going to kindergarten next september

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anyone have any advise for me my son has a severe allergy to nuts, eggs, and cataloupes... and he's going to kindergarten next september.. anything besides telling and providing an epi-pen to the nurse??

On Jan 8, 2009

My son went to kindergarten this past september. I know the fear you have. The best advice I can give is to inform as many people as possible. I spoke to the principal and arranged for my son's epipen to be kept in the classroom, as well as an additonal pen in the nurse office. Also, I spoke to the teacher prior to the school year starting. I supplied her with a list of "safe" snacks to give out to parents. I also asked her to include a memo in her "welcome" pack about the severity of my son's allergies. I also gave her some books to read to the students so they would be aware of my son's allergy. The biggest thing was also I provided her with a box of "safe" treats to keep in the class for my son. He is never to eat anything that does not come from home. That is to be made clear to your child and the teacher. This way, if there is a party or treats being handed out, your child will not be left out and always be safe. I also send in snack with my son. The other big thing was to get a plan in place for the cafeteria before the start of school. There is a separate table that has a sign "PEANUT/NUT FREE ZONE" the cafeteria staff knows of my son and his allergy and make sure you speak with the nurse and the proper instruction of signs and symptoms and administration of the epi pen is shown. It seems like a lot, but you know what, if you find the right school that is willing to help your child will be safe. My son goes to a charter school instead of a regular public school and it has been such a blessing. Just pray also for your child and the people around him to be aware and trust. I know how you feel. I know this is long, but I hope it is helpful.

By jaxmom on Jan 8, 2009

I came across this on a website (allergysf.com) and thought it may be helpful to you as well. I wish you the best of luck.

Keeping Your Child Safe at School Here are your The “Ten Commandments” for keeping your child safe at elementary school.

This list was compiled by our Special North Bay/Marin Correspondent, Tammy Lee-Sullivan (please read Tammy’s story below.)

#1 Identify the Child

Make sure ALL faculty knows the child by name, by face and by allergy. If there is an anaphylactic reaction there is no time for an unfamiliar person to try and figure out who the child is or what their condition is. Even if they have an allergy alert bracelet on it can be hard to read. Each individual that has regular contact with you child should know the child personally, not just by a school memo. This will enable them to be prepared to request assistance in a timely manner and be specific on what they need.

#2 Identify Faculty

Who monitors lunch? Are they considered trained staff or just volunteers? An epi pen should be located somewhere near the lunch area in an unlocked easy to locate spot. Are the lunch monitors trained with the epi pen and know the location?

#3 Have a substitute teacher plan

In our class room we made a binder that the ANY substitute teacher reads when they come to the class. It was initially for an intro to the class and the class day plan. In the front of the binder we placed an allergy info sheet introducing the children with full name and a picture of the child. It also specifies locations of the epi pens in the classroom and in main office. We also included a very simple 1 page instruction sheet with pictures on how to use the epi pen if needed.

#4 What is the emergency plan?

Ask questions and double check. Specifically what is the plan? Who calls 911? Who gives care and who gets the pen from the nurse cabinet? Whoever is assigned to call 911 needs to be sure to tell them that it is an anaphylactic emergency so EMS can have their equipment ready on arrival. Also remember to tell everyone that anytime a reaction happens you have to call 911 and that the child should be monitored for at least 8 hours even if they didn’t receive the epi pen. Make sure you include benedryl with the emergency treatment along with the epi pen.

#5 The Epi Pen

Who at the school is trained? Who wants to be trained? (Other parents, volunteers, etc.) Where are the pens located? There should be one in the classroom, one in the office and if the lunch area is not located close to these two places one needs to be located near the area the children will come in contact with food. There is a simple training video on epipen.com that anybody can access!

Let everyone know that epi is a one shot deal

This means that once the pen is pressed against the leg that it is auto-injected. If the child kicks or moves and the pen come out of the skin the medicine continues to spurt out emptying the pen. It is best to restrain the child any way possible for the 10 seconds it will take to inject. This is why it is imperative to have more than one epi pen on site! Epi pens only last about 15 minutes.

Also let people know that the epi pen won’t hurt the child if they didn’t need it.

I personally teach anyone & everyone who is willing to learn how to use an epi pen. You don’t have to be faculty to save some ones life. In our classroom we now have the epi pens located in the classroom clearly labeled in a container on the wall. At our school we treat the epi kits just like a first aid kit or fire extinguisher. The kit contains each Childs epi kit in the classroom containing their picture on the bag, the epi pens and benedryl with written instructions (brief but specific).

Make sure that the epi pens in the nurse’s office are organized. Not piled on top of each other making it hard to locate whose pen is whose. Put all children’s epi pen in some kind of bag. Then in large writing clearly label it with the child’s picture and your child’s name.

If the pen has to be lock up for any reason (the classroom will have to be locked when students are not in class) who has the key. Is the key CLEARLY marked and not on an entire ring of keys making it difficult for a parent or substitute to locate?

#6 Food

Do not let you child eat anything that you have not checked yourself. Even if it is something like popcorn, it can still be contaminated with nuts. Have safe snacks available all the time and let the child and anyone else that will be in the classroom know that they should only eat those items ALWAYS. Also let everyone know the location of the snacks. Lots of parents want to help and bring in stuff that don’t obviously have peanuts in them but do have hidden allergens that can cause a reaction.

#7 Field Trips

Someone should be carrying a backpack that will be with the children all day with all first aid and epi equipment in it. Double-check this every single field trip. If it is a field trip with animals (farm) is there nuts in the feed? Who will monitor the lunches? Will they be purchasing food there? Call ahead and make sure there is safe options and what those are.

#8 Communications

Ask other parents for their help keeping your child safe.

Have all signs and notices go out in Spanish and English or any other language the class families may speak at home. This will eliminate confusion. We put up signs with nuts and a large red circle with a slash through it so that all languages could understand.

Empower your child. Educate your child on what the safe snacks are AND what the unsafe snacks look like.

#9 Double-check everything…yourself.

There is no room for miscommunications with a life-threatening allergy. Check everything, all the time. It’s easy to overlook untrained staff, well-intended parents, and other children. Ask the child’s teachers (all of them) if they are aware of the allergy. Don’t worry about hurting anybody’s feelings or making waves. You have to double-check everyone and everything. This is your child’s life. School staff is very busy and things get missed. It is up to you to help fix them.

#10 Give Yourself a Standing Ovation!

Staying on top of all these commendments makes you a Superstar for keeping kids safe.

About Tammy Lee-Sullivan

My name is Tammy Lee-Sullivan and I tam he mom of a severely allergic child.

My family’s life changed dramatically when we discovered our son’s peanut allergy. He has allergic reactions simply by being touched by anyone with peanut protein on their hands. This year my husband and I have drummed up enough courage to allow him to attend kindergarten. It has been a great learning experience both for our school and our family and we have worked closely together to make the school grounds safe for any child with an allergy.

We have put into place these 10 simple procedures and safety precautions that can save a child’s life in an anaphylactic emergency. My goal is to share my experiences and help do whatever I can to help educate parents, schools and the community about how very dangerous allergies can be and to share the steps that we have discovered to help protect kids.

I believe that all kids should have the opportunity to have an education and that they should be able to do so in a safe environment. I also want to help support families in making the major life adjustments that are needed to keep their children safe and help provide any resources I can to make that happen.

In my pre-mommy life my education was in the fire/medical field. I have worked in both emergency and non-emergency jobs including a Firefighter/EMT for the California Department of Forestry and Combat Medic in US Army Reserves. My current occupation is, “Mommy” which has been a 24/7 job of keeping Xavier safe in our everyday lives which is quite a challenge be it at school, at a ball game, a fair or wherever it may be. It is an experience we deal with everyday and still continue to learn about so I hope that what I have learned can also help you and your family!

By Sarahb on Jan 25, 2009

Hi. The best advice I can give you is to get a 504 plan - don't wait until things go wrong - your child if they have LTFA has rights and the school has responsibilities.

A great place to start for information is

http://www.foodallergysupport.com

go to the Schools Forum - there is a resource page with links

my son started K this last September and I got the 504 and I think that because of it the school personel are taking this way more seriously than they would have - and we have had a lot of cooperation

good luck to you

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