I just have to vent.
My girls, ages 10 and 13, both attend middle school. They are allergic to peanuts but fortunately it is only if they ingest them. They feel sick if they smell peanuts, but do not have airborn or contact allergies, thankfully. The peanuts make them throw up. Neither has ever had an anaphalyactic reaction. They have both undergone professional allergy testing.
The principal of the school knows that they are allergic to peanuts and that they carry epi-pens.
Last year, the hot lunch program at the school began giving out packages of pretzels that had peanut butter on them. I raised a stink and the principal promised up and down and sideways that the school would never serve anything like that again. I just don't want my girls needlessly exposed to the peanut butter -- all those kids walking around with peanut residue on their hands, yikes!
Last month, younger daughter's class was reading the book "Because of Winn Dixie" and apparently in the book, they have a party where they eat peanut butter sandwiches. So the teacher decided to have a party when the class finished the book and guess what she told the students to bring in? You guessed it.
I raised **** when I found out about this -- I was told about it only one day before the event, so I couldn't stop it. The teacher wound up moving the peanut butter sandwiches to an adjacent classroom (so no peanut butter would get on my daughter's desk) and my she did NOT participate in the "festivities." She was upset and angry at her teacher for being insensitive, and I don't blame her.
What do I have to do to make the people in this school understand that this is not acceptable and that it puts my kids at risk? I walk the line between protecting my kids and seeming like an overprotective, over-reacting jerk, and I HATE IT!
I do not try to stop other kids from bringing peanut products to school -- I don't think it is necessary to go to that level of reaction. My kids know how to avoid situations that put them at risk. But I expect that any SCHOOL SPONSORED event or snack will NOT contain peanuts.
I requested an education packet from FAAN, but I don't think they ever sent it to the principal (or else she is lying when she says she never received it).
Have any of you run into this sort of thing with your kids' schools? I would love to get some feedback.
On Nov 27, 2006
thankfully, i know neither of my two PA daughters' teachers would have any party related to peanuts or peanut butter. yikes! i guess i'm lucky. this makes me more thankful for our teachers and our school. sorry your kiddo had to go through such a lousy experience.
On Nov 27, 2006
HI SFMom & welcome. You will get some replies here, I'm sure. But I wanted to direct you to the "Schools" section, in particular a thread about 504 accomodation for PA kids in school:
Lots of great info there and in other related threads about 504s in the "Schools" section, to name a few.
Read - read - read! You will be empowered to approach your school administration and children's teachers as to handling their PA needs.
Hope this helps! ~Elizabeth
On Nov 27, 2006
Kids bringing in Pb sandwiches for Winn Dixie? UGH- I would have been livid! This activity should have never taken place and your dd should never have to feel like that! We have also had a few instances w/ the school and the best advice I can offer is to go to the schools thread and research your options. It has been an invaluable tool to me. Good luck!
On Nov 27, 2006
I know a little bit about ADA/504, but not all the details. The FAAN clued me in a bit about this and my legal rights, thankfully, a couple of years ago.
One problem is my DH. He doesn't want me to raise any more of a stink "than I have to". He doesn't want my kids "singled out" or made to feel any different than they already do. Mainly, this is because they only have "ingestion allergies" and not "contact or airborn allergies." I think if they had those, he would change his tune.
However, our allergist made it clear that these things can change and get worse, and even if a person has never had an anaphylactic reaction, it could happen with time and exposure. It is the "what if" that drives me nuts. I try not to think about it too much because it makes me so scared.
My DH is in a state of semi-denial about this and whenever the subject comes up we fight about it. "Don't embarrass your daughters" he says. "Don't turn them into total hypochondriacs" he says. I have tried to get him to read the Peanut Allergy Handbook, but he has passive-aggressively avoided it for years.
Some background: My DH has never been tested for food allergies, but he has a viceral aversion to nuts, especially peanuts. He threw up a lot as a kid for no apparent reason (my kids throw up if they have peanuts or green peas). He can eat peanuts and green peas although he doesn't like them, and he has no reaction. He HATES the smell of peanut butter. If he did have the allergy as a child, he outgrew it. I think that he assumes the same will happen to our daughters. But there are no guarantees. I think he's fooling himself.
I don't know if any other kids in the school are allergic to peanuts. I haven't heard about it.
After that "Winn Dixie" incident, I emailed each of my girls' teachers and explained about their allergies and avoiding needless exposure. The principal had promised me last year that she would inform the staff, but she did squat for me -- my girls' teachers had NO IDEA that they had PA students in their classrooms. I was so pissed off at this stupid principal.
I have decided from now on, I will email their new teachers at the start of every school year as a precaution. I personally think this principal is a total flake.
So bottom line is: I'm not sure if I should try to get a 504 program done at the school (or in the district) because so far we have been managing it very well except for these stupid recent events at the middle school. My kids, so far, would only have a reaction if they actually ATE the peanuts.
My husband is against me doing anything that would stir things up. And I'm just confused. I already have a reputation at the school (and among other parents) for being a hothead and "over-reactor", and that would only make it worse.
Am I a hothead? Sometimes I do get very angry, but usually it's only when people don't see my point of view.
Here's what I am: a loving parent, scared to death for the safety of her daughters in this very big world -- which is increasingly becoming filled with products made with peanuts and soy protein.
On Nov 27, 2006
Originally posted by SFMom: [b]Am I a hothead? Sometimes I do get very angry, but usually it's only when people don't see my point of view.
Here's what I am: a loving parent, scared to death for the safety of her daughters in this very big world -- which is increasingly becoming filled with products made with peanuts and soy protein.[/b]
WE do what we feel is necessary. Go with your gut. I personally plan on talking to DD's teacher(s) forever and don't give a rat's a** what anybody thinks (husbands included) To me, if my child is in somebody else's care, they better darn well know how to take care of her. Oh ya, I must be a hot head too.
On Nov 27, 2006
Kids know they are different. That's not a bad thing. I want my son to know he is different when it comes to food - it is what will keep him alive in the long haul.
Thankfully I have a husband who is very supportive, almost too much as he would prefer if I would homeschool our son when he becomes of age. He is just afraid of the "what if" factor right now. I know though that you will find support of many mom's on this site whose husbands have played ostrich. Hang in there!
------------------ Mommy to Aiden (1/26/05) PA,wheat,barley,soy,egg and others yet to be discovered and Connor (7/21/06) with possible egg allergy
On Nov 28, 2006
Your husband has a different frame of mind if he says he doesn't want to "embarrass" your daughters. Not wrong, but different.
Perhaps he could think of it this way--a good 504 *EMPOWERS* your daughters. The purpose of the 504 is not to raise a stink, but to provide a good, solid management plan in school. At their ages, they can give direct input for creating a 504 tailored to their health and social needs.
[This message has been edited by ryan's mom (edited November 28, 2006).]
On Nov 28, 2006
I would issue a letter to the teachers and principal with your expecatations outlined very clearly. 504 process takes awhile and you need something official in writing now.
Also, you do need to meet with the teachers and nurse at the beginning of each school year. And issue a new Food Allergy Action Plan (from FAAN) with your drs signatures each year. Make sure the nurse AND the teachers get a copy. Also cafeteria helpers should be informed. If your daughter has a severe reaction and passes out, you want to be sure people can help her -- immediately.
Do her friends know? At this age, I think her friends could be helpful too. Also consider a Medic Alert Bracelet.
Good luck! And there is much more info on the Schools board. Everyone there will say "Get a 504!" but many others of us aren't there yet and are working positively with the schools (I'd prefer a 504 too, but I think it comes with some other costs)...it does sound like you need to rectify a couple issues quickly.
On Nov 28, 2006
Boy, we seem to have a lot in common! I actually came back to this board after many years away to get input on just this issue. My son had a two-day (overnight) outdoor ed class and the school didn't want to make any special accommodations for him. He is 11 - just started jr. high, and we're still not sure how we want to handle the 504 plan vs. just dealing with each issue as it arises.
In this particular case, we made a big enough deal about it (and "threatened" a 504) that they finally sent my husband along on the trip. It was a good thing, because one of the tacos they were going to give my child contained soy flour. That would have been an instant hospital trip.
Our principal was very upset when I mentioned a 504 and said "why in the world would you want to do that? Food allergies don't qualify." We concluded that this must mean a lot of extra paperwork for them, so there's a motivation for them to downplay things. The sad thing is that she has a food allergy herself to kiwi, so it's baffling to me as to why she's so unsupportive.
Now that the trip is over, the teacher in charge of outdoor ed has been consistently picking on my son. He uses him in class as an example for how not to do things, and has refused to let him make up the work for a day he was out sick, resulting in a zero grade and a "C" overall for the class. If he gets a "C" for the semester, he has to repeat the class. My son is mortified that we'd embarrass him by interfering, so we've been letting it go for now to see how things will work out. Ironically, the class is called "Life Skills." I've been joking with my son that he's learning more about how the world works in that class from the teacher than from the material. Some people are just jerks about food allergies, and you can't change the world.
I don't know how to advise you because I don't know what we're going to do ourselves. It's really a tough spot! Junior high is when they start to separate and you do want them to be able to deal with situations on their own. On the other hand, they have to be safe. I guess you just have to go with your gut.
My husband is less hyper about things than I am, but I see that as a good thing. He has asthma back in the 50's when they really didn't have any effective treatment, so he remembers being driven around in the car with his head hanging out the window. He says that experience helps him not to overreact when my son has a problem. I think it's good to have parents with two different approaches, even if it causes conflict. That way, there's always discussion about risk vs. lifestyle. My husband pushes me to do things (like our 5 day trip to Jamaica) that otherwise I wouldn't do, and I know that's good for my son.
Hang in there - you'll find the right solution. You don't have to make all the decisions right now.
On Nov 28, 2006
OMG, I can't believe that they did that to you for the Outdoor Ed thing. What about the school board? Have you gone over the principal's head? And that teacher -- maybe you should have a conference, despite what your son says. Sheesh, I would. My daughter had an a-hole for a teacher in 5th grade and because I was new to middle school I let things slide. But I wouldn't do that again if I were in the same situation.
My older daugther had outdoor ed in 5th grade. But the place where they went -- FOR A WEEK -- worked closely with me to ensure that the foods were safe. They even faxed their menus to me and checked all of their ingredients for soy and nuts. It is a YMCA camp that is used for outdoor ed in times other than the summer. I also sent a bunch of food up with her (bread, pancake mix, chicken nuggets -- stuff that is impossible to find without soy flour unless you know where to look).
I'm happy to say that the week was successful and now I must repeat it with my younger daughter, who will go in a few months. My older daughter has some other sort of 7th grade outdoor ed thing in the Spring as well to a different place -- here we go again with a brand new place -- I don't know if they will be able to accomodate her, but when the time comes I will look into it.
When people roll their eyes because I am being so diligent towards my kids' health, I feel like shaking them at the shoulders and yelling "WALK A WEEK IN MY SHOES, LADY!!!"
On Nov 28, 2006
This happened to us last year when my DD was in fifth grade. The assignment was for the kids to write about something they are good at making really well, and bring in a sample. My DD told me the teacher gave an example to some kids who couldn't think of anything to "describe how to make a PBJ sandwich and bring it in". (Her teacher last year took a non-chalant approach about her PA.) I was livid! I emailed her and told her "how dangerous that would be in the classroom with my DD in it. If she could possibly think of something else for these kids to make. If she couldn't, then to let me know and I would not be sending my DD to school that day."
She apologized (I'm sure she was cursing me between the lines) and said that she would think of something else. I didn't trust her response so I told my DD if she saw even a speck of PB she was to leave the room and go to the nurse (her safe haven!) I asked my DD if those kids brought in PB and she said "no".
This year in middle school is a whole other story. (see related thread in "Schools" if interested). I think the middle school is a lot harder to control than the elementary school was. Too many people to deal with no matter how many times I email her teachers and alert them. Boy, do I have stories to tell, and its only November!
On Nov 30, 2006
SFMom, Just to let you know, I have a 504 for my child and it is not being followed. It doesn't always work although it is a legal document. I'm still working to get ours followed and it has been difficult to get the administrators to honor it. Some people just don't seem to understand the severity of pa.
I totally understand your frustration with the situation and I can relate to it, and wonder why anyone at a school would do what was done in your children's case. The light bulb doesn't always seem to be connected. It is very insensitive to say the least and I hope you use all of the experiences posted to help make a decision that is best for you and your children. Good Luck!