At what age do you put the EpiPens on your child or in his backpack rather than leaving them in the classroom with the teacher?
Be sure to check with the policy of your school before packing it in a book bag. My school encourages students in junior and high school to both carry their EPI pen, and also to keep one in the school clinic. Children in younger grades do not carry them as the clinic is within the same building as their classrooms.
I started putting an epi pen in my daughter's backpack when she started kindergarten mostly to ensure when my sitter picked her up from school there was an epi pen on her. While I showed my daughter how to use it I didn't really expect her to use it and made it very clear she was not to touch it unless it was an emergency. Her kindergarten teacher carried an epi pen as well as having one with nurse and I had one down in the lunchroom. Their elementary school has 3 levels and the allergist said the epi pen should always be on the same floor as her. I was also lucky that her school is peanut free but I still volunteered at lunch/recess several time a week to keep an eye on her and make sure she was safe. I would probably start expecting her to be able to self administer around 5th grade but these new auvi-q pens could even be done by a younger child. Still I would not rely on my daughter at age 6 to carry her epi pen and would not want her to self administer unless absolutely necessary.
For my son, the epi-pen followed him until he reached middle school. Then, he carried it himself. We had a backup in the office; but, the teacher will my child carried the epi-pen on a laniard. When he was old enough...and we felt middle school was appropriate...he kept it on him. Now, for recess, the duty teacher would hold it for him.
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We recommend that you allow your child to carry an EpiPen when they enter junior high or middle school, when they will be making the transition from class to class. However, elementary school could also be an appropriate time to allow your child to carry an EpiPen, because he will not always be with his teacher (for example when on the playground, in the library, or on a fieldtrip). It is ultimately whatever you feel most comfortable with. Some children may not be responsible enough to carry an EpiPen with them at 5 years old and may abuse it or attempt to play with it.
When you do decide that your child is ready to carry an EpiPen on his own, it is important that you instruct your child about how to appropriately use it. It is important that you give children the tools to manage their allergy on their own. Show him how to administer the EpiPen and practice repeatedly in case of an emergency. This will allow your child to feel more at ease and will give him the confidence to know that he has the ability of dealing with his allergy on his own.
Even when you do decide that your child is ready to carry an EpiPen with him, still make sure that your child’s teachers and the school nurse have additional EpiPens with them. Also, you may want to consider making an emergency action plan or a 504 plan.
Put the epi pen on the child as soon as possible. I would suggest at 5 or 6 years old to ingrain the habit. Much safer on the child than with an adult teacher or in a school office or desk.
Use a pen holding waist belt. Also, teach the child to self administer as soon as they can manage it. If they are over about six, have then hold the pen and you place your hand over theirs if you give the pen. This gives them a sense of control and reduces the fear a little. Practice this with them. Also, they will feel safer if they know they have the med, can give themselves the med, and are capable of taking care of it themselves.
The child will be having the reaction, not the office or a teacher, so the med should be with the child! The teachers job is to verify the kid is still wearing their pen as they go to recess, art, library, wherever in the school.
Tween and Teen is far too late to start this habit for life, especially for young males. My kid is now 17. He's learned over time the best person to trust with his life is himself. It sounds harsh, but our rule was and still is no pen = no food. Not worth the risk.
I started doing both in junior high. My son carrier a Kozy Epi pack containing his epi pen, inhaler and benedryl clipped on his backpack or belt loop, but there is always a backup in the lunch room and nurses office. He's just finishing 8th grade and is finally very good about carrying it, but I'm reassured if he forgets there is a backup!
Of course, this depends largely on your child, but I would think Jr. High or high school age. This is the point where they start moving from class to class, and that means leaving the epipen with one teacher would be much more difficult.
My son is in high school and I still make a package with instructions and leave it in the school office. At this age he knows what to eat and what not to eat. The rule is "If you don't know, you don't eat it". When he is away from school and us, he carries one on him and always lets an adult know he has it on him. He does not drive yet so he is still pretty much somewhere where there is an adult. he also carries one in his backpack so incase he goes to someone's house after school. When they start moving around from class to class, it is hard to keep it with one teacher.
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