Article on food allergy in Child mag.

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In the April 99 issue of Child magazine, there is a article on food allergies, focusing somewhat on peanut allergies. Suprising though there is no mention of using Epi-pens only Benadryl.

Carol S.

On Mar 10, 1999

Hi Carol. I'm Laura, and my son Logan was the subject of the article. Be advised that I have not received the magazine yet - and it is not on newstands in my area yet. The magazine only read back my "quotes" to me. I have not seen the published article yet. I am, however, distressed that there was no mention of the use of adrenaline. Epi-pens are the first line of choice drugs for food allergic children. Everyone should be aware of that, and remember that. Benadryl is no substitute. I told the author that. However, the magazine chose to publish what they thought was the most catchy "angle" of the story. The point was to raise public awareness of food allergies and educate parents of their child's rights while at school. I'm hoping that the article achieved that goal. In any event, if you have any questions or problems pertaining to the school issue, I'd be happy to help. Just post here, or email me.

On Mar 11, 1999

Hi Laura, I would appreciate any information you can give me on how to raise the awareness of food allergy to school staff. My 4th child, who is 16 months old, is anaphylactic to peanut and egg. Since I am very involved in the school PTA with my 2 older children, I approached the nurse on the subject. She said that since finding out about Sean's condition, she is trying to get the School to pay for a kit that will help her inservice train the other staff ($75.00). She also indicated that she had 2 other children for which she kept Epi-pens for. (Only she knows how to use it) I can not believe that the Board of Education has not made any efforts to educate school personnel on the dangers of Food Allergy and the use of an Epi-Pen. Any suggestions you have are welcomed. I don't want to be pushy, but I have already seen the affects of what exposure can do (ruptured blood vessels in the eyes, hives, scratching, difficulty breathing, and then unconsciousness) all in a matter of minutes. Any delay will certainly be deadly. Thanks, Lynda

[This message has been edited by Lynda (edited March 11, 1999).]

On Mar 12, 1999


I just read the article in "Child" about you and your son, and it brought tears to my eyes. It was so refreshing to hear another person's story and to see you helping to educate and increase awareness which will help us all so much.

I had a question that I didn't think was clear in the article. Did the school become totally peanut free, or did they allow peanut in the cafeteria, but not the classroom? Just curious about how you were able to work that out, and how you really feel about your son's safety there.

Thanks so much for suggesting that article -- they may not have gotten it all right, but I think it gave our allergy some much needed exposure.

Stay safe, and thank you -- Elizabeth


On Mar 12, 1999

Hi Lynda. I'll be proceeding here assuming your child is in public school. I'll try to be as concise as possible.

The single most important thing you can do to protect your peanut allergic child while at school is to formally refer him or her for a special education evaluation. This will result in your child being classified as disabled. Don't panic! This is a good thing. There is no negative impact on your child. In fact, quite the opposite. It's this classification which will guarantee your child will be afforded protection under one or more of three Federal Laws which apply to all public schools in all states. It's these laws which will enable you to work with your child's school to implement a plan to assure safety and appropriate medical treatment while at school.

Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act:

It's this law that most peanut allergic students will fall under. It's a civil rights statute and it protects your child from preschool through college. Your child is covered under 504 if two conditions are met:

1. He or she has a disability as defined by statute: In a nutshell (no pun intended) 504 defines a disability as a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more "major life activities". Peanut allergy affects various body systems - cardiovascular, digestive, respiratory, and skin. BINGO. Definition met.

2. In addition to meeting the definition of disabled, your child also has to have a record of the impairment (at some point during your child's classification the school will want to see medical documentation pertaining to the peanut allergy. When you are asked to provide this, make sure your doctor specifies what it is your child is allergic to and the life systems which can be affected, the treatment plan, and specifics as to drugs to be utilized and dosage).

So. Your child qualifies under 504. What does the school have to do? They'll come up (with your input) with either a special ed program (meaning a plan that meets the needs of your child) or in lieu of that a regular education program with related services. Under 504 your child has to be permitted to participate in non-academic activities, which include things like lunch and field trips.

What can't the school do? They CANNOT deny your child admittance. They CANNOT deny your child the right to participate in activities or services. They CANNOT refuse to administer medication, even if they do not have a full time nurse. You should check with your state Dept. of Ed. to see if they have detailed protocols on the administration of medication. My state, Connecticut, does not. All that the state requires is that someone has to administer the Epi-pen. The state has no mandates as to who that someone is. It's worked out on a district to district basis. In my son's case, the entire staff at his school has been trained in food allergies, and Epi-pen administrators are his teacher, teachers aide, school nurse, nurses aide, and principal.

II. The Individuals With Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). This act covers your child ages 3-21. The requirements for your peanut allergic child to fall under this statute are more stringent than 504.

Meeting the definition of a disabled child is a problem for the peanut allergic here. While the allergy falls under the catch-all "other health impairment" under the statute, the problem is that having a health impairment, a PURE PHYSICAL CONDITION, is not enough for a child to be eligible for this statute's protection. The definition continues to define a child with a disability as one who, by reason of the disability, needs special education and related services. Most peanut allergic children do not. However, if your child had another disability - such as attention deficit disorder, or a speech language delay, or some other qualifying impairment, then IDEA would apply in your case.

If your child does fall under the realm of IDEA, an IEP will be implemented which specifies your child's educational, emotional and social goals as well as services to be provided for your child.

Note that both IDEA and 504 provide for your child to be educated in regular education settings with non-disabled peers to the maximum extent possible.

III. The Americans With Disabilities Act. Another civil rights statute protecting the disabled from discrimination. It extends the rights of 504, although I don't think the schools will use it in classifying your child. This is the statute that is relevant for children in private schools and daycares, as it covers private businesses. For more information on this statute anyone interested can contact the U.S. Dept. of Justice.

Starting Pointers for Approaching Your Child's school:

Find out if the school has a special education consultant. If so contact either that person or the principal in writing detailing your child's condition, consequences of exposure and medical treatment. Include in your letter a statment that peanut allergy is a disability under Section 504. Not all schools may know this. This letter will start the ball rolling. The school CANNOT ignore your letter. BY LAW IN ALL STATES they will be required to evaluate your child (method of evaluation will vary state to state).

Next, you'll receive some form of "prior written notice" of an evaluation. The how, where, when, and who will also vary district to district. In my son's case, present at the evaluation meeting were the special ed consultant, the principal, the preschool teacher, the school nurse, the nurses aide, and the school psychologist. Your child's needs will be discussed in detail and a plan will be proposed. It's only implemented when you agree to everything on it. If you disagree, or if there is a dispute, you're entitled to a Due Process Hearing (the school will provide you with this information as well).

I could go on forever with this stuff. I hope that helps somewhat. I consider myself fortunate that my son was the first peanut allergic child to enter his school. I believe we have a model plan in place. By proceeding formally, I grabbed the opportunity to lay excellent peanut policies for not only my son, but future allergic children as well. I really think every parent should go through the red tape. It's worth it all around. The schools are very cooperative. You're not being pushy. Your child has a right to attend public school and do so in safety. The types of measures you seek really don't cost anything - it's all a matter of policy changes. Go for it!

On Mar 12, 1999

Hi Elizabeth! I still haven't received the article. I guess CT is last on their delivery list. In any event, in answer to your question, my son's accomodation plan is set for review every year, or sooner if needed. I have, however, discussed some of the things we'll be looking at next year with the principal.

This year my son is in preschool. The room he is in is isolated from the rest of the school, and he does not use common rooms with other children (lunch room or gym). He does not use water fountains. Peanuts are banned from his classroom in all forms - from food to art projects to nut oils in hand soaps and perfumes! Next year, when he is in the main school, the principal will be sending a letter to all parents of all children requesting VOLUNTARY (NOT MANDATORY) compliance in not sending children to school with peanut butter or obvious nut containing products. Next year, he told me I can meet with his cafeteria staff and review lunchroom menus, so at least the SCHOOL is not serving nut containing foods.

I am 100% confident when I send my son to school. The entire teaching staff has gone through food allergy training. Five people at school are prepared to use an Epi-pen. I've done everything possible that I can to assure my son can attend school safely. I fully expected I'd be sitting home everyday worrying to death that something would happen at school - thinking every phone call would be from the school or an emergency room. I don't think about it anymore (well, except on Halloween at school). Knowledge is power. Educate everyone at your school. It's the only way to get peace of mind.

On Mar 12, 1999

Does Child Magazine have a web site? I was hoping to find the article using their web page. If I can't find it, then I'll buy the Apr issue. Laura, once you get the magazine, you should frame the article.

Thanks for spreading the word.

[This message has been edited by Connie (edited March 12, 1999).]

On Mar 12, 1999

Never mind, I found it! (Their website that is...can't find the article).

[This message has been edited by Connie (edited March 12, 1999).]

On Mar 14, 1999

Laura...Wow thanks alot for the information. It certainly will help me on my new and life long journey. Thanks for making the road a little easier. Lynda [img][/img]

On Mar 15, 1999

Just read the article in Child and thought it was great! So glad there was mention of the difficulties with food manufacturers, this is a big problem. My MIL just argued with me today that the government MAKES them label all ingredients. Maybe seeing it in print will add credibility to my efforts to convince her(and other family members)Like Laura,I wish there had been some mention of Epi. Donna P.S. Homeshcool is not so bad!

On Mar 15, 1999

AKKK! Maybe homeSCHooling will help me learn to spell!

On Apr 14, 1999

I gave a copy of the Child magazine to the Director of my son's daycare. She is going to give copies to every parent as she found in so helpful. I am the person who is training the staff. I prefer it that way since instructions and messages can get warped or diluted with repeated transfer from individual to individual.