Nut Allergies in an open school plan

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By trying2understnd on Sat, 05-24-08, 16:15

I am the mother of a non-allergic child. In the school that my daughter attends there are several children w/nut allergies. Our school is an open plan school. This means that there are no walls in the school except in the gym and administrative offices. There is one mother in the school who is demanding that the school have no food in the classrooms. This means no fresh fruit snacks in the morning, no birthday treats and no treat at holiday parties. This coming school year I am in charge of supplying the treats for parties for the whole school. I have talked with some of the other "allergy moms" to ask what their opinions are. They have put "treat" bins in their child's classroom so that if a treat comes in they get their own approved treat. I was told that the lunches would not go "nut-free" since they can make arrangements for the allergic children. I am personally against getting rid of the food in the classrooms. I feel that doing this is taking away from my child's nutrition (am snack) and ostrisizing these allergic children, because now no one can have food. I understand why the mom is asking for this, but I think that if we educate the children, staff and parents that we can all work together to make it a safe and fun learning environment for everyone. This mother has her own agenda. I believe she wants the entire school nut-free and refuses to educate anyone or come to a compromise so that she can get her way. We are a small school (about 230 students K-6)and she won't tell anyone what to look for on labels and what her child can and cannot have specifically, but is combative if something slips through. Unfortunately, she is now referred to as the "crazy nut lady". Where she might have had allies she has the majority against her now. All of this leads up to the fact that our school is open. Even if the school were to go completely nut free there is still no way to keep cross contamination contained. It would be different if we had actual classrooms w/walls, but we don't. Am I unjusified in wanting to keep food in the classrooms, but educating everyone to keep it nut free? Should this one person get her way (when the other allergy parents also want to keep the food)because she complains the loudest? Where does it end? I'm soooo frustrated with trying to come up with a compromise, when I'm told she will dismiss it out of hand because she wants no food. Am I wrong in thinking that if her child is that sensitive to nuts that maybe an open plan school is not the best environment for her allergic child? Our school district has an interschool policy so she could go to any of the schools in the district that have actual classrooms w/walls and doors. In that setting she could make the class nut free without affecting the entire school.My feeling after doing some research on it is that the only person you can trust to keep you safe is you. And all you can do is ask and educate the people around you to help YOU keep yourself safe. If the child is too young to educate other then it's up to the parents to do it. The world is not always an accomodating place. Give your child the tools for when he is older and you are not around anymore. Don't teach him that everyone is going to change for him. Teach him that all you can do is educate people to change rather than just demanding they change. That's for anything in life not just nut allergies. That seems to be what these other allergy moms are teaching their kids. I feel sorry for this child. To me it just seems that he is going to be ill prepared for the real world. Change doesn't happen when you stomp your foot and demand it. Wide spread change happens through education, acceptance and getting people on your side who empathize with your situation. Am I wrong?

I just feel like we're (parents of non-allergic kids) bending over backward to let the school know that we're willing to take extra steps to keep everyone safe and she just wants her way. I would love some guidance from anyone who has experience with an allergy in an open school plan or where allergic and non-allergic parents worked in cooperation with each other successfully.

Sorry if this rambles!

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By michellerene on Sat, 05-24-08, 17:38

Hello friend! My daughter has a PA(peanut allergy) I give you a lot of credit researching and reaching out for info when you or your family members have no allergies. That childs mother needs to do the research you are doing.
Being a mother of a PA child I feel it is my responsibility to try to know all I can about PA's. With that knowledge, I teach and inform my daughter how to protect herself in any environment. I have also provided the school with all kinds of literature,laws, food allergy action plan, epi-pen dvd and trainer set..etc. I work with the principal, school nurse, and her teachers. If the mother refuses to do any of this and keeps her child in your school I would suggest that the school educate themselves, to protect themselves and the child. The mother sounds selfish and has totally disreguarded her daughters health and life. I am baffled about the mothers demands; but she may be scared and not aware of the all the resources out there.
I feel having a peanut free school sets everyone up for a false sense of security. But having a peanut free table is a great compromise. As for the A.M. snack, possibly have that peanut free but lunch children could have peanut products. The peanut free table will help with this. Also suggest that the children wash their hands after snack and lunch. This will help in the cross contamination dept. All in all, children with allergies are always at risk with cross contamination, anywhere and everywhere they go.
I know this is long but the school has a responsibility to provide a safe environment for allergic children. It's the LAW!!!
If the parent isn't willing to help the school(??????) than the school needs to do it on their own. The Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis Network has a program for schools that have children with allergies. You could try there for help with more info.
Good luck......and thank you, it's always nice to hear how non-allergic people feel so we can help eachother and make it a better world for everyone!

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By lakeswimr on Sat, 05-24-08, 17:59

I am glad you came here to ask about this. I agree with some of the things you said and strongly disagree with other things, although I can see why someone who doesn't have a child with food allergies would feel the way you do about these things. :)

I am a teacher and I have taught briefly in an open plan school. I would say that even though the school doesn't have walls I would treat the child's classroom as if it did.

I wonder if this other parent's child has multiple food allergies and not just peanuts/nuts? My son is allergic to many foods including nuts, peanuts and milk. milk is a big worry for us in school because dairy products can be so very messy. If this other child has many food allergies than his/her needs *are* different than the children who have peanut allergy.

Also, another thing to keep in mind is that asking other parents of food allergic children what they think is appropriate for another child isn't going to necessarily give you good information. At my son's school there is another family that allows their child with food allergies to eat baked goods made by others. Food allergic people have died from doing this and the Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis Network recommend against it. My son's school was used to letting food allergic children eat baked goods made by others and people did wonder why I didn't allow my son to do this. In our case the other food allergic parents who have come through are taking this big risk that isn't safe and my request that my son NOT eat food made by others (not really a request--I insist he not eat anything I don't send in or personally approve) is very reasonable but might have seemed to some used to the old way of doing things as excessive.

I find that people who only deal with peanut or nut allergies don't always understand the precautions we have to take with our son due to his multiple food allergies.

That said, I think making all classrooms totally food-free is something I personally would not request. My son's classroom is free of his allergens and before he uses common rooms the art, etc teachers clean where he will sit. His class has snack, bday parties and lunch in the cafeteria and DS sits at an allergy-free table with one other friend. This works for us and doesn't limit others. The children who have peanut or nut allergies have nut/peanut-free classrooms.

Personally I do not trust other people to check food labels. "safe snack" lists are also not recommended by the Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis Network because ingredients can change any time and because label-reading is difficult. Even someone as cautious as me has made mistakes so there is NO way I would trust others to read labels for things my son would eat. I'm thankful his classroom is free of his allergens (and food free almost always except the few class parties they have and for those I provide all the food) because I'm sure even with a 'safe food list' and with telling people who to label read there would be mistakes sometimes and that would really worry me. So, I can understand the other mom's worry. But I did expect there would be food to which my son was allergic in his classroom. I'm thankful there isnn't but I expected it and I asked that they wash hands, clean tables, floor, and kid's clothing if necessary and have DS sit apart from those eating his allergens. At the least I would have wanted the room peanut, nut and sesame-free. The tricky thing is that sesame isn't a top allergen so it doesn't have to be listed on food labels so there isn't an easy way to tell other people how to make a snack sesame-free unless they did just fruit.

maybe the other parent is also in a similar situation?

I do think it sounds like the other parent didn't work with the school diplomatically enough. I"m sorry to hear that.

The fact that your school is an open plan should not lead people to saying, "oh well, there is no way to prevent cross contammination" but rather lead people to do an extra good job washing their hands after they eat. This simple act helps keep food allergic children safe. It takes very little time and doesn't cost almost anything. Hand washing, table cleaning, etc are super-important.

While my son will have to take over responsibility for his allergies when he is older there is no way he could do this now. We rely on the good will of others for his safety and each day I drop him off I hope he will be fine and not have a reaction or worse. I'm sure that is something you don't have to think about if your child doesn't have a life-threatening condition like food allergies.

Wanting the entire school nut-free is quite reasonable IMO, esp for primary grades. There are people who have died and who have nearly died from merely touching invisible amounts of food residue and then touching their eyes, nose or mouth and this is especially true for peanuts, nuts and seed allergies. My son had anaphylaxis from playing with Play Doh at the neighbor's house. No food was present. The Play Doh had food residue on it, though. My son touched the Play Doh and then touched his eyes, nose or mouth, thereby ingesting the Play Doh. I see nothing wrong with someone *wanting* a peanut-free school for their child, especially if they every saw their child have a severe reaction to peanuts. Why are you opposed to this? And just FTR, my son's school allows all foods except in the classrooms of the few other nut/peanut-allergic students. The lunch room allows everything (but has allergy-free tables). I would LOVE it if my son's school went peanut-free, though. I didn't push for it since I knew they were deeply opposed to it.

It is too bad people call her the "crazy nut lady." I hope you will help stop people from doing that! If it were their child who could die from an invisible amount of peanut I'd bet they would change their tune very quickly.

That said, it does sound like she isn't easy. I"m sorry for that.

Maybe if you truly offer her good will she will be easier to work with.

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By trying2understnd on Sun, 05-25-08, 03:44

Thank you so much for your input. I do sympathize with this family and other with this severe allergy. I am opposed to going nut free for a couple of reasons. My daughter is a VERY picky eater. For years all we have done in lunches is PB&J. I've tried to get her to eat other things...lunchmeat, tuna, soup, mac & cheese, hot dog in a thermos. It all comes back and then she is starving by the time she comes home. I can send her with something other than pb&j like crackers or I don't know, but if it's nut free school then it hampers my choices that much more. While I ABSOLUTELY want to keep all of the children safe now keeping this child safe is affecting my child's nutrition. She doesn't eat during the day, then she's sluggish, her mind wanders and she doesn't pay attention, her grades suffer, etc. And I know that mine isn't the only child like this. My daughter's doctor says not to fight with her about food. We've had this ongoing for years. It's not just lunch it's dinner too. SHe hates meat! Can't get her to eat it. I push the peanut butter for the protein. She doesn't like milk, but she'll drink it w/chocolate in it. I'm not just saying I don't want the school nut free cuz it's a whim. I really feel that if it does go nut free then my child will suffer.

I definately agree that you can't trust anyone but yourself to read labels and I understand from my research that lists don't necessarily help. I thought a list would be a good jumping off point. A list of companies who are nut allergy conscience, but advise to still read labels. It's better to educate them and have them trying to read labels than not doing it at all, right?

I hope our principal does what's best for the whole school and not just for the one who yells the loudest. Unfortunately, he doesn't have the best track record. When we asked him if he would make a decision before the end of this year (so that we can prepare for the coming year) his decision was that he would make a decision and when he did he'd let us know. I feel make one now and give everyone, regardless of the decision wheather for or against, the time to come to terms with it over the summer. That way they are prepared and there won't be such an uproar at the beginning of the new school year. Conversely, if he decides that the school will not be nut free or we will have food in the classrooms and she doesn't want to keep her child in the school, she has the summer to find the right school for him.

A few of us are going to get a small committee together over the summer. We want to be prepared for his decision. We are going to have non allergic and allergic parents on it and we want to research this issue. Legal, health, schools that have gone nut free in the classrooms only. We want to show everyone that we can do this and still help out the allergic kids without singling them out to other who, let face it, can be cruel. For the most part the kids in the school are really good, but there are always those few, but we should lead by example.

This woman is very friendly, but when it comes to this subject she goes psycotic on everyone. I understand why, but you catch more flies with honey. I don't know exactly what his allergies are,but isn't that he job to educate us and ask us to help her instead of alienating us. My neighbor and I were talking about the issue the other day and another neighbor(of an older child) came by and we asked her if she was aware of the issue. Her response was, "Are you talking about the crazy nut lady". I told my neighbor, "Look how far this has gone and how everyone is refering to her as." It's because she is so compative and unmoving on the issue.

Your the parent of an allergic child and while you don't agree with everything I am saying you have an open mind about what I'm saying. I'm frustrated because it seems she wants us to have an open mind to her childs needs, but doesn't return the favor.

Thank you for listening to my ramblings and I really do appreciate everyone's input whether they agree with me or not. I really do have a lot of respect for all of you parents with allergic kids. I know I'm truly blessed and I pray that some day there would be some miracle cure. I'm going to keep educating myself(I'm a dog with bone when I get something in my mind)and I will help educate the people I know. (even though this mother should be!)

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By poodles02 on Sun, 05-25-08, 11:51

I'm sorry to be so blunt, but this is an important point - The "crazy nut lady's" desire to prevent her child from possibly DYING from anaphalaxis trumps your desire to give your picky eater PBJ. We are talking about a life and death matter here. I'm tired of hearing the "picky eater" excuse that is used to make it okay to expose other kids to food that could kill them in a matter of minutes. I hope the school goes nut free, and I hope the "crazy nut lady" isn't a social outcast forever. I admire her determination and bravery in light of how she is obviously being treated.

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By mom of L&C on Sun, 05-25-08, 16:02

I agree with poodles02. My son had a contact reaction at school just from touching toys after another child ate pb&j. He was 5. He knows he cannot eat these things, BUT he cannot tell where the food residue is. We have all seen younger kids wash their hands, they just do not do a good job.
All children have a right to go to school and feel safe. A child with life threatening food allergies is considered to have a disability. Telling this child to go to another school because this school has an open floor plan and cannot accomodate is like telling someone they cannot come here because they will not put in a wheel chair ramp. It is discrimination.
This is life and death we are talking about. If you ever saw a child have an anaphylactic reaction and gasp for breath because their wind pipes had swollen shut it would scare you to death. Would you want other young children to witness this?
I think nuts should be banned in elementary school because they are so young and do not understand. I do not think this would lull my child into a false sense of security, just make him feel safe. Children will have to deal with life threatening food allergies when they are older, but lets face it, should a child so young have to worry about a food killing him.
It is hard to explain to people that a food can kill a child. I did not understand it myself because I have no food allergies. You really have to live this life to understand. I just want you to see our point of view. I am not trying to make anybody mad here.

__________________

#1 son - peanuts, tree nuts, walnuts, eggs, every weed, grass, tree, mold, dust, cats, dogs, horses, and has asthma
#2 son - peanuts, shellfish, eggs, every grass, weed, tree, mold, dust, dogs, cats, horses, cows, and has severe asthma

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By lakeswimr on Sun, 05-25-08, 18:24

I actually do understand picky eaters. My son is a super picky eater and it runs in my family. When my brother was little he would only eat hot dogs, popcorn and orange soda for *two years*. Then he added in a new food. A year later he added in 2 new foods etc. He eats pretty normally now but if he was forced he would have ended up in the hospital. My own son would also probably end up in the hospital if I tried to force him to eat foods he doesn't like. I've had him in feeding therapy at the local Children's Hospital for almost a year now and thankfully it is helping.

I do think that many in the food allergy community feel offended by those who have picky eaters who try to say, "my child will starve without peanut butter" because it does feel like those who say this don't get that an invisible amount of peanut residue on a desk, toy, scissor, etc could kill their child. This is especially true for those who have seen their children nearly die. However, I do get that there are children who really won't eat anything but peanut butter. I would hope that somehow their children might be able to eat a peanut butter alternative such as sunbutter or soy butter or something like that but if not I do agree that it isn't reasonable for a child to go without protein for the whole day. I would then have the peanut butter kids (those few who won't eat anythign else) sit at a special area of the cafeteria so it could be kept away from those with serious allergies and then have those children wash very, very well after lunch and have the area cleaned well, too. There are many ways to do this but the school can go *mostly * nut-free or nut-free with the exception of children like yours. it doesn't have to be all or nothing, right?

I think it is scary in a way that a group of parents who don't have children with food allergies are trying to decide what happens. I do feel you have good will and good intentions. However, you don't know much about food allergies and I dont' think it is your place to decide what accommodations a child other than your own gets in school. Can you see that? I mean, do you think you should decide how a diabetic child should be kept safe in school? No, right? I see this could affect your child and I think you should limit your input to that alone!!!!!!! Tell the school how this will affect *your* child and what you want for *your* child but please don't try to decide how this other child should be treated. That's my unasked for opinion.

You said, "I definately agree that you can't trust anyone but yourself to read labels and I understand from my research that lists don't necessarily help. I thought a list would be a good jumping off point. A list of companies who are nut allergy conscience, but advise to still read labels. It's better to educate them and have them trying to read labels than not doing it at all, right?"

It depends on if your school is going to go nut-free or nut-free classrooms or what. If not then no need for this, right?

You said, "I hope our principal does what's best for the whole school and not just for the one who yells the loudest."

I hope your school will keep all children *safe* and *alive*!

I also don't think kids are necessarily cruel to those with food allergies. My son's school is very nice.

I can understand getting very upset on the topic of food allergies. I have had that happen to me. I wasn't expecting to get so upset but some in his preschool weren't taking the proper precautions and I lost it and got very, very upset. I didn't want to or plan to and wouldn't have chosen to be upset like that but I did. Knowing that can happen with me I am very careful now when I talk to people about this topic. It is so emotional and primal though. It feels when people do things that aren't safe that they are putting your child's life at risk (which they are), your child could *die* because of it so you must protect your child at all costs. This can cause overreactions. It can also be misinterpreted as an over reaction by thosee who don't have food allergies when really it is necessary to protect the life of the allergic child.

The fact that you hear people refer to this woman as "the crazy nut lady" and don't speak up on her behalf means you are condoning it and furthering it. I feel we all have an obligation to speak up on the behalf of others at times like this.

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By Krusty Krab on Sun, 05-25-08, 20:19

[b] I feel that doing this is taking away from my child's nutrition (am snack) and ostrisizing these allergic children, because now no one can have food.[/b]

Ummm, well,...what you've explained, everyone experiencing the same, well that's called [i]inclusion[/i], leveling the playing field, [i]non-ostriszing[/i] in the fullest sense.

[b]This mother has her own agenda.[/b]

Yes indeed. It's called [i]'Let's think of a way that my child can learn in a safe environment, where she/he is included in the fullest sense, and can return home to her/his family every day (also known as not dying).'[/i]

[b]Am I wrong in thinking that if her child is that sensitive to nuts that maybe an open plan school is not the best environment for her allergic child?[/b]

Do you also tell diabetics that this school isn't for them? The blind? Or do you selectively discriminate against the food allergic?

[b]Don't teach him that everyone is going to change for him.[/b]

You're right. Teach him that [i]'most people don't care about you Johnny. They'd rather have their treats then see that you live through the day. They'll call us crazy, they'll not be able to fathom that food, so innocuous, so needed, couldn't possibly kill someone--no that life is just too hard for them to believe let alone live. They'll say 'why don't you go to x school', they'll say how dare we think that an entire school can survive without birthday treats? They'd rather repetively exclude you Johnny, then pass out stickers and have 30 extra minutes for playtime at a birthday celebration. They'll forget about the opportunity to teach compassion to children. They'll say we have 'an agenda', cause after all, we all know it's just so damn easy and desirable to live a life where food can kill you. Yes, of course, we do it for kicks, you know, just to piss parents off. We really enjoy the other parents and how they consistenly time and time again place food above a child's right to feel safe and included while at school. People don't care about you. But I do, and I will try to make it safe and inclusive for you.[/i]

It's about education AND accomodation. You seem to want the education, but refuse to accomodate. All in the name of food. It's no wonder parents of FA kids get ticked off when parents like you place food above the lives of children over and over.

It's posts like this and people like you that makes me even more certain that [i]you[/i] should thank God that he gave the food allergic children to folks like [i]us[/i], cause I wonder how your child would experience the food allergic life. You know...with all the compassion you have oozing out of you.

__________________

I'm not a doctor, see your own for advice.

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By Krusty Krab on Sun, 05-25-08, 20:31

[b]She doesn't like milk, but she'll drink it w/chocolate in it. I'm not just saying I don't want the school nut free cuz it's a whim. I really feel that if it does go nut free then my child will suffer. [/b]

Oh I see now. [i]YOUR[/i] childs [i]NON[/i]-life threatening needs, you child's health status that is NOT classified as a disability and protected under federal anti-discrimination laws, are above those that are. Is that what I'm hearing??

__________________

I'm not a doctor, see your own for advice.

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By lakeswimr on Sun, 05-25-08, 21:42

Krusty,

I don't read what you did. I really do feel this person has good intentions. Also, as I said above, I certainly do not dismiss the seriousness of nutrition for children who have very limited diets and really do rely on foods such as peanut butter for protein. I have a son with MFAs, a child who has had ana to playing with toys that had invisible food protein on them (he didn't eat *anything* when this happened!) so I get the dangers of FAs. I am *the* most cautious food allergic parent I know in real life (and maybe close to it on line, too). I have been the "crazy nut mom" in the minds of some, I'm sure! So, I am very much in support of the rights of food allergic children. I read the stories of some and I thank god my child isn't in schools where his right to be educated safely isn't respected. I always wish all food allergic children could have situations like my son's school or better. I also have a child who has very serious limitations on what he eats due to sensory issues and extreme pickiness. I had this myself when I was little and understand it well. There really are children who won't eat anything but pb for lunch and if they are forced to eat other foods they won't eat. My son can NOT be forced to eat additional foods. In the many months of feeding therapy he has had he added in about 10 foods and they say his progress is nothing short of amazing. (shrug) And his diet still is *very* limited. I worry all the time about him getting proper nutrition and about his growth rate. These are serious concerns.

What if a food on which my son relies was a life threatening allergy for another child? I can't say how I would feel or what I would do. I would want to be sure the other child was safe, absolutely. I would also want to make sure my child gets proper nutrition. If both can happen *at school* that would be ideal.

I do know there are those who have very bad intentions to those with FAs and I am assuming you have had to deal with too many people like this. My heart goes out to you about that! No one should have to deal with the stress that comes with that. Even working with my son's present school where they ended up doing nearly everything I wanted to keep my son safe was extraordinarily stressful. I had a very bad situation last year with my son's preschool and I can't imagine having that or worse a situation for elementary school as I know many do. I don't think this woman who posted is like that, though. And I think we can help her to see a food allergic parent's perspective.

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By I Care on Sun, 05-25-08, 23:13

I agree with Poodles02.

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By Krusty Krab on Mon, 05-26-08, 01:17

[b]This means no fresh fruit snacks in the morning, no birthday treats and no treat at holiday parties. This coming school year I am in charge of supplying the treats for parties for the whole school.[/b]

[b]I feel that doing this is taking away from my child's nutrition (am snack) and ostrisizing these allergic children, because now no one can have food.[/b]

[b]This mother has her own agenda. I believe she wants the entire school nut-free and refuses to educate anyone or come to a compromise so that she can get her way.[/b]

[b]Should this one person get her way ...because she complains the loudest?[/b]

[b]The world is not always an accomodating place.[/b]

[b] I feel sorry for this child.[/b]

[b]Change doesn't happen when you stomp your foot and demand it.[/b]

Let me guess, trying2understand hasn't even spoken to the 'allergy mom' she's posting about. Would rather complain about her to everyone else. I can just hear it now.

Oh, and Rosa Parks? Should've just sat down right?

Call me crazy, but I just have a knack for smelling this stuff a mile away. [i]It's a smelly smell that smells....smelly.[/i]

__________________

I'm not a doctor, see your own for advice.

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By trying2understnd on Mon, 05-26-08, 03:21

First of all thank you lakeswimr for sticking up for me. I do want you to know that I pointed out to my neighbor how bad this is getting since everyone is referring to her as such.

Krustykrab - I'm sorry you feel the need to attack me and take phrases from my posting and take them out of context to twist for your, I feel vicious, attacks against me. I came here for help and just as you need to vent so do I. For your information I have talked to this woman and she is very nice which is why I am surprised that she doesn't even want to talk about a compromise. I understand that this is her child's life. I would also like you to know that I have severe asthma and while you may have watched someone struggle to take in a breathe, I have experienced it as a child and an adult. I've been taken to the emergency room and passed out with blue lips. Please don't "yell" at me like I'm ignorant. If I was ignorant I wouldn't be on this site at all. I'm not asking to eat a pbj at the same table and I'm not saying to needlessly expose these kids to their allergies. I'm not an animal! I just feel that everything is so restricted in these kids, yours and mine, lives that if we can have food in the classrooms and have it be nut free then everyone gets to enjoy a class party or someone's birthday. And my daughter will get the nutrition she needs. I want to make clear that I'm not trying to dictate what will happen. I'm just trying to figure out both sides.

There are a lot of things that I would like to say to you, but I'm not going to that level. Just know that I think I'm a decent person and if I didn't give a crap about the kids with allergies do you think I would have wasted all the time I've spent on the internet trying to educate myself about this topic. I'm not tell anyone to tell their kids that no one cares about them. If my child had an allergy like this I would equip them to be responsible. You don't think that diabetic kids don't know how to take some part in their own welfare even at a young age? When I was kid I would have asthma attacks in the middle of the night. I knew I had to take my inhaler right away and if it didn't work I had to wake up my mother to give me a shot of epinephrine and if that didn't work then it was off to the emergency room. I know the panic of not being able to get a breath in and trying to take one and hearing a very faint rattle. If my child had asthma she would know from a very early age what to do. As I'm sure your child does. If I go to someone's house and they are smoking all I can do is ask them to stop and tell them what it does to me. I can't make the ragweed, and tree pollen and dustmites and grass and pet dander disappear from this world and neither can you get peanuts or tree nuts to disappear. All I can do is try to manage my illness the best that I can. While I understand why you have to be, let's say, passionate about this topic I think in a way you are small minded when it comes to other peoples problems. I hope that your post is just coming off like that and your not really like this in the real world. Maybe I should just stay oblivious in my little bubble and not do anymore research and just hope for the best. Then would you feel more justified in being able to tell everyone about all the ignorant and discriminate people to read on the internet? I'm asking for advice and guidance and you want to call me names and tell me what a bad person I am. Better to do that than to try to see both sides, like I'm trying to do, and give me advice or resources, right?

Thank you to everyone with an open mind that, while we may not agree, you are trying to help me understand your world.

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By gw_mom3 on Mon, 05-26-08, 06:27

One thing to remember-a child at school cannot escape a potentially dangerous allergy situation like an adult could walk away from it. That seems to be one thing people forget in their "they need to learn to deal with it" arguments. I homeschool my kids and this is a prime reason (not the only reason but probably one of the biggest, if not the biggest, reason). I can't imagine having to entrust her to strangers (who don't really "care") when I can't even trust family with her.

__________________

==============
~Gale~

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By lakeswimr on Mon, 05-26-08, 12:42

Hi Trying to Understand,

I do get that you are hear to learn and consider another way of thinking about things and I respect you for that.

I'm very glad you stuck up for the woman in question to our neighbor.

I want to point some things out about the ideas you posted above. Your comparison between having asthma and having diabetes and someone who has food allergies isn't really valid. It is true that you can not remove all of your allergen triggers but you also wouldn't put a *child* with asthma into a room full of people smoking, right? You wouldn't put food in front of a diabetic young child and expect him/her to know by looking which food was OK and which wasn't. While we don't get rid of all bees for children with bee allergies we also don't put bee nests into their schools, you know?

The thing about food allergies is that children can *die* from touching food residue and then touching their eyes, nose or mouth. I don't think you fully get this yet. While it is *possible* to make birthday celebrations free of just peanuts/nuts it is also possible that there can be mistakes made. The majority of food allergy deaths in schools occur from parties and field trips. This is why food allergic parents are very, very wary of anything involving food. And if they have a child who has had a serious reaction from touching invisible food residue on surfaces they are naturally going to want their child's classroom allergen-free (and in many cases we would want the whole school to be allergen-free.) This isn't taking my son's responsibility to protect himself away from him. how can he, as a 6 year old, (just for example) know not to touch a scissors that another child may have touched with peanut butter hands? How can he know that another parent or the teacher messed up and is giving him a food that has his allergens in it? (Well, he can actually read but some things don't have labels on them.) My son can't possibly at his age take care of his food allergies.

That doesn't mean my son doesn't take responsibility for his allergies. He does. I'm very impressed by my son. When offered food he says, "No thanks, I have food allergies" or "I can't have that because it has cheese in it and I'm allergic", or "I have to read the label first and I might have to have my mom call the company to be sure the food isn't made on the same equipment with my allergens" and things like this. He knows not to eat anything from other people. He knows not to touch his face but at this age and with the severity of his environmental allergies that make his eyes and nose extremely itchy there is no way he can 100% of the time do this. He knows to wash hands before eating, that if a food falls on the floor, even if it is his only cookie, he can't eat it due to allergies. He knows to tell adults if he is having a reaction. He knows he could have a fatal reaction (I wish he didn't know that.) He label reads already and reminds me to label read and double checks if we have label read. He knows his great grandmother can't be trusted to remember his allergies so not to take food from her. He knows not to take even foods he can eat safely at home from classmates because the outside of the bag could have touched their friend's yogurt or peanut butter and if the bag is opened the whole bag could have food residue on it from his allergens if another child reached into the bag with residue on his/her hands, etc, etc. He knows much, much more than this, too. I think that is a lot at age 6 but it isn't nearly enough for him to deal with his allergies by himself and it isn't enough to protect him at school without any accommodations. I don't want allergens in his classroom. It would be very, very dangerous. Thankfully his school keeps his allergens out of his classroom by having snack, lunch and bday celebrations in the cafeteria. perhaps that would be an easy solution for this woman's child's class. They could have a food-free classroom and just eat in the cafeteria. But if that isn't the case than either the classroom should be free of this child's allergens or if it includes this child's allergens (which it will due to mistakes on the part of other parents at least some of the time) then excellent hand washing, desk, floor and possibly clothing cleaning will be needed. The child *must* be kept from his/her allergens. That part isn't something that a food allergic child or parent can compromise on. I am not sure you 100% get that part. Does that make sense to you?

Again, I don't think this woman should be talking with other parents about compromise. This is something she needs to just discuss with the school administration.

I really don't think you fully understand that this is about this woman's child's life. Epi pens do not provide a guarantee a person will survive a food allergy reaction.

You said, "I just feel that everything is so restricted in these kids, yours and mine, lives that if we can have food in the classrooms and have it be nut free then everyone gets to enjoy a class party or someone's birthday. And my daughter will get the nutrition she needs. I want to make clear that I'm not trying to dictate what will happen. I'm just trying to figure out both sides."

From a food allergy mother's point of view my child's life is important. Classroom parties and bday celebrations aren't. And from someone who is into whole, natural foods I really dislike that my son gets treats for each child's birthday in school. I'd be thrilled to do food free birthday celebrations. What would be wrong with celebrating by having extra recess or making a special craft or playing an extra special game? Why does it have to involve food? Everyone can still have a great time without food. My son's preschool had one parent who came in and the children made crowns they decorated and other things like that with no food for one girl's bday and it was the most fun of all the bday celebrations according to all the children.

a celebration isn't much of a celebration in my opinion if it endangers another child's life. Yes, it can be possible to have celebrations that occur in the classroom and involve food and that are safe for all but any time you have anyone but the food allergic child's parents buying food, reading labels, etc means room for error (big room) and chance the child will have a serious, even fatal reaction. Having some food another person buys means really that the food allergic parent will need to come read the labels. many schools allow homemade cupcakes and there is *no* way to know if those are allergy-free or not (and the Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis Network, etc says to avoid all home made and bakery foods is you have a food allergy.) I"m not sure what types of food you want to use for these celebrations but that could be a big part of the problem???

I also don't think food in the classroom has anything to do with your daughter's nutrition. Your daughter could have pb at lunch. She doesn't require that her snacks are also protein-rich, right? She does eat other things for snack, right? I'm not sure why you mentioned that in a paragraph about birthdays in classrooms.

You said, "If my child had an allergy like this I would equip them to be responsible."

What would you do to equip a food allergic child to deal with invisible food residue that could kill them? What would you do that this other mother isn't doing? That I'm not doing?

I'm very interested in knowing just what about my posts you don't agree with (since you have mentioned that a couple times.)

Anyway, best wishes.

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By michellerene on Mon, 05-26-08, 13:24

My dd has a severe PA. I have seen her reactions, spent countless amounts of hours in the ER, countless amounts of hours educating her and myself. Nobody wants to see their children suffer and deal with a life threatening situation everyday of their exsistance. But, through all of this I have also realized that we the parents have a resposibility to educate the people around us. Yes, some truely could give a crap but most just don't understand. It's easy to "not understand" if your child is not at risk. Just like its easy to assume and accuse someone of not caring and totally disreguarding someone who doesn't have allergies.

What good are we as parents of allergic children, if we do not help the people try to understand what we go through, what we have to encounter, and most importantly what we know. It's easy to want compassion for our children, but how about showing compassion to those who are reaching out to learn more about what happens to our children and how to make them safe.

I refuse to push anyone away who is willing to learn. I feel it is very unfair and unfortunate that someone gets their statements torn apart and scolded for not understanding. I'm sure that the people who created this site wanted to promote awareness and a place where people could speak of their expeiences and knowledge of allergies of all kinds. This site is a resource for all people allergic or not!

If we educate the people that want to be educated we are making this a better place for all people who suffer from allergies. Hopefully, trying2understand will return to the site for more insight and suggestions. But if they don't I totally understand because who wants to get their hand slapped when they are reaching out!

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By lakeswimr on Mon, 05-26-08, 14:02

Originally Posted By: michellereneMy dd has a severe PA. I have seen her reactions, spent countless amounts of hours in the ER, countless amounts of hours educating her and myself. Nobody wants to see their children suffer and deal with a life threatening situation everyday of their exsistance. But, through all of this I have also realized that we the parents have a resposibility to educate the people around us. Yes, some truely could give a crap but most just don't understand. It's easy to "not understand" if your child is not at risk. Just like its easy to assume and accuse someone of not caring and totally disreguarding someone who doesn't have allergies.

What good are we as parents of allergic children, if we do not help the people try to understand what we go through, what we have to encounter, and most importantly what we know. It's easy to want compassion for our children, but how about showing compassion to those who are reaching out to learn more about what happens to our children and how to make them safe.

I refuse to push anyone away who is willing to learn. I feel it is very unfair and unfortunate that someone gets their statements torn apart and scolded for not understanding. I'm sure that the people who created this site wanted to promote awareness and a place where people could speak of their expeiences and knowledge of allergies of all kinds. This site is a resource for all people allergic or not!

If we educate the people that want to be educated we are making this a better place for all people who suffer from allergies. Hopefully, trying2understand will return to the site for more insight and suggestions. But if they don't I totally understand because who wants to get their hand slapped when they are reaching out!

I agree that this is a good opportunity for us to reach out to someone who might become a food allergy ally. I worry if people flame this woman that the food allergic family might suffer from the loss of having at least one person "get it". And this woman who is posting here is in charge of bday snacks for the whole school so if she "gets it" it will make a difference. I can understand why some feel upset when they encounter people who don't get it--it comes from the worry of fearing for their children's lives and experiencing other people not getting it. Other people often put food allergic children's lives in danger without realizing fully what they are doing (family who insists on putting out nuts even though an allergic child is going to be at the event, other parents who roll their eyes when you ask them to keep bowls of goldfish out of reach of toddlers, etc, etc.) It is easy to get offended when people don't get it. And the internet is a place where people sometimes talk in ways we wouldn't if speaking in person and where it is easy to forget the impact our words can have on a person.

I hope the OP will have a better understanding of the needs of food allergic children after this and that people at her school will be kind and compassionate to the food allergic family and that the food allergic children will be *safe* at school.

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By Mrsdocrse on Mon, 05-26-08, 14:11

I respect that you took the time to visti these boards. I agree with some of what you said but disagree with other things. My son goes to a Peanut free school ( thank fully) I am very fortuate that we have a school choice plan in my town. There are 2 schools that are peanut free out of 6. If you "choose" to send your child there then you " choose to follow the rules. We do have food inthe class room. I makes me nervous but I send in a safe snack for my son to have when there are treats being served. Parents are NOT supposed to bing in " home made" baked goods either. I am sorry that this PA allergic parent seems like a crazy person" I it so difficult to keep your emotions out of a conversation when your child well being is being compromised. I have leaned that I have to be very careful when I approach this subject so that I make my point but don't appear to be crazy or over the top. I think my responsibility to educate other around me. But it should be communicated by the school.

On the topic of picky eaters... my son is one too... Have you tried having your child have breakfast foods for lunch? what does eat for breakfast? Have her eat the PB &J for breakfast that way she will get some protient to start the day. I am sure she washed up and brushes her teeth before school any way. Send a cold peice of fried chicken or left over chicken in for luch. It is fast and easy to eat. crackers and cheese are great lunches too. I would sugggest that.

anyway... I am sure that you will have a struggle on your hands either way.. but please try not to think of her as a crazy person but a person who is passionate about the health of her child.

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By Krusty Krab on Mon, 05-26-08, 15:47

tryingtounderstand has an agenda as well. And her agenda is completely oppositional to the 'crazy nut allergy mom'.

Why is she here exactly? To try to convince you that food in the classroom should be welcomed? That non FA children might get hungry, so the FA children should just deal with exlusion and danger? She wants advice on [i]cooperation[/i]. She wants the mother of the food allergic child to water down her plan in order to accomodate [i]her[/i] desires. Wha?

One thing I've learned is that you never, never deal with other parents. You are your child's advocate and any give and take happens between the [i]administration[/i] and you, NOT other parents. Other parents should NEVER be part of the equation. It's not about whether or not other parent's [i]like[/i] you.

It sounds like the 'crazy nut allergy mom' is spot on.

__________________

I'm not a doctor, see your own for advice.

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By poodles02 on Mon, 05-26-08, 16:17

Krusty is right - read between the lines on the OP, and I think you'll discover that she's not really looking to be "educated", she's simply seeking validation of her own agenda to keep PB in the school. She's obviously rejected the information that she's been given because it conflicts with that agenda. I personally think she came here looking for ammunition to use against the "crazy nut lady" when their "committee" goes to battle. That's why she's doing the "research". Just because something is couched in "nice terms" doesn't mean that the motivation and meaning is something positive. Think about it, folks.

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By lakeswimr on Mon, 05-26-08, 16:32

To me I still see this as an opportunity to help someone influential better understand food allergies. I think some here probably know of a woman who used to be super opposed to peanut-free things and she even petitioned her school district opposed to accommodations for people with food allergies. Then she became better educated and I think maybe even later ended up with a child with food allergies and now is a great food allergy advocate. People *can* change. We have a good chance to help the OP think in a new way. Personally I am closed to information, even accurate info, when I'm flamed, etc. I don't think posts that attack the OP or accuse her are conductive to helping get her to see things from a food allergy perspective.

Now, having said all that, my views on food allergies are much, much more similar to the other parents of food allergic children who have posted in this thread, no matter how they have expressed their views than like the OP. I think the same would be true for most parents of food-allergic children.

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By cristym on Mon, 05-26-08, 21:09

Until your child has a life threatening food allergy, I do not think it is possible to truly "get it". I have been on both sides and it highlights to me how easily it would be for another Childs parent to accidentally expose my children.

I think back to the time before we had food allergic kids, when I exposed a boy with a peanut allergy to peanut butter. I knew he had a food allergy, somewhere in the back of my mind, but it was not something I lived with on a daily basis.

My son had an egg allergy that he has out grown, he used to get hives if we went to a restaurant during breakfast. I will never forget calling bakeries all over the area trying to find someone who could bake an egg free cake for his birthday. I ended up ordering an Angel food cake since the bakery told me it was egg free. Then when I getting ready to serve it, my MIL asked me why I was giving my son something with so many eggs in it. When I called the bakery the next day to ask why they had told me the cake was egg free they said it does not have eggs, it has egg whites. (ummmmm, an egg white is part of an egg, the most highly allergic part of the egg!)

When my daughter had an Anaphylaxis reaction to peanut butter, I did not recognize what was happening, I saw her licking the roof of her mouth and thought, Look she does not like the texture of the PB on the roof of her mouth, my husband and I laughed! I am blessed that the swelling did not get any worse. (I am crying as I type this, how in the world would I be able to live with myself had she died and I was too unaware to realize what was happening to her) She had spots on her face, had just eaten PB, and her tongue was swelling and I did not recognize the symptoms, how can I expect a teacher or school aide to recognize the symptoms quickly enough and get my children the emergency treatment they need? If there are no peanuts or tree nuts allowed there is less of a chance that they will have an accidental exposure.

These are the fears that I have as the parent of kids with life threatening allergic reactions, this is why I do not want Peanuts or Tree Nuts around my kids.

My 8 yo reads food labels even when an adult has told him it is safe he will not eat it unless he can look at the label himself, he will turn down any baked goods offered to him that I have not made, will tell a waiter or waitress at a restaurant that he needs to speak to the manager or chef to explain his food allergies, makes sure when he is going somewhere with an adult that they have his epi. He knows that even with all of these precautions there is still a chance that he will have an accidental exposure. Is it wrong to request that the school does not allow others to eat peanuts or tree nuts in his class room? I do not think it is.

__________________

Cristy

DS 9 PA, TNA, Oral Allergy Syndrome
DD 3 PA, TNA
DD 3 no known food allergies reflux and eczema

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By mom of L&C on Tue, 05-27-08, 02:02

I agree with poodles, krusty, and christy!

__________________

#1 son - peanuts, tree nuts, walnuts, eggs, every weed, grass, tree, mold, dust, cats, dogs, horses, and has asthma
#2 son - peanuts, shellfish, eggs, every grass, weed, tree, mold, dust, dogs, cats, horses, cows, and has severe asthma

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By janbiv2 on Tue, 05-27-08, 02:18

Originally Posted By: mom of L&CI agree with poodles, krusty, and christy!

So do I.

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By michellerene on Tue, 05-27-08, 17:47

I also agree with all of you. I just didn't see the "B/W the lines; hidden agenda" that some of you saw with Trying2understand. I am constantly jarring with my daughters school about her safety and what they need to do. But you are right, I deal with administration not other parents.

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By Janet76 on Wed, 05-28-08, 07:15

I'm sorry but it seems everyone on this topic lives in the United States, and i am amazed that a power-house country like urs is not making it law to have all schools and licenced day-cares nut free. This is the lives of our children and you have to apply to have them safe. To request that their life is important, more important than someone who has a picky eater. Why is that child's life more important because they don't like ham sandwiches? Yet mine could die because they refuse to change their eating habits.
All schools should be nut free, along with day-cares, gyms, areans, anywhere that is ment for children activites. I'm sure that a lot is being done to get ur goverment to go nut free, but to argue over who's life is more important is just down right disturbing.
Yes we are educating our children on what they can and can't eat but they are children! Who keeps them safe when they can't!

I'm sorry but I am just amazed this is even an issue. The school should be nut free. For safety reasons, bottom line.

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By gw_mom3 on Wed, 05-28-08, 07:22

I think part of the problem is that the peanut growers in this country have a lot of power with the politicians. I'm sure we'd all love for more food allergy support in this country. I know I would.

__________________

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~Gale~

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By janbiv2 on Wed, 05-28-08, 14:03

On the off chance that the OP comes back to read this post, I wanted to post this letter I found on the internet:

I wrote this letter a couple years ago when the elementary school my daughter was about to attend went nut free. I was one of those moms all of you worry about, but quickly educated myself about peanut allergies and now try to educate others who dont have to walk in your shoes. If it will help you at the school board meeting, feel free to copy it into a word program and print it out.
_____________________________________
Dear Parents and Guardians:

I am writing this letter to you because your school has decided to implement a ban on peanuts, tree nuts, and/or other foods that have been associated with life-threatening allergies, and I know the initial reaction you may have regarding such a ban.

I am the mother of a little girl who started school this year. About two weeks before school started I read in a local newspaper that the school she will be attending has decided to put such a ban into effect.

My first reaction was one of shock, but it quickly turned into complete ANGER! I couldn

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By gw_mom3 on Thu, 05-29-08, 03:40

That letter was written by turlisa who used to be active here. I think someone mentioned her in this thread (possibly not by name). I love that she came for a fight and ended up being one of our staunchest allies.

__________________

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~Gale~

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By williamsmummy on Thu, 05-29-08, 09:57

as a uk poster, I cant but help feeling jealous that your kids dont start full time school until they are 6!
UK children are in full time school at 4 1/2!

you US people are LUCKY LUCKY people.

As with many allergic children , peanut is just one of many allergies to avoid.

All children in state education in key stage one, recieve a whole piece of fresh fruit. I would never want to stop that happening in school , simply because my child has a fruit allergy.

i have always tried my best to work with parents and the teachers in my sons school.
I DONT expect them to understand the severity until I explain it in good clear terms, then I go on to explain the steps we take to keep our child reaction free, and that its possible to do the same in school.

starting full time school as such a young child meant that I had little time to drum in some good clear surival tips.
by 6 years old my son knew how to care for himself by avoiding the food offered by forgetful adults.
he was reading food labels with me, and we could have starter type chats about safe food, and play games like 'spot the nut',
He also could eat proplerly at the table with a knife and fork, and be relied upon to wash his hands.
He also would never share any food, or touch others meals etc.
A whole world of difference , when compared to a 4 1/2 yr old.

I read USA posts about allergy free tables, and wonder if all USA child have no Idea how to eat with a knife and fork, do they REALLY throw food around, ALL OF THEM? do they constantly Miss their mouths ? are they all flithy, and covered in food?

We went to USA ( about 5 states ) for hols last year, we had the best time in our lives there ( want to go back BTW) and every child i saw there was less grubby than my own!
They werent covered in peanut butter, even the little ones.
I can only guess this was because the children were out of school,and perhaps the schools use peanut butter as some sort of painting material!!

there is always a sensible middle ground, all allergic children can be included in education.
However , I do think that parents have to go in to school explaining the high risk early years, but explain that things change in school life as the child grows older, because the child has to take more responsibilty for his allergies as he/she grows older.

Certainly by 12 , if your child hasnt accepted a decent level of responsibilty , the teenage years are quite frankly going to be a nightmare.

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By Krusty Krab on Thu, 05-29-08, 18:13

[b]I read USA posts about allergy free tables, and wonder if all USA child have no Idea how to eat with a knife and fork, do they REALLY throw food around, ALL OF THEM? do they constantly Miss their mouths ? are they all flithy, and covered in food?[/b]

You're kidding, right? Do uk children regularly eat PB&J (peanut allergy concern) with a knife and fork? Cheesy chips (milk allergy concern) with tongs? UK children do not touch the tables during lunch, or chairs, or other children? Ever? Wow, what a lucky place to be!

[b]I do think that parents have to go in to school explaining the high risk early years.[/b]

Very very true.

__________________

I'm not a doctor, see your own for advice.

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By janbiv2 on Thu, 05-29-08, 20:24

Originally Posted By: gw_mom3That letter was written by turlisa who used to be active here. I think someone mentioned her in this thread (possibly not by name). I love that she came for a fight and ended up being one of our staunchest allies.

This is probably where I found the letter! :-)

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By lan13d on Thu, 05-29-08, 20:25

As a peanut alleryg mom, I appreciate your willingness to do research on Peanut Allergies and ways around them at your child's school. But I competely understand the "nutty mom". Imagine how you would feel to find out that your child quit breathing at school, and almost died because another parent sent a peanut product with their child, who happened to be sitting with yours at lunch, or snack. We moms, regardless of what our child's limitations are, snap into protective mode when we think our children are at risk of being harmed. Yes, our children need to know their limitations as far as what they can be exposed to, and what they cannot, but as parents, it is also our job to teach our children that we are also responsible for being kind and looking out for the best interest of others. Peanut allergies are similar to a disibility, and peanut allergies kill... would you say that your school should not install elivators just because the children in wheelchairs need them? I am sure you wouldn't. You sound like a very nice person... just imagine it were your child.... that is all I am asking.

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By williamsmummy on Thu, 05-29-08, 23:17

well of course they dont eat sandwiches with knifes and forks,but quite frankly my son is allergic to many other foods that people eat with their fingers.

I couldnt ban all of my sons allergic foods, I could ask the school to reduce the risk, but would never , ever support a ban.

My son started school with a long list of allergens, inc hive reactions to egg if standing in a kitchen when it was being cooked.
He only had one contact reaction at school...........and that was to tree pollen.
Food wise, contact reactions didnt happen.
He has always sat with other children at the table, at all times.

I think contact reactions at school are rare. Other allergic children that I know in the school have never had a problem with this, and i have asked other parents of allergic children in our area. They have had problems getting the severity across and teaching school staff, but contact reactions as such , dont happen much.

I wonder if this is to do with a general school hygeine problem/practices, esp with regard to food eaten in classroom?

if it is, then allergy concerns should be grouped togther with other problems such as food posioning and other infectious disease.

if it is, then thats one against the hygeine theory isnt it?!

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By lakeswimr on Fri, 05-30-08, 01:41

Originally Posted By: williamsmummy

He only had one contact reaction at school...........and that was to tree pollen.
Food wise, contact reactions didnt happen.

I think contact reactions at school are rare.
I wonder if this is to do with a general school hygeine problem/practices, esp with regard to food eaten in classroom?

You might feel differently if your child like mind had had anaphyalaxis from contact.

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By williamsmummy on Fri, 05-30-08, 11:23

possibly, but then again, my son does have anaphylaxis response to dogs. after being in a room with one.

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By poodles02 on Sat, 05-31-08, 11:32

In addition to contact reactions, we have to also consider that small children tend to touch their faces and put their fingers in their mouths. If peanut residue is around, this could result in ingestion of the allergen, and consequently, a severe and possibly fatal reaction.

Why take that chance in a school environment just so that the other kids can have PBJ? Why not just eat the PBJ at home, and have other foods at school? I don't understand why there is so much resistance to going nut free in pre-schools and elementary schools. It seems like a reasonable measure to me in light of the fact that nut allergies have become so prevalent and are so dangerous.

By the way, williamsmummy, I want to say that the UK is a beautiful, historic, and fascinating place in my opinion, so I think you are lucky too. :-)

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By lakeswimr on Sat, 05-31-08, 15:39

[url="http://www.readersdigest.com.au/content/29701/"]http://www.readersdigest.com.au/content/29701/[/url]

[url="http://www.rd.com/living-healthy/when-food-turns-fatal/article26968.html"]http://www.rd.com/living-healthy/when-food-turns-fatal/article26968.html[/url]

Both have stories of people who had ana even though they didn't consume any allergens. One woman was at a wedding with open bowls of nuts.

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By bonestable on Sat, 05-31-08, 15:56

I am from the UK, but both of my children were born here, in the USA.

My almost 5 year old is allergic to peanuts, dairy, sesame, kiwi fruit....

I am so happy that if we stay where we live now she will not be doing full time school until she is turning 7. Dealing with allergy issues at the preschool and half day kindergarten level has to be so much easier than full day. If we were in England, she would be completing her first year of full day school now. I agree that those 3 years will make a huge difference - hopefully she will have outgrown some allergies, or at least reduced her sensitivity. If not, then she will be much better equipped to keep herself safe at 7 than at 4, and the students will hopefully be tidier eaters.

On the other hand, it does seem like peanut products and cheesy crackers are everywhere here, especally in places freqented by children. There seems to be constant eating, more so than in other countries, at least the ones that I have lived in!

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By pfmom2 on Sun, 06-01-08, 12:04

[i]I think contact reactions at school are rare.[/i]

Why is there a need to group all allergy children the same? Do you know every parent of food allergic children in the UK?

In the US peanut butter is a highly consumed product and for my child, it makes school difficult because it's a loved childhood food.

My child did have a contact reaction at school and another child with a different allergy in the school also had a contact reaction twice at school.

What is safe for one child is not necessarily what is needed for another child. My child does sit at a peanut free table because of the contact sensitivity. Be glad your child can sit next to others who are eating the allergens that your child is allergic to. But why is it necessary to put down those parents who feel it is needed for their child?

__________________

In the middle of difficulty lies opportunity.

Albert Einstein

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By williamsmummy on Sun, 06-01-08, 14:57

my son is contact reactive, and has a long list of food allergies, i am for a reduce the risk, and close supervision.
I am never, never, going to go for a ban on ONE food.

my son is allergic to a very common british food that children eat all the time...........let alone all the other stuff.
the peanut stuff is one of many.

by 7 yrs old they are more than capable of sitting with other children, with out sharing food etc. I have never agreed with peanut free tables.

parents , quite rightly get consumed by the idea of making the world as safe as possible for their child.
But life, is not without risk. we must never forget that,every time we walk across the road , or sit in a car.
its the same risk, or much higher.

I do think parents have to carefully balance there high need comfort zones and ask the question, ' is your comfort zone there for the child , or for you and your fear'?
and what is my child learning from this ?
is your childs quality of life being reduced without good reason?

Is your child's diet choices reduced , because of fear of an allergy to a new food? rather than a real possibilty of a reaction?
for instance,
ie if your child is allergic to bananas , are you preventing your child from eating any other sort of exotic fruit, in case of reaction?

have you refused some social occasions because of your fear, rather than exploring chioces.

do you never go to resturants , because there is no way you could trust anyone else.

do you never travel far, because you couldnt brave the food issue?

I WAS that parent, and I soon changed my tune.............because a more normal life for many allergic children is possible, and is vital for there mental health.

There are few that cant go to school/food places etc, and those are rare amoung the allergic, even for the rare bods that allergic children are.

I know this , because part of my life has been spent meeting other parents , who spend a life in fear , and keep their child apart from many aspects of normal life.

We mustnt EVER forget that our children are normal , totally normal, and will do the normal things that children, teens and adults do. They will drink, have sex , give you grandchildren, get spots , ( not in that order!)etc

Question yourself, think about your child's future and how you will change your comfort zones, how you will plan to raise your child's survival rating, by teaching them how to live life, not avoiding , but facing things and learning from them.
There is a middle ground, there is a way forward.
total exclusion is not always the way.

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By lakeswimr on Sun, 06-01-08, 15:20

Williamsmummy,

I do agree that it isn't good to have *more* restrictions on our children than needed but trust me, you don't know what my son's school cafeteria situation is like and you don't know the situation in the schools of the other posters here, etc. Also, you say your child is contact reactive but your child hasn't had a contact reaction in school. Your child hasn't had anaphylaxis from contact. My child *has*. If your child had you would of course be looking for ways to limit possible contact. I have already described that at my son's school there is *no way* he can sit at the regular tables and not have his lunch get into the lunches of other children. His lunch box lid would end up touching the other children's lunches. I have personally never seen seats so very close together as the ones at his school. We *tried* to have him at the peanut-free tables on the first day. These are not at all isolated. Anyone who gets hot lunch can sit at them. more than half the children get hot lunch and the peanut-free tables are always filled (every seat filled) with children. Sitting there wouldn't be isolating for DS in the least. in the first minute DS almost got milk spilled on him three times. One child nearly tipped her tray on his head and the tray was filled with dairy products. Another child tipped over her milk and it nearly spilled on DS--I had to move him out of the way and a third something happened that I now forget. I was adamant that DS sit there and not where he currently sits but that day I saw that it wasn't possible. It certainly wasn't safe. American 5 year olds still spill milk and sometimes spill trays. The lunch trays are big enough that if DS were to sit next to them and open his lunch box the lid of his lunch box would go into the food of the children around him. That is how small the eating area is.

So, for now my son is at his own table. Not ideal and I hope his dairy allergy goes away soon so he can sit with the kids at the hot lunch tables and just be a regular child.

You don't have to be able to see peanut butter on a child for the child to have enough peanut butter on them to cause another child to have a reaction. Sitting next to a child won'[t cause my child to react unless my child gets peanut butter on his hands and transfers it to his eyes, nose or mouth. The chance of my son getting peanut butter on his hands goes up hugely if he eats sitting right up against children eating p eanut butter. he has reacted in cases where there wasn't even any peanut butter around but children had formerly played with toys with messy hands.

I'm glad your school situation is working for your child. Imagine if someone here takes your advice and their child has a serious reaction? You can't possibly know the right thing for all other people.

In answer to your question--I started taking no precautions other than reading labels. My son reacted. I took more precautions, my son reacted, etc. I have taken precautions out of NEED. If he hadn't been reacting I wouldn't have taken the added precautions beyond label reading. label reading and just eating his own food doesn't work for *my* child.

Also, according to the Peanut Allergy Answer Book it takes *1000* times less peanut than it does most other allergens (seeds are also equally potent and nuts nearly so) than other allergens to cause a reaction. Peanut butter is a very messy substance that is difficult to clean. Also, in the USA over 90% of all food allergy deaths are from exposure to peanuts. This is the reason there is a bigger focus on peanuts than other allergens. My son also has multiple food allergies and the emphasis on peanuts makes sense to me.

And as I said, while I would love a peanut ban at DS's school, his school doesn't have one.

I never understand fully why someone who has food allergies/a child with food allergies would want to undermine the attempts of another dealing with food allergies to get accommodations that they or their doctor feels are important. If they aren't important for *you* then great. The 'crazy nut woman' is in a school that is hostile toward her and this was a chance for us to open the OP's mind and get her to be more understanding.

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By pfmom2 on Sun, 06-01-08, 16:33

My child also has multiple food allergies, but it is necessary for my child to sit at a peanut free table (and let me tell you it is not the most positive experience for my child, but the only option, although a few great friendships have formed out of this). The school is not peanut free, but reduces the risk as you stated you agree with, but it still is risky every day for my child. Tell me, as an adult, when would a person ever be forced to sit near others who are eating something they are contact, deathly allergic to, is that reality? As an adult, you have the right to move, the right to leave, but unfortunately in a school setting it is not the case. So, your point being they need to be subjected to this as a child when they are less able to protect themselves? Those of us who have needed safe-guards are doing it because we've seen what the other option is, and risking life-threatening reactions are not an option. It is not fear, but what we have witnessed and lived through (maybe some are doing it out of fear, but once again, why do we need to put down other parents in the food-allergic community?) What is best for one allergic child, might not be for another.
The fact that the original poster put this mother as a "crazy-nut lady" was offensive enough. She wanted to come into a community of parents/adults of food allergic children and gain support with a demeaning comment such as that? I agree with Krusty Krab's comments, and wondered about the agenda, as she could have left that out.

__________________

In the middle of difficulty lies opportunity.

Albert Einstein

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By williamsmummy on Sun, 06-01-08, 17:22

I have put a different point of view on this thread. it just doenst match your own.

Our children , when adults will always be near there food allergens.
full stop, and quite frankly , they will have little need to move, because of this, simply sitting next to someone is NOT enough to kill an adult.

however this subject is about children, and yes its a whole different ball game.

I cant know about each school, I can read research , and look at life skills , and form my own , wildly differing opinons than others.

I am also have been privaledged to meet MANY other allergic children and their parents.
I have had many allergic children in my care over the years.

because of the complex nature of the vast majority of anaphylactic reactions, I only belive that the airbourne total anaphylaxis had other reasons for going full blown.

It has nothing to do with just a 'mere trace'
but more to do with the mere trace, and plus added factors that build up a clearer picture of allergy deaths.

understanding that can help us prevent mild reactions from going full blown in our children. other health factors play a huge role.

But am drifting from true subject,

so with regard to total ban of food in classrooms, no , I dont think that is good.

for a start that would include cookery lessons, something an allergic child can not afford to miss.

total peanut bans, DO = false sense of security.

I want to work with the school, and focus on them, and what they need to do to avoid a reaction.

I dont want them thinking everything is safe, because little johnny is sitting on a peanut free table, or spend time checking others food.
Or missing out that the nasty tummy bug going round, might not be the real reason the allergic child is throwing up.

The focus should not be on banning, it should be back on the child.
high need for early years, backing of as they get older.

There is so much anxity fuelled by the myth that even touching or smelling a peanut is likely to cause death. when many other factors come in to play.

My son IS one of the rare allergic children , even amoung other allergic children, words that fell from my son's allergy consultants mouth.

but somehow he is a lean , healthy 12 yr old, who has his own comfort zone. he has spent a life opening doors, holding his friends hands ,and is constantly dirty, with bike oil on all exposed parts of his body.

I find this all so ironic, as I am the 'allergy lady' in my town, I have had countless parents with allergic children tell me that my son is more allergic than there child.
when , quite frankly he is not.
So its quite different to be here , and experiencing the different side of the coin , so to speak.

in the uk 1/2 mill have severe food allergy, allergy highest in young children, one in 17
in most cases allergy mild.
80-90 % outgrow milk/egg/soy/wheat ( but thats changing, new studies are showing drop in outgrowing in new recent generation)
other allergies life long
one in 70 penaut allergic
one in 20% outgrow.

severe reactions =most life threatening are when significant quantities of an allergen have been consumed.
the anaphylaxis campaign have had no deaths reported caused by allergen cross contamination in the UK.

children respond to reactions with better results the quicker they have piriton ( antihistmine) one study showed.

childrens death from allergy are rare,
allergy deaths in uk are from 13-25 yrs.

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By poodles02 on Sun, 06-01-08, 17:44

My child is contact reactive also. In fact, she once had anaphalaxis simply after touching a pine cone. Her RAST numbers are "off the scale" high for both peanut and tree nuts.

Because of her food allergies, we have made adjustments to our lifestyle, but this does not mean that her life is not full and active. I don't believe that her quality of life is reduced, but the fact remains that we must exercise extreme caution. We simply have to be creative and find safe ways to enjoy life.

For example, when we travel, we use our RV (caravan) and prepare our own food. We've travelled all over the USA this way. For short trips, we stay in a hotel with a microwave and fridge and I bring food in an ice chest. Also, Disney World is a great option for us and we go once a year. We eat in the restaurants there because they handle food allergies so expertly.

We also homeschool our daughter, primarily due to her food allergies. This does not mean that we sit at home all the time in isolation. She goes to art classes, horseback riding, swim team, girl scouts, church activities, and so on. When food is served at any of these activities, we bring our own safe food from home. Also, I am present "in the background" in case of a reaction.

This may seem to be a very narrow "comfort zone" to some, but it works for us. I realize that as my daughter matures and becomes more independent, she will need to manage her allergy without as much supervision from us. We are working now to give her the coping skills and knowledge that she will need in order to do that.

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By poodles02 on Sun, 06-01-08, 17:51

williamsmummy, I like your point about cookery lessons. I think that cooking well is an extremely important skill for someone with food allergies. I have been teaching my daughter to cook for years, and she can prepare many foods already at age 10. This is a good example of a positive action that we can take to help our children manage their food allergies throughout their lives.

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By mom2landz on Mon, 06-02-08, 14:59

williamsmummy-

i'm still pretty new here, so take what i have to say with a grain of salt. but it's quite interesting to me that you seem to be belittling other parents' means of protecting their children. you said yourself that you used to be extremely cautious, but now your son is 12 and has a good comfort zone. i hope by the time my son is 12 that he can take some of the reins with his food allergy awareness. i'm sure that as i teach him to be cautious in the early years, he will be quite capable of keeping himself safe in the later years. of course, i will always be vigilant.

you've gotten through the early years with your son. please don't forget what it is like for others who are just starting down this road.

__________________

DS#1-env allergies
DS#2-allergic to peanut, pea, milk & egg
DD-allergic to sunflower, milk & egg

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By Krusty Krab on Mon, 06-02-08, 15:18

Maybe we should get rid of seatbelts in cars. Or maybe throw out the fire extinguisher in the schools, don't want kids getting a false sense of security, right? Peanut bans are reducing the risk strategy. You know, for the children who need a little more help to stay, well, [i]alive[/i]--including the ones with 'added health factors' that make their reactions go to 'full blown'. Like asthma.

And reaction by touch? It [i]does[/i] happen. And it can be severe. See if you can find this article:

[i]J Invest Allergol Clin Immunol 2004; Vol. 14(2): 168-171

Severe systemic allergic reaction induced by accidental skin contact with cow milk in a 16-year-old boy. A case report.[/i]

This child experienced urticaria-angiodema, cough, bronchial obstruction, and more [i]from a drop of milk that accidentally touched his shoulder.[/i] Had to have epi, steroids, and more. I'm sure you'll say how rare, and on and on. But it happens and it's real and ought not to be dismissed.

Quote: Question yourself, think about your child's future and how you will change your comfort zones, how you will plan to raise your child's survival rating, by teaching them how to live life, not avoiding , but facing things and learning from them.

I appreciate the above comment, really. At the same time, I think mom2landz has nailed what I'm feeling about your posts when she said this:

[i]you've gotten through the early years with your son. please don't forget what it is like for others who are just starting down this road.[/i]

__________________

I'm not a doctor, see your own for advice.

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By williamsmummy on Mon, 06-02-08, 16:41

so.........when going back to the idea of ALL food being banned from classrooms and certain types of food banned from schools,.............. is this the ONLY way foward to protect allergic children in school?
Is it truely the best way to protect these children?

Is it?

ITS NOT THE KIDS THAT GET THE FALSE SENSE OF SECURITY, IT THE ADULTS IN THAT CHILD'S CARE!

Are they more relaxed?, because they have a simple belief that certain foods dont cross their door?

I would never go for a total ban on foods, my attitude to teachers is one, allergy management within school life, and TWO , more importantly, the fact that my allergic child WILL have a reaction, the only question we dont know is WHEN.

Putting that idea in to the whole school staff, coupled with sensible policy , backed up medically , in a calm collected way , is going to lead to better disscussion and a firm good relationship with the teachers, and then later on with the extended parents linked to the school.

Let's leave food alone for a moment, and think about latex allergies, which are far more difficult to avoid for a young child.
would it be the safe option to ask all parents to look for and avoid letting their kids bring in products with latex?
Think about it hard, because people wear latex, is banning going to work there?
If a food allergic parent can demand bans , why cant a parent of a latex allergic child?, would you happily read an entire folder of lists of where latex is found , and remove it from your non allergic child? without making a mistake? ever?

once total banning is in place, are we then going to ask teachers not to eat peanuts before teaching class?
or pick what they are going to have before breakfast?

I think that the whole idea of this non pa mother hanging around here and the background of the so called 'nutty mother' tells more about the school and the support this parent is getting than anything else. its total pants.

As a parent, her whole focus should be on the teachers and supporting them in keeping her child 'tickerty boo', the teachers should be dealing with other parents.
The focus should be on an individual policy to keep this child safe, and not with total food bans.
Which will not happen effectively while her energy and concern in over keeping all food out of school and the tide of nasty agression from parents.

There are so many ways of dealing with this in a positive and effective way, rather than down this negative route.

once again, i point out that this is my honest view of the situation.

Should i waffle on about my sons reactions in detail over the years?...........no, have done enough of that. its tedious. and not applicable.
however, my view on this was formed, after a very bad experience with his school that did ban peanuts.
but that is another story, and has nothing to do with contact.

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By Krusty Krab on Mon, 06-02-08, 18:44

I'll say it again. Peanut bans are a reduce the risk strategy.

If peanut bans provided 100% assurance (truest sense of security), then parents of children with LTFA would not send their child into the school year with epi pens and meds, action plans, and never speak with teachers about allergy again.

On the contrary, parents of children with LTFA at a peanut banned school DO keep their meds and action plans, they DO speak and educate teachers about symptoms, meds, etc. There is no false sense of security with peanut bans, and that's my humble opinion, backed up by the behaviors I've listed above.

Peanut bans are about reducing the risk. And I would hope that anyone seeking one would also take that note to heart, and to the administration.

__________________

I'm not a doctor, see your own for advice.

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By gw_mom3 on Mon, 06-02-08, 19:22

Originally Posted By: Krusty KrabI'll say it again. Peanut bans are a reduce the risk strategy.

If peanut bans provided 100% assurance (truest sense of security), then parents of children with LTFA would not send their child into the school year with epi pens and meds, action plans, and never speak with teachers about allergy again.

On the contrary, parents of children with LTFA at a peanut banned school DO keep their meds and action plans, they DO speak and educate teachers about symptoms, meds, etc. There is no false sense of security with peanut bans, and that's my humble opinion, backed up by the behaviors I've listed above.

Peanut bans are about reducing the risk. And I would hope that anyone seeking one would also take that note to heart, and to the administration.

I agree. Normally you hear about people who are not dealing with any LTFA talk about how bans are a false sense of security. I don't remember ever hearing that from a fellow PA/TNA parent. Until now I guess. I thought we all were pretty much in agreement that it's reduction of risk, not elimination of it.

__________________

==============
~Gale~

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