Does a Life Threatening Food Allergy affect \"learning\"?

Posted on: Thu, 08/16/2007 - 12:34am
anonymous's picture
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Joined: 05/28/2009 - 16:42

I believe if a child cannot attend school due to conditions that affect his safety (therefore [i]prohibiting[/i] him from attending) we must [i]assume[/i] learning is affected and therefore rule that possibility out, or address the need.

Posted on: Thu, 08/16/2007 - 1:37am
saknjmom's picture
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Joined: 04/02/2003 - 09:00

I was considering this question the other day.
My son is pretty secure within himself and definitely reacts appropriately (meaning he proceeds with caution when PB is in the mix).
Our classrooms aren't pn free and there are no solid rules about what can be brought in for snacks, although parents are asked to refrain from sending allergens to the classroom.
I think for my child, he becomes distracted when allergens are present. Becomes more interested in verifying that the table that a child was sent to when eating an allergen was washed and the child washed up afterward. At this point, they do not stop class for the snack. They eat as the teacher is teaching.
I think that when all the "extra" food is brought in that he isn't a part of, that puts him in a different place emotionally.
So, yes, the fa IMHO does affect learning, for my child anyway.
I noticed that he was agitated sometimes after school. He is normally not aggressive or hateful. Seems that I could almost know from his behavior days that food was part of the mix.
I am going to include this in part of my 504 eligiblity meeting.

Posted on: Thu, 08/16/2007 - 6:28am
Lori Jo's picture
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Joined: 09/17/2003 - 09:00

My understanding is that the FA does not need to affect learning to be considered for a 504. It just has to affect a "major life activity". Personal safety is a major life activity. Eating lunch and snacks is a major life activity.
Being in an environment that is not safe would affect the child's ability to learn, either from fear or if they are too young to really "get it", from actual reactions. Hard to learn if you're swelled up like the dough-boy and riding on an ambulance.
(Not trying to be insensitive there, just a bit of irony.)
------------------
Lori Jo,
Rose, 7-31-02, PA
Noah, 7-29-05
Beatrice & Georgia, 8-14-99

Posted on: Thu, 08/16/2007 - 7:43am
chanda4's picture
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Joined: 12/14/2006 - 09:00

if my son was in the middle of anaphylaxis, yes, I would say his ability to learn is GREATLY effected!!! Just like a person with diabetes, can they *learn* during an episode, NO they can not. So if my son is surrounded by peanut butter in the classroom, thus triggering constant(or even daily, monthly, what-have-you) anaphylaxis...then yes his ability to learn is greatly effected. JMHO!
------------------
Chanda(mother of 4)
Sidney-8 1/2(beef and chocolate, grasses, molds, weeds, guinea pig, hamster & asthma)
Jake-6 1/2(peanut, all tree nuts, seeds(all-sesame, sunflower, poppy, pine nut) beef, chicken, eggs, coconut(also avoiding legumes), trees, grasses, weeds, molds, cats, dogs, guinea pig & eczema & asthma)
Carson-4 (peanut, tree nuts, milk, soy, egg, beef and pork, cats, dog, guinea pig, hamster, grass, mold, dust mite and EE)
Savannah-1 1/2 (milk, beef and egg, dog(avoiding peanuts, tree nuts, strawberries, seeds, legumes and corn)

Posted on: Thu, 08/16/2007 - 8:09am
Corvallis Mom's picture
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Joined: 05/22/2001 - 09:00

Absolutely.
But I also think that it is [i]crucial[/i]to distinguish between an externally-based 'standards-based-assessment' of academic progress and one which is a thorough evaluation of the child in question.
Related to saknjmom's post-- the [i]teacher[/i] may think her DS is just a little 'antsy' on those days and doesn't retain much, right? But her perspective is that he's probably not learning [i]as well as he COULD[/i] because of how his disability is impacting his learning environment. Right?
This is why kids that are particularly bright or adaptable can get bit (hard) by the notion of 'effect on learning.' Because if they are still performing 'adequately' the school can look at that as being 'just fine.' [i]See? DC's learning isn't impacted at all. Look at these standardized test scores.[/i]
That's using the wrong yardstick. The correct yardstick, in this instance, is the one which asks what the child's 'normal' learning ability would be, if [i]the disability were NOT at issue.[/i] You wouldn't look at a particularly bright child with a hearing impairment and say "Well, he's reading right on grade level and seems fine, so I think that the lip-reading alone must be working out," when his parents are telling you that he'd be able to do a whole lot better with an ASL interpreter since he doesn't lip-read very well.
Just because someone on crutches [i]can[/i] navigate stairs doesn't mean that their mobility isn't 'impaired.' Even if they can do it as quickly as [i]some[/i] able-bodied others can. KWIM?
There's a darned fine reason why this is called [i]"Handicapping" when you apply the same principles to horseracing and golf!!![/i]
Now, I know that the law is murky regarding the right to 'met potential' here.... I know that. But there is NO WAY that a child who is fearful and ever-vigilant for their own safety is experiencing the same sort of learning environment as their peers, even if they remain reaction-free.
[This message has been edited by Corvallis Mom (edited August 16, 2007).]

Posted on: Thu, 08/16/2007 - 9:09am
gvmom's picture
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Joined: 08/24/2005 - 09:00

[b]Now, I know that the law is murky regarding the right to 'met potential' here.... I know that. But there is NO WAY that a child who is fearful and ever-vigilant for their own safety is experiencing the same sort of learning environment as their peers, even if they remain reaction-free.[/b]
Because I'm seeing a correlation in my own mind about something, and I'd like clarity CM.... would something like the effects of LTFA's on learning be able to be assessed if there was a request for the district to do a psychological observation of a LTFA child during a class party (where it was possible that the exclusion of the child might take place, the introduction of unsafe food products might take place, and the child might exhibet the effects of such action during and after the party)?
Would it be, or rather should it be, part and parcel of our approach to request that the district add their psychologist to the team of "Knowledgeable Individuals"?
I know my son has had anxiety over his FA's in school. I know it affected him. We worked through it.... but now I'm wondering...... apart and aside from whether it is IDEA or 504... if we were short-sighted. Should we have gotten the district psychologist on board, or our own, to address what was going on as a manifestation of the issues occurring in the school, which could/should have been solved by the school, had we held them responsible?
BTW, I get the lead here .... again... trying to connect the dots between qualification for IDEA/IEP and LTFA's right?

Posted on: Thu, 08/16/2007 - 11:01am
notnutty's picture
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Joined: 03/15/2004 - 09:00

These topics are very interesting to me right now. Last spring we were trying to qualify my pa DS for and IEP for speech delay, specific learning disability AND for OHI (allergies and asthma). My son did get an IEP for his speech delay, fell just short of the requirement for specific learning disability, and I was told that the doctor would have to verify that his learning is affected by his allergies/asthma. Since the doctor does not know if his allergies are affecting his learning and was not willing to "go to bat" for me, the school told me that he does not meet the requirements.
I am not finished nor have I given up on it, yet. I was burnt out last spring. Enought IEP and allergy meetings to turn anyone into a zombie. I feel like I have a renewed sense of energy to get his allergy/asthma added as OHI.
I will certainly follow this thread closly and pull up the old threads on topic.

Posted on: Fri, 08/17/2007 - 2:18pm
Peanut Militia's picture
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Joined: 03/06/2007 - 09:00

When we got our IEP we showed not only the obvious "while in ana, or on drugs" we showed her learning was affected by the psychological side of PA. The isolation (lunchroom...), attitude of teachers (either hostile or just scared to have a kid with an EPI), play on their ability to learn and the teachers ability to teach. I got the idea reading about kids with MFA who develope eating disorders and social disorders. We also showed she could not participate in all activities due to her 'condition' and that affected learning. It helped (if that is the right word) that she missed multiple days from reactions. So far I think it has helped our case to have the IEP.

Posted on: Fri, 08/17/2007 - 2:50pm
Corvallis Mom's picture
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Joined: 05/22/2001 - 09:00

Quote:
Because I'm seeing a correlation in my own mind about something, and I'd like clarity CM.... would something like the effects of LTFA's on learning be able to be assessed if there was a request for the district to do a psychological observation of a LTFA child during a class party (where it was possible that the exclusion of the child might take place, the introduction of unsafe food products might take place, and the child might exhibet the effects of such action during and after the party)?
Would it be, or rather should it be, part and parcel of our approach to request that the district add their psychologist to the team of "Knowledgeable Individuals"?
Hmmmm. Yes, I see what you mean. I think that a careful observation [i]should[/i] be able to discern such effects. I know I've seen it in my child.
Just the same, I'd be [i]extremely cautious[/i] in opening up that particular can of worms with the SD. YK? Particularly if I'm dealing with a district's own hired gun. Let's not give my child any dysfunctionality she doesn't already have..... Her wariness about food isn't some kind of anxiety disorder, after all. She [i]has[/i] to eat, and food can kill her. Duh.
But I've run across a number of therapists who didn't seem to understand this point.
And if they don't-- honestly? I'm not sure [i]what[/i] they would see. Or be looking for.
Me, I look for ways that my child's 'affect' is flattened or that she seems withdrawn. That's because I [i]know her well.[/i] I can see it as behavioral cues, with observation alone. But I know her normal behavior much better than a casual observer, even a trained one.
Might be worth discussing with a therapist with experience in peds and families, though-- find out whether that is possible from someone who doesn't know your child well.
I could be wrong, but I think this is a reason why IEP evaluation teams often have a person with a psych background on them. Isn't it usually part and parcel of such evaluations? It isn't for 504, of course. But for OHI?

Posted on: Fri, 08/17/2007 - 3:38pm
Nutternomore's picture
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Joined: 08/02/2002 - 09:00

Yep, this is a much riskier card to play, IMO. Obviously, there are a few folks (MB, PM) who have successfully obtained an IEP using OHI designation.
Keeping the issue of a child needing an IEP for non-food allergic reasons to the side (that has been discussed in other threads), and without debating the merits of making the IEP w/OHI request on its own, my observations are:
1) I frequent a couple of food allergy communities. I can count on one hand the # of folks who have shared that they have successfully obtained an IEP under OHI for food allergies. In gvmom's thread on safe treats, I pointed out that 504's for food allergies are relatively novel idea in the history of the educational system, although they are being seen/requested with increased frequency in the last few years. I am of the belief that the consideration for use of IEP under OHI for food allergies is even more novel (perhaps bleeding edge).
2) Consequently, the small number of cases, administrative rulings, and OCR involvement reside in the 504 arena. I am not aware of any cases, rulings, OCR letters which explicitly discuss food allergies under IEP w/OHI.
So, from a purely pragmatic point of view, I continue to believe that for most, the path of least resistance is going to be going the 504 route. In this manner, the question of learning being affected can be side-stepped; one can make a direct linkage pretty easily between documented anaphylaxis and affecting the major life systems of breathing and caring for oneself. However, this does need to be examined case-by-case. If the specifics of the situation (e.g. need for IEP due to other needs, signals from the school that they are more inclined to want to go in the IEP direction, etc.), then one might want to consider the IEP option in favor of the 504 route. Other threads have discussed using IEP for some disabilities, and 504 for the food allergy component - I won't repeat the discussion here.
Regardless of 504 vs. IEP, I do recall that some parents (Gail W comes to mind) have indicated that a staff psychologist has been a member of their 504 team, and it has often been helpful to their cause...

Posted on: Fri, 08/17/2007 - 4:21pm
Peanut Militia's picture
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Joined: 03/06/2007 - 09:00

We used our own psychologist--someone we felt we could trust. We did this for a couple of reasons
1) We wanted someone who was familure with food disorders.
2) If it is our information, we control it. I am not afraid of the truth--I am afraid of their 'perspective.'
I also feel this question is at the heart of 504 vs IEP. If the school only needs to make accomidations then 504. If learning is affected then IEP.
I have been trying to figure out ways to keep PA from affecting learning. Keep the stress away from DD, give her more opportunities... Any ideas?

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