School Anxiety

10 replies [Last post]
By parent on Mon, 06-30-08, 15:17

Hi everyone. I am new to this site. I actually just discovered it a few days ago. I have a son with a peanut allergy. He will be five in August and will be starting Kindergarten in the fall. While at his kindergarten screening, my husband and I informed the school of his PA. They told us that they didn't have any other child in the whole school, K-12, with a PA. They said they used to have one a few years ago. That alone seems crazy. They even offer PB&J as an alternative to hot lunch EVERYDAY. We talked to the nurse, principal and superintendent. They said that they would make the proper precautions to keep my son away from peanuts, mainly just putting him at a separate table at lunch. We obviously don't feel that this is enough to keep him safe since he has a reaction just from contact. (Is this common?) Not to mention, making him feel left out and isolated from all of the other children. The nurse said they would not make him sit alone. For example, she said that they could ask his friends parents not to send any peanut products for lunch a few days a week so they could sit together. I would ultimately like to see them make it a peanut free school. But I can just imagine what a huge battle that would be. I am also afraid that would put a target on my son and me and we would be discriminated against. The more I read about others peoples experiences, the more I get freaked out. At this point, I am ready to homeschool him. But I am also hesitant about that because he is so outgoing and loves to be around other children. I don't know what to do. Please help!

(Also posted in Introduce Yourself)

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By nutty1 on Mon, 06-30-08, 18:56

Are you in a very small town, with a very small school system?? I can't believe they don't have any other PA children, that I just don't buy! That is a tough situation you are in, I don't know much about homeschooling but I personally would never do it- for the reason you hinted at. Your child is outgoing, its good and healthy for children to be around other children. Homeschooling just seems like it would limit a child in so many ways, particularly socially. Why don't you start smaller, rather that thinking you want the whole school to be peanut free, how about starting with making his classroom peanut free? See how that goes, and move on from there.

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By parent on Mon, 06-30-08, 19:53

The school has approximently 100 children per grade, K-12. It's very hard for us to believe that out of 1300 children, our child is the only one with a peanut allergy. We are trying to set up a meeting with the principal to discuss a plan. We haven't heard back from him yet. Hopefully he is cooperative and we can all agree on a solution.

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By jenniferbfab on Mon, 06-30-08, 19:55

Our school also offers PB sandwiches everyday as well. My PA child is not in school yet, but I have to confess I would like the school to stop serving the PB sandwiches. I do not imagine they would ever go peanut "free" so that is not something I'd pursue. People have such strong feelings about that. That was a good suggestion, to have the classroom be peanut-free. I hope they will agree to it! And hopefully that will involve a letter to the parents from the school nurse or other school rep asking for other families' cooperation. You'll probably have to help the school along. (Our teacher thought Purell was enough to clean peanut allergen off dirty hands!)

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By parent on Tue, 07-01-08, 15:17

I just got off the phone with a private school in our area. There are about 80-100 children in the whole school, K-8. I told the principal our concerns and about him having a reaction from just contact. She told me that they too have PB&J as an alternative everyday. She also said that her son would be in my son's Kindergarten class and he would be eating Pb&J everyday. What a slap in the face! She didn't take it seriously at all. She is the PRINCIPAL! I'm sure there is no way she would agree to a peanut-free classroom when her child is in it and obviously eats nothing but PB&J everyday for lunch. She didn't say anything about handwashing or separate tables. All she basically said was that I could bring in my own snacks and everyone would be aware of his allergy. She also asked if my son was aware of his allergy. Obviously his is! She thought that because he is aware, that alone would keep him safe. He is very cautious about what he eats and he knows to always ask before he eats something when my husband and I are not with him. But he has no control over what he touches. I am shocked at the response I got from her. So I guess that school is out of the question. I am still waiting for the public school principal to contact me about a meeting. Hopefully that goes better. If not, it looks like my only other option is to homeschool.

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By jenniferbfab on Tue, 07-01-08, 21:05

This is terrible. I sincerely hope the public school is more responsive. I hate to suggest this but have you contemplated getting a disability/special ed lawyer, as a last resort? (I thought of this b/c the local support group here (in Mass) recently had a disabilities/special ed lawyer come speak about "your child's rights at school".)

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By jenniferbfab on Tue, 07-01-08, 21:41

Or maybe a group like foodallergysmart.org could help? (Sounds so much less confrontational than hiring a lawyer)

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By poodles02 on Sat, 07-05-08, 22:33

This is the same kind of experience we had with our child's former private school, and we didn't feel that the public schools in our area were a viable option. We beat our head against the wall for 5 years, K4 - 3rd, and finally decided to homeschool. I'm so glad we made that decision, and I wish we had done it all along.

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By poodles02 on Sat, 07-05-08, 22:50

Originally Posted By: nutty1 Are you in a very small town, with a very small school system?? I can't believe they don't have any other PA children, that I just don't buy! That is a tough situation you are in, I don't know much about homeschooling but I personally would never do it- for the reason you hinted at. Your child is outgoing, its good and healthy for children to be around other children. Homeschooling just seems like it would limit a child in so many ways, particularly socially. Why don't you start smaller, rather that thinking you want the whole school to be peanut free, how about starting with making his classroom peanut free? See how that goes, and move on from there.

My homeschooled child is not limited socially. We are actively involved in our local homeschooling association - she had a blast this past year and made a lot of friends. Homeschooling doesn't have to mean social isolation, you just have to make the effort to find social outlets and activities for your child. My child was involved this past year in art classes, girl scouts, church activities, horseback riding, piano, swimming lessons, 4H, and there were numerous parties and activities with our hs association. Also, there are some great materials available for homeschooling - I feel that she got a very good, sound education for the year. She also has had more time to read and has read a mountain of books this year. It does take a lot of time and energy to do homeschooling right, but it is well worth it in my experience.

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By traceykva on Tue, 07-22-08, 17:29

My severely PA son was in kindergarten last year. It was very stressful, as he had always been in a peanut-free environment in daycare and preschool. Homeschooling wasn't an option for us. We asked for and received a section 504 determination that required the school to provide a separate table for snacks and lunch (there was another PA girl in his class so he always had company), required the FA kids to go to lunch first so that there wasn't any contamination where they bought their food, and required children to wash hands on arrival to school and immediately after lunch and snack. I only ever let my son buy milk but the other PA girl bought lunch often. After discussing it with the county and school nutrition employees, I was comfortable with the steps they took to keep the PB&J separate. They have PB&J as an option every day but made it in a separate area, and individually wrapped each sandwich. They took precautions in the cafeteria to protect the FA kids (like providing covers for the FA kids to put over the keypad where they typed in their ID to charge their food). There were often children with PB sitting within several spaces of my son, but they left at least one space between them and he was physically at another table (it was a small table pulled up to the end of a long one). I realize that this situation is not within everyone's comfort zone, but we made it through the year w/o one single incident. He never even needed Benadryl. We had to have several discussions with his teacher (there were occasional minor problems when they ate snack) but the school nurse, 504 coordinator (the school's counselor), and the county's 504 coordinator were wonderful to deal with. I am much more comfortable going into this year after our experience last year. I imagine it will get harder as he gets older w/ people thinking he can watch out for himself and they won't have to, but with the 504 plan the safety and health precautions are spelled out and it gives you something to fall back on if the schools shirks its responsibilities.

I read somewhere that some parents of PA kids choose to not fight the PB battle b/c they and school officials would possibly let down their guard if the school was PB-free, thinking there was no danger to a PA child. Everyone must be extra-vigilent if PB is allowed in a school and possibly the child may be safer in the long run.

HTH,
Tracey

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By Mrsdocrse on Wed, 07-23-08, 23:14

I am so sorry that you had this experience. Sometimes private school make there own rules.... If they even get 1 nickle of federal funding for anything then they are subject to a 504. They HAVE to make accomadations for your child.

Shame on that principal for acting they was she did. It is her responsibility as a PRINCIPAL to take the welfare of ALL the students! I would call the superintendant.

Hope fully the public school will be more accomdating.

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