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10 Tips for Talking to Your Child’s School About Food Allergies

August 19, 2016 •  no comments.

 •  At School, Blog, Do One Thing, Uncategorized

Written By Daniella Knell for SunButter

Daniella2Sending your child with food allergies off to school can be overwhelming. Trusting others to keep your kid safe is probably your #1 priority! For me, educating myself and others was the only way I could create a safer learning environment for both my children and their caregivers.

As food allergy parents, we constantly wonder, “What if something happens?” In my opinion, a more productive question is, “Does the person taking care of my child know what to do if and when something happens?”

It is all about education.

That’s the key to making sure that your answer to the above question is, “Yes, my child is in good hands.” When people don’t understand food allergies, they don’t know how to protect people who have them. The first step is educating—educating yourself, educating your child, and educating others. This guide will help you educate those around you most effectively.

1. Attitude

To effectively educate others, you will need to partner with your school. Know that your attitude sets the tone. This will make or break how your school will or won’t work with you. If you go in with a steamroller approach with demands, you’re likely to meet resistance. Have you ever heard the saying, “you catch more flies with honey than vinegar?” Approach your school with a positive, understanding attitude and you are more likely to see positive, understanding results!

2. Resources

Find Educational Resources YOU Trust. You can direct others to these resources and use them to bolster your position. They will also help you remember that you aren’t alone! Here are links to some of my favorites.

  • FAACT – Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis Connection Team FAACT is currently my favorite because I find them the easiest to navigate and LOVE their primary focus on education. TheirSchool Curricula Program offers ready to share presentations for the classrooms, beginning with K thru 3.
  • FARE – Food Allergy Research & Education FARE’s ‘Be A Pal: Protect a Life’ program spotlights Alexander the Elephant and his circle of food allergy friends. I still use portions of this program when presenting to preschool and early elementary school children.
  • KFA – Kids with Food Allergies KFA hasan entirepage dedicated to keeping kids with food allergies safe at schools, including free guides and handouts!

3. FAAP

Find a Food Allergy Action Plan (FAAP) YOU Like. Your allergist fills out this form outlining actions to be taken by a caregiver in the instance your child has an allergic reaction while in their care. Here is one place you can start: Children’s Physician Network Food Allergy Action Plan

4. Management Plan

Figure out WHAT KIND of Management Plan Your Child Will Need. IHP? IEP? Or 504? If your child has life threatening food allergies, they may be considered as a qualified student with disabilities under the Americans with Disability Act (ACT) Amendments Act of 2008.Section 504 of the Rehabilitation ACT of 1973 requires that the school district to provide a “free and appropriate education” (FAPE). Then again, this will depend on whether they are attending a school receiving ANY federal funding, and laws can vary from state to state. DON’T be overwhelmed! Your allergist can help you out!

The following links will offer your more information regarding 504 Plans, IEPs and IHPs.
FAACT 504 Plans
FAACT Individualized Education Plans (IEPs)
FAACT Individualized Health Plans (IHPs)

5. Gather Resources

Find some books and videos you like. My favorites include: the ENTIRE No Biggie Bunchseries, The BugabeesThe Princess and the Peanut, and the Alexander the Elephant Who Couldn’t Eat Peanuts – Gets a Babysitter

6. Create a School Food Allergy Binder

Put together useful Resources and have a copy available to share with the nurse and teacher. I would also include some kind of handy labels you can use to mark ‘SAFE’ snacks or a snack box for your child. Any kind of label will work. Here’s an example of the ones I personally designed: S.A.F.E. Food Allergy Labels.

7. Flyers

Find samples of food allergy flyers on line which you like. Just type in ‘peanut free’, ‘allergy free’ pics in your favorite search engine and you will find ALL kinds of different flyers you can use. Have these different options available to share with school personnel.

8. Meet with People

Meet with the Principal. Meet with school nurse. Meet with your child’s teacher. This is your opportunity to meet with everyone and explain your concerns. Let the individuals know you’re wanting to partner with the school to create a SAFE and enjoyable learning environment for everyone. It will be at this time you will find out what previous experiences these individuals have had in managing food allergies. You may be pleasantly surprised. You may be disappointed. Most importantly, you will be prepared to decide what direction you need to go in moving forward with your school.

9. Have Your Child Meet with ALL of the People They Will Meet

This is the opportunity to show your child all the individuals around them whom are working to keep them SAFE. Don’t underestimate the NEED for your child to need to feel this comfort. They don’t WANT to feel singled out, but they also need to feel SAFE.

10. Get Involved!

Set up a time to go in and read stories, show a video, whatever it is you want to do to make learning about food allergies FUN! In the beginning it may be nerve racking.

Daniella Knell, owner of Smart Allergy~Friendly Education, is mother to two children with food allergies. You can find her displaying her public speaking skills in local schools and hospitals, blogging, and presenting allergy~friendly smoothie videos. For allergy~friendly ideas for your household, visit Daniella’s website, FacebookLinkedIn and Twitter.

 

A 17 Year Old Writes: “You Can Do It!” on Life With Food Allergies

August 10, 2016 •  6 comments.

 •  Blog, News, Uncategorized

kayleighpetersKayleigh Peters is a 17 year old who decided to share a few thoughts for parents of little ones with food allergies in a Facebook group.  Her post went viral in the food allergy community and was shared immediately.  It is honest, heartfelt and so true, and it shines a light on food allergies and what it teaches us.

Meet Kayleigh, one amazing high school girl:

“Hi, I’m a 17 year old who has lived with a severe (as in contact and airborne reactive) allergy to peanuts since I was born.

Later I added soy and tree nut, and I am now peanut, treenut, soy, lentils, beans, peas, and wheat allergic.

I know that some of parents on this page are just now becoming introduced into the severe allergy world, and I want to offer some reassurance from the child perspective. I went to a public elementary school. I was given a “peanut-free table” at lunch even though on Thursdays the cafeteria served PB&J sandwiches. I ended up in the Nurses office every Thursday.  I wasn’t able to play on the playground because of the contact, but still went to class with all the other children.

Throughout my elementary school years I became very close with the school nurse, but I never used my Epi at school even if I know I probably should have. The first time I used it I was 8 years old and I was at a birthday party. I ate peanut butter cup ice cream and within 5 minutes I couldn’t breathe. My parents weren’t there and the friends parents had to give me the Epi and call the ambulance.

This was probably the most terrifying moment for my parents when they got the call. But, I want to tell all of the parents out there that I turned out okay. I was raised in the time before the severity of allergies was understood, but I was still able to live my life.

Severe allergies are scary. I know this as well as anyone. I also have severe asthma. I’ve been in and out of the hospital all my life.

Yes, it’s harder for me to go out to eat or go on the same adventures that the other kids my age go one, but I still live my life.

Don’t let allergies hold you back or hold your child back. Everyone has obstacles in their lives.

Those of us with allergies have to learn til read labels, advocate for ourselves, inform others about who we are, we learn to scan crowds for candy bars being eaten by others, we learn to wipe down seats and tables, we learn to answer weird questions like “what happens if I eat it then lick you?”, we learn how nice the EMSA people can be.

Everything is a learning experience. But we can do it. Do not feel that you have to seclude yourself from the world because of you or your child’s allergies. Yes, this world is scarier when you have allergies. Yes, there are many many people out there who do not understand what we have to go through. But it is our job to not give up. We have to educate those around us. We have to keep living.

I just felt that sometimes that sort of thing needs to be said.

-From a girl who has lived with severe allergies and asthma all her life and has still gone to France for 2 weeks without her parents, dozens of road trips, public schools, airplanes, restaurants, and is going to Bangladesh in a month.

It’s going to be okay. It’s a scary world, but you are all strong. Your child will learn so much. They will be strong, independent, self-advocators.

You can do it.”