to talk to your school about your child’s needs.

Other references:

Sloane Miller, Allergic Girl  9 THINGS ABOUT FOOD ALLERGY YOU MAY NOT KNOW

Lynda Mitchell Exec. Dir Kids With Food Allergies Foundation 10 TIPS TO GETTING YOUR CHILD OFF TO A NEW SCHOOL SAFELY

A SAMPLE 504 PLAN by Kids With Food Allergies Foundation

FOOD ALLERGY ACTION PLAN by Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis Network (FAAN)

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3 Responses to Allergy Free High School

  1. Poker Chick says:

    I can’t imagine what a mix of emotions you must be feeling as she becomes more independent. Kudos to you though for letting her start to handle it. And thanks for the resources for people who don’t have it so easy :) Good luck to your daughter!

  2. Thank you! I hope you find the resources you need to keep your child safe.

  3. […] Nurses is excellent. It’s free and has lots of good pointers. I also have a previous post here where I show a letter that I send every year to all of our child’s teachers. And another […]

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