Choosing Your Allergic Child’s First School 2017-05-28T23:26:43-07:00

A parent choosing an allergic child’s first school can be stressful. You don’t want be a nuisance but you know it is vitally important. You need to make the school aware of your child’s needs and assess the competence for coping with allergic emergencies. We suggest you carry out some basic research on the web, talking to other parents at the school and initially some of the school administrators.

Possible questions checklist:

      • Does the school have an anaphylaxis plan and are they “allergy aware”?
        Where do children eat their lunch?
        Are children allowed to eat at recess or casually at their desks?
        Do adults monitor lunch and what is the adult/child ratio?
        Are desks wiped after lunch?
        How many celebrations (birthdays, reading rewards, etc.) involve food?
        What is the nature and frequency of field trips (unknown environments)?
        Is there an education program on food and allergies?
        Are other parents of non-allergic children educated (newsletters, etc.) about the dangers and prevention issues?

Always validate (Don’t accept vague reassuring statements like “We have had kids with allergies before” or “We send out a letter to families sometimes.” Here are some pointers:

Additional tips

    Find out if there is a parent/teacher council or group.
    Perhaps ask to spend time at the school to observe the day’s activities and rituals.
    Ask for copies of staff training material, letters, posters, newsletters, etc.
    Find out where the auto injectors are kept and who administers them.
    Check that the anaphylaxis plan conforms with state or provincial regulations.

Child empowerment

Certainly by secondary school age, there should be a shifting of responsibility away from the teacher to the allergic child. She should always wear her auto injector and wear her MedicAlert identification.

One disturbing statistic:

From a recent voluntary allergy awareness survey of elementary school staff:

Only 48% knew which end to inject with the auto injector, and
67% said they needed more training.
Source-adapted from: School Policies and Practices, Shawna McGhan, April 2009

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