Monday, August 23, 2010

Back to School with a Peanut Allergy

Is everybody ready for another school year to start?  Today was finally the turning point for me.  Up until today, I was a little melancholy that the summer was coming to an end.  I feel we've been so busy that we've not had enough time to just relax and play.  But after yet another day of donning my black and white striped shirt to referee yet another disagreement between my 7 year old and 3 year old, I decided it was time for the kids to go back to school.

I met with Abigail's 2nd grade teacher this morning to discuss her peanut allergy.  For the first time since she started school, preschool included, there is another child with a peanut allergy in her class.  Her teacher had not yet met with his parents, so I wasn't able to discern how serious his allergy was or if the parents were super, super vigilant or really low key (I tend to come in somewhere in the middle...cautious, safe, but with the attitude that she still has to live her life to the fullest).  I think it will be good to have another child with a peanut allergy in the class unless either his allergy is not as serious or his parents don't take it as serious and then the students might receive mixed messages, i.e., why is it okay for him, but not Abigail? 

Like last year, this morning I took in a letter of introduction to send home to the parents of her classmates, a Peanut Allergy Action Plan, a list of peanut safe snack/treat suggestions, an Epi Pen practice injector (which wasn't required because her teacher carries one for her own bee sting allergy) and some ideas for a class discussion on food allergies.  This year for the first time I'm going to go into the classroom at the start of the school year and review the "Be a PAL" (Protect A Life) brochure with Abigail's classmates.  I've found a food allergy word search puzzle that they can take home, and if the video is any good, I'll also take in the "Arthur: Binky Goes Nuts" video for the kids to watch.  I checked it out from our public library today and will preview it tomorrow.  I'm also thinking about taking in some snacks to show them how to read the label, and maybe, if it wouldn't embarrass Abigail too much, an expired Epi Pen and an orange to let her show them how to administer it.  I'm wondering if 2nd grade is too early for that?? Lastly, I'll have a certificate ready for each child, also from the FAAN site which names them "Hero's" for looking after their friend's safety.

But, it doesn't end there.  We have a letter ready to give to both her morning and afternoon bus drivers along with a copy of the Peanut Allergy Action Plan, I have school medical authorization forms for the antihistamine and Epi Pens at the pediatrician's office to be signed, I'm waiting for a new prescription to be called in to replace her soon-to-expire school Epi Pens and I've purchased more antihistamine fast melt tablets for a still-have-to-be-packed medicine bag.  And, just one more day left to get it all done!

What I haven't done, and probably won't is complete a Section 504 Plan.  I know lots of moms that do, and if Abigail had multiple food allergies, or if her school was unaccommodating, then I probably would.  If you're unsure, the Food Allergy Initiative site is a great resource in determining whether you should and for giving lots of information to better understand the details of the law.

One more day of summer, and then it's back to school for my big 2nd grader.  I'm hoping it's a fun and peaceful day.  If you're interested in all of the forms I mentioned, be sure to check back in the next day or so.  I'm hoping to set up the links in a separate column to the right of the posts.  Good luck this year!

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