peanut free tables- are they really necessary??

Posted on: Sat, 03/08/2008 - 4:21am
nutty1's picture
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My son was diagnosed with PA about 4 weeks ago. I have almost finished reading the book "The Peanut Allergy Answer Book" which has been a great source of info for me. I am a little confused on a few things though and am hoping someone can clarify for me. If my son were in gradeschool, and sat next to a kid eating pb&j, will he or could he really react to this? At first I thought peanut free tables sounded like a great idea. Now, after further reading and realizing the potential for my child to be isolated, maybe even made fun of for having to eat at a peanut free table, I'm questioning if sitting at a peanut free table is even necessary. I work in the mental health field, and the thought of my child being made fun of or being segregated due to his allergy is difficult for me. Of course I want him to be safe. But, could he not just sit with everyone else, and if someone eats a pb&j and it bothers him he could just move. I read that having anaphylaxis from just sitting near someone is very unlikely, if not impossible. I want my child to be safe, but I don't want to go overboard and have him feel isolated in the lunchroom unless it is absolutely necessary. Feedback??

Posted on: Sat, 03/08/2008 - 7:32am
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nutty1,
Welcome to our world. You are doing the right thing by reading and becoming more educated. That being said, everyone has different "comfort zones" about this subject. My daughter is contact allergic as well and did have an anyphylaxis after touching a cup with PB residue on it. There is not a peanut free table in her school, but the school does not serve PB. She eats on a placemat next to the teacher and the tables are washed with bleach before she arrives. If anyone in the class brings in PB ( and they have been asked not to) then that child sits at the end of the table far away from my child. We have been doing this for 4 years and it has worked well so far.

Posted on: Sat, 03/08/2008 - 2:38pm
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well...we have tried it both ways. From grades K-2 my dd sat in the same reserved spot each day at the lunch table, at the end so that there would only be one person next to her and that person could not have pb in their lunch. Then in the middle of 2nd grade we changed it bc dd was often sitting alone in her spot while the other kids grouped together at lunch. It has been over a year now and she is much happier being able to sit where she chooses. We send wipes (wet wipes singles) along in her lunchbag and she wipes her hands b4 she eats and sometimes she will ask the other kids to wipe their hands after they eat if they have pb. The kids never seem to mind. I do worry about a contact reaction, but she is older now and is able to alert the staff if she is having trouble or get up and move if need be.
I don't think I would have ok'd it when she was in K or even 1st grade though. The littler kids are way too messy and can't keep their hands to themselves! At least at my dd's school that was the case! Hope that helps you.

Posted on: Mon, 03/10/2008 - 9:12am
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Many people with PA allergies are not allergic to scent, a few are allergic to the touch (The oils at least). At a young age (kindergarten, pre-school) it's not a bad idea, but keep in mind thats also a key developmental stage for children who may need that social interaction at a meal time with classmates.
Grade 1 and forth I think is not a good idea, I had been through it myself until grade 7 when I decided to go home for lunch. Basically, when isolate the child he/she is not the only one that knows. Other kids will pick up on the isolation and use that as a catalyst for further bullying if they wish. Isolating them, while yes does give a degree of safety also compromises their social integrity. Also, keep in mind in High School they won't get special treatment (Not in Canada at least, which is reasonable). An elementary school has less then a thousand children, where as a High School may have thousands. It's key to instill in your children and others in the school (VERY KEY) that their condition is an especially dangerous one and that under no circumstances should they eat, go near or lick their hands (Yeah, I don't know who does that...) after touching or being near peanut butter or nuts.
I think a little isolation is okay, but a lot of parents take it much to far and smother their kids. I made it clear to my parents at a younger age that I didn't care to be smothered or be isolated and they thankfully listened to me, I haven't had a reaction yet and am very wise to what I do when I go out.
I am 18, have lived with severe PA my entire life. I can safely speak for a lot of children and young adolescents with the allergy that isolation isn't a great idea. Which brings me to this topic...
Peanut Free tables (As I mentioned earlier elsewhere) are basically a Direct Solution, what this means is that it's a solution that works in the short term and will not effective later on and can roll consequences. But none the less, it is effective.
Now, my drift here is basically you are holding the problem off. Sweeping it under a rug and letting it stay there until that solution no longer works. Which leads me to the sister term which is,
Social Solution. A social solution takes longer to attain but is MUCH more effective in the long run and can be kept in long term as well. A social solution to Peanut Allergy's would be to educate people. Not just teachers and staff members of schools, but children and their parents. Your entire community, make it one bigger and educate your Senator. Might take a while, but will make a HUUUGE difference if you keep pressing (Judging by the number of people on this board, it would make a damn convincing argument to the Government and Schools as well.)
I can't tell you how to approach the situation exactly since it is not my child, therefore not my decision. But you are on the right path I believe and you are thinking about how your child would feel. I think that educating your child and the staff/other parents is the foremost important thing to do. Why not consider having a meeting in the school with the parents and staff about your concerns and see what you can do?

Posted on: Mon, 03/10/2008 - 12:57pm
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Thank you all for your input. OriJuice, I especially appreciated yours. I like hearing from people who are living with this who did not take things to the extreme and it has worked out ok. Sometimes when I read these posts it depresses me because I read these stories about people getting monitors to be with their kids all day school, and parents who quit their jobs because they are afraid to let their kids go to daycare,and I think damn, is this how having a PA child is going to be? I think I am a good mom, and I want to shield my son from harm, but I want to do it in the least restrictive way possible and I want him to live as normal a life as possible, I don't want him to be some anxiety ridden, isolated child because of this allergy. So, thank you, its nice to hear that you can have PA and sit with the other kids at school in the lunchroom and just be smart about it, which it sounds like you are and have been.

Posted on: Mon, 03/10/2008 - 2:16pm
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nutty1, I also wanted to add that I do not let my dd live in a bubble. She does almost everything that everyone else does. When she was younger she ate in a separate room, but now age 9 she eats in the classroom with everyone else and she feels much better.
If her school wasn't peanut safe I would feel very different though. Her school doesn't allow pn. or may contain etc. My dd is also not contact sensitive. I think everyone bases their actions on prior history. Therefore, some who do more are doing so for good reason and not because they are over the top. That's just my opinion and what has worked for us.

Posted on: Mon, 03/10/2008 - 5:24pm
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No problem, it's all a matter of education. Kids are not as helpless as some people are lead to believe. They don't need to be watched like a hawk 24/7, but they do need to be educated about it.

Posted on: Tue, 03/11/2008 - 10:30pm
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My guess is that you've not met someone highly contact sensitive or airborne reactive. These kids do need to be [i]watched like a hawk.[/i]
Each child should be afforded the level of protection from his allergen to the degree his allergy requires. Young PA children in fact [i]are[/i] helpless with out constant supervision; incapable of assessing the safety of situation, monitoring symptoms, let alone self-treating. Throw an extraordinary pn sensitivity into the mix and you have a situation in need very thoughtful accomodation and quite possibly the very things which may seem 'extreme' to you.
Sensitivity to allergens is a continuum, some children are in need of measures that others are not....let's not point the finger and tell another allergy mom or dad that they are 'extreme' or overreactive for providing such measures for their child. We of all people should understand and support one another.

Posted on: Thu, 03/13/2008 - 11:53am
mpeters's picture
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I agree that each child must be provided the environment that suits his or her needs. I have two PA children in the same school. My daughter is severe with known anaphylaxis, and is extremely contact sensitive. She sits at a peanut free table and even avoids the cafeteria completely if there is a high percentage of peanut (such as a peanut butter cookie being served on every tray) My son is mild, no history of contact reaction. He sits at a regular table, often next to kids eating peanut butter. They are both fine and happy. And I have noticed that my daughter is usually surrounded by kids at her table. I have never seen her sitting alone.
If your son is young, hopefully you will have a better sense of what he needs as gradeschool approaches. If he does end up needing the peanut free table I advise you to make an appointment for a solution planning meeting with the school principal before school begins. It will help if everyone is on the same page as far as understanding the needs, rather than feeling they are just satisfying the desires of a demanding parent.

Posted on: Fri, 03/14/2008 - 11:41am
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A big part in why I made this far without having reactions is because I was aware of myself and my parents made other people aware. And yes I have met someone who is contact sensitive, I am a little bit myself as well. I do agree that the level of the allergen should determine the level of safety. But I think sometimes people cross the line, regardless.
I was never helpless as a child, and I would never like to think of myself as such. I think that is pretty baseless, I was never under constant supervision, fortunately I was smart enough to watch what I did and be careful and make sure I had an epipen. As you said, some children are in need of measures and some are not. I partially agree with the contact allergies because it can be very serious, but I do not at all agree on peanut free tables and isolating a child if what they have is the conventional PA allergy akin to mine. Other solutions need to be found, instead of scapegoating the problem off until later.
As I may or may not have said earlier, when a child gets into High School, they are on their own. The staff cannot monitor a child in a school of over 1000 students. It's better to prepare them early then scapegoat the problem until their in High School and create headaches for yourself and the child. I am not looking so much at the present, as much as I am looking at the future. Because regardless they will have the PA allergy and need to live with it, the first years in school is completely up to the parent on how to approach it.

Posted on: Sun, 03/16/2008 - 1:18pm
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[b]A big part in why I made this far without having reactions is because I was aware of myself and my parents made other people aware.[/b]
What did your parents do? Did they only say 'Kyle has peanut allergy." And nothing more?
Or in the next breath did they go on to tell them/teacher/admin. that you should not [i]eat[/i] PB? Did they also tell them that you should not [i]touch[/i] PB?
By doing even as little as that, a child is most certainly not alone in regards to handling PA at school. These are accomodation statements, [i]actions[/i] taken. Why on earth do we make people aware about a child's PA if we don't require them to do [i]something[/i] to protect them. The awareness goes hand in hand with accomodation. And you have made it this far, because of these things. Someone told someone about your PA, and you were accomodated in some way. But I keep sensing that you want to believe you survived even at age 3, 4 or 5 only by your own means. I have a feeling you were cared for more than you want to believe. But hey, that's just me.
FYI, up to 20% of children outgrow PA, I believe.

Posted on: Sun, 03/16/2008 - 1:31pm
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[b]instead of scapegoating the problem off until later.[/b]
Scapegoat is holding a person or people, or thing responsible for a problem. Someone selected to bear blame for something.
Using the term 'scapegoating the problem', isn't a correct usage. You are saying 'blaming a person or group of people until a later time'. Rather, try 'bandaid solution' or 'putting off the problem'.
Ok...lesson done :)

Posted on: Sun, 03/16/2008 - 8:06pm
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uk point of view here,
my son is now in his first term of senior school, so my post below is based on infant and primary age. 4 1/2- 11yrs.
In the uk peanut butter is not something that every child brings, but lots do.
my son is also allergic to many other foods that people bring in a packed lunch, or is cooked in school.
My son has never sat away from the children, or sat at a different table.
He never had a reaction from the lunch hall in all his years there.
He had been trained to refuse food that anyone other than me had given him. ( naturally, we all do this)
The staff had a picture of him in the kitchen , and details of his allergies, the same in the staff room and office.
My son was pointed out as someone to observe.
However he DID have a reaction during his first term at school, which was not related to the lunch hall.
which concluded;
That the most dangerous time in the school was during break times.
Children take a snack out of their lunch boxes to eat , during play outside.
Afternoon break was fresh fruit eaten outside.
Lunch halls are more formal, children sit down at tables and eat and are visable, children eating , running around outside, are not.
I was happy with our schools solution to reduce the risk by asking parents not to bring packed lunch foods containing nuts in to school.
As part of their healthy eating plan they asked for no chocolate as well, but I think THATS wrong!!
I am not comfortable with the peanut free tables, exclusion is not something that sits comfortably with me.
I had a hard enough job with the cookery lessons, and craft lessons in the early days, so I was happy with how we got a normal part of the day for my lad.
in our early years our son had, egg /peanut/treenut/all beans/kiwi fruit allergies, and all environmental allergies.
Currently at 12 , now no longer egg allergic, allergic to only one tree nut, is peanut/all beans/yeast extract/kiwi fruit/ dog/cat/dustmite /tree pollen allergic. ( dog being a severe allergy along with the food, which brings on different set of problems)
As for senior school, so far brings his own lunch, when we decided to go for one school meal a week , I plan to visit the lunch hall first .
My son will then decide how he would like to procede.
This will start in september this year, in the build up to expanding his confidance about new foods that mummy has not prepared.
He is due also to spend a week with his school year in france next summer.
So all confidance skills etc are building up to that week!
The most dangerous time for an allergic child in senior school , is PE lessons.
This is when a reaction may occur when staff dont expect it, and reactions will be swift due to exercise.
To combat this area,
son wears medic alert.
His school bag is easily identifiable.
BTW son has mobile phone, as well as meds with him at all times.
school staff have a set of meds in nurse office.
Sport outside means meds on side of pitch with coach, and drink, kept away from others.
Never gets in car that has had a dog in it. So no sharing lifts with dog loving friends before you start running around!!!
just my experience.

Posted on: Mon, 03/17/2008 - 4:58am
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I have heard a lot of people talking about PA and being "contact sensitive". I have no idea if my son is contact sensitive, is this just something that I'll figure out in time?? What does being 'contact sensitive' mean exactly? I assume it means that he would react if he sits near someone eating peanuts?

Posted on: Mon, 03/17/2008 - 5:08am
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Being contact sensitive means you will have a reaction (to any varying degree) when you physically come into contact with the allergen. A smear of pb on a table, residue on the playground or computer, contact other than ingestion. Could be hives on a cheek when someone who's eaten pb kisses you. Could be hives on the backs of your legs from sitting with shorts on at the movie theater, in a chair that has pb residue on it.
Not everyone has contact sesitivites and some experience worse contact reactions than others.
And then there are airborne sensitivites, reactions from inhaled allergen proteins. I guess this is 'contact' if you will, but I think most people separate contact and airborne.

Posted on: Mon, 03/17/2008 - 5:11am
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Originally Posted By: nutty1 I have heard a lot of people talking about PA and being "contact sensitive". I have no idea if my son is contact sensitive, is this just something that I'll figure out in time?? What does being 'contact sensitive' mean exactly? I assume it means that he would react if he sits near someone eating peanuts?
When visiting a litter of puppies (we were looking to buy a new puppy), the puppies brushed up against my son's legs. He spent less than 2 minutes with the puppies as he was young and actually a little afraid of them. Ten minutes later his legs were covered in hives. We couldn't figure out why at first (he was tested for dog allergy and he wasn't allergic to dogs). Later learned the mother dog is given peanut butter in a Kong toy, she of course licks her puppies, and then the puppies brushed up against my son. Contact reaction.
My brother in law ate cake that had almond extract in the icing, and apparently never washed his hands. A few HOURS later, he was play wrestling with my son, who broke out in hives in several places. Contact reaction.

Posted on: Tue, 03/18/2008 - 1:46am
mpeters's picture
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Nutty1,
There was a recent thread in the main discussions forum about contact and anaphylaxis. I will try to pull it up for you.
Contact sensitivity can vary significantly from child to child. This is why many people have varying comfort zones. I have completely different comfort zones for my own two children based on the differences in their reaction histories and degree of sensitivity.
My daughter is on the extreme end of hypersensitivity. This is why she needs as many peanut free zones as possible. Her reactions are quite significant to invisible traces on surfaces, and she does not have to touch her eyes or mouth for those reactions to be systemic. And basically we have learned through experience (i.e. the hard way!)
100% peanut free would be the ideal for her, but systems change is an ongoing process. Unfortunately the changes do not always stick, for example a classroom may go peanut free during the year she is in it, but they return to using peanut products once she has moved on. Her contact reactions usually occur from surfaces in common areas e.g. doors, and playground equipment. Handwipes are available as the kids exit the cafeteria but the kids are not completely fastidious.
Meanwhile my son could probably sit right on a peanut and not have a problem, so his needs are different. Basically he knows not to eat peanuts and he looks out and speaks up for himself, His teacher and the nurse and other staff have been informed but it is not a big "hoo haw" as it is with my daughter.
Also he is two years younger, so the teachers have already learned in her wake.

Posted on: Tue, 03/18/2008 - 4:59am
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Thanks for your input, it really does sound like I will know with time whether my son will be super hyper-sensitive to peanuts(which of course I hope he is not), or if he'll be someone who can sit close to someone eating nuts and have no reaction at all-I'm praying it will be the latter! It is scary to have to wait and see how this will play out, fear of the unknown I guess.

Posted on: Tue, 03/18/2008 - 11:19pm
mpeters's picture
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You are exactly right. I had MANY nights of tossing and turning when my daughter was age 2 to around 6. After having worked through a variety of reactions, things became more predictable and therefore less frightening.
Of course there is always a level of anxiety, and you must continue to be alert and proactive always. We have also learned the hard way about letting our guard down. Remember that no one else will have it in the forefront of their mind at all times like you do. They will have their own worries, so remind others frequently (including school staff, close friends, and family)
BTW I found the contact thread in Main Discussion. It is titled reaction question.
I also hope for your son to be mildly sensitive, but if he turns out to be extreme, I welcome you to my world, and want to reassure you that things will mostly be OK.

Posted on: Wed, 03/19/2008 - 9:52pm
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It is also the way the school handles it. If the school handles it right and doesn't cause the kids to be further isolated than sometimes they already are being different. For my child, peanut free table is the only way because of contact sensitivities. Middle School and High School will be challenging.

Posted on: Sun, 03/23/2008 - 12:54pm
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My son's allergist is on the board of FAAN and he feels that 'contact sensitive' shouldn't be what we are concerned with. Rather, touching an allergen and then touching eyes, nose or mouth = *ingestion* of an allergen. It doesn't take a lot of peanut butter residue on one's hands and then into ones eyes, nose or mouth to cause a problem. That's why many want peanut-free tables for their children. Seemingly invisible amounts of pb can cause life threatening reactions. There really isn't any way to know if your child will react to this level of exposure or not as reactions can change from one exposure to the next so at the least I would have your child be very, very careful not to touch other's food, lunch boxes, the table, etc and to not touch eyes, nose or mouth, to wash before and after eating. If your child reacts at the regular table I'd for sure go for peanut-free.
More psych problems from being scare to die than from being made fun of, unfortuantely.

Posted on: Sun, 03/23/2008 - 10:27pm
pfmom2's picture
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There is a case study, but I can't link it...
Severe Systemic Allergic Reaction induced by accidental skin contact with cow milk in a 16 yr old boy... Case Study
J Invest Allergol Clin Immunol 2004; Vol. 14 (2): 168-171

Posted on: Wed, 04/16/2008 - 7:25am
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My son has been sitting at the "peanut free" table since he started at his school in 1st grade. It is his own preference to do so. It's not so much that I'm concerned with him "smelling" it. I'm more concerned with him accidently picking up the wrong napkin or the wrong fork that actually belonged to the kid next to him. He is now in 4th grade and this has worked well for him so far. He has never felt isolated, only safer. Anyone can sit there as long as they didn't bring PB or peanut products so there are always kids there. The school lunches do not contain nuts (aside from a few packaged items that have "traces").
He knows that when he goes to middle school, there will not be a peanut free table but he has two more years to learn to accept that and know how to protect himself. Also, by the time they're in middle school, I think that kids tend to have more of a variety of food interests other than just peanut butter and jelly so I believe that there is less of it around.

Posted on: Fri, 05/02/2008 - 11:48am
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I know there is two sides to everything but DD has had many different seating assignments and many are not right. Our current setup is there is one table is the lunch room that is "Nut Free". This has been the best year ever because her friends can sit with her. You are right thou it can be handled wrong. We have had that too. Where she was placed in a desk that was normally used for punishment. The school's usual argument is the kids sit by class and the one table does not work. We also had a period where she sat at the end of a very long table and sometimes she sat alone. The single most important word to keep in mind is inclusion. We have always wanted her to understand that everywhere she goes in life there is always a possibility so be aware of your surroundings and do your best.

Posted on: Fri, 05/02/2008 - 11:54am
mom1995's picture
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I am curious why you say there will be no nut free table in middle school? My DD will be in 7th grade next year and we have already had our first meeting with that staff and there will be a nut free table in the middle school as well as the high school when she gets there. We are in a small school dist and untill this year I did not she one of 19 kids in her grade alone with the same allergy. It was a real eye opener. The size of the school does not matter.

Posted on: Sun, 05/04/2008 - 3:08am
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My son started kindergarten this year. There is no policy in our school as to peanut allergies. It will change next year, but currently there is not. My son sits at a smaller table with 7 of his friends. One lunch-aide is assigned to his table and he is watched. I'm at school alot since the mom's serve lunch. I am fortunate in this way. If a child is eating peanut butter at his table, he can stay. As soon as the child is done, the table is wiped and his hands are washed before outdoor play. I did not want to go the section 504 route.
He is 5 and allergic to peanuts, all nuts and egg

Posted on: Tue, 05/13/2008 - 9:15am
mom1995's picture
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I respect you have your view. I just want to say please reconsider because without one at any time the school can deceied they don't want to make any accomodations such as the table you refer to and you will not beable to do anything about it. All a 504 does is put a plan in writing that helps you and the school agree and understand the needs of your child. Then if suddenly they do not want to provide that table or that aid you have a something that gives you the right to fight. If you have an issue the ORC can do nothing if there is no 504 to inforce. I am sure are doing what you feel is best and I am not there but all to often schools do not want to do a 504. Their reasons I fear are all to often not wanting to be held accountable or not wanting to do any extra. I wish you the best in wnatever path you choose.

Posted on: Tue, 05/13/2008 - 9:40am
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[b]All a 504 does is put a plan in writing that helps you and the school agree and understand the needs of your child.[/b]
Not speaking to anyone in particular here-
It's not just a written plan for understanding. It's about deeming a child as disabled due to a health condition. It's about a child becoming an individual who in the school context, must be afforded a level playing field. The child with LTFA must be afforded the same [i]opportunities[/i] as others, the same [i]access[/i] to education. The child with LTFA ought to expect the [i]same level of safety [/i]as others enjoy at school. To [i]participate[/i] in the education fully, not miss out because the teacher planned an activity including peanut butter. To not be [b]forced[/b] to sit at a table just because of his or her health status. (a school would never force a blind person to sit somewhere specific, or a diabetic. ).
What happens to a great 'plan' when a willing principal or teacher is replaced with a no so allergy-friendly one? What then? With a 504 plan, it's not about someones attitude, friendliness, or willingness to accomodate. A 504 is strictly business. Ponder for a moment, if the school is already providing accomodations for a child, why wouldn't they put those accomodations within a 504 plan? It's pretty rotten when you think about what the motivation for all of the resistance comes from: being legally responsible and being held accountable.

Posted on: Tue, 05/13/2008 - 11:34pm
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I have to reply to this, having just come from a conference about 504's. The attorneys that held the conference are experts in the 504 and disability area, which was why our district hired them. Just to preface this with the fact that we 504 all of our food allergic children in my school.
He told us that it is not proper to use breathing as the major life activity affected. He said often it is used in the context of food allergy, but he said that since their breathing is only affected if they develop anaphylaxis, it is not affected on a daily, regular basis. He compared it to walking down the street and getting hit by a truck. He said normally, a person can walk down the street and they are fine, but if a truck comes up on the sidewalk and hits them, it could kill them. A food allergic child can walk down the hall, participate in class activities, etc., and will only be affected if they ingest/inhale (whatever their particular allergy is)the allergen.
He also said that 504's are used far too often. I did ask him about the liability issue without a 504 and he said that old fashioned torte law would apply. That even without a 504, a school is liable to protect a child with food allergies, which is where the IHP (individual health plan) comes in. This means that if a child is injured from exposure to an allergen, and negligence played a part (a teacher giving a child a snack with the allergen, for example), then the parents could sue the district and conceivably win.
I use the 504, but quite frankly, as a nurse, my goal is to never have to give an epipen. I do all I can to keep the FA children in my school safe. All of the staff is epipen trained and we provide the parents with the accomodations that make them feel comfortable. We have a peanut free table that we use for one child with a peanut/tree nut allergy. This was at his parents' request. We have another child who does NOT sit there because his parents' want him to learn how to live in the environment. It's all about personal preference and comfort level.
The other thing I learned is that if a 504 is put into place, the plan does not need to include every accomodation that the parent requests. Also, the parents don't need to sign the 504 for it to be implemented. Just something to think about.
Sometimes when I read here it just makes me plain sad. There is very much an us vs. them mentality among some posters. Shouldn't it be a collaborative effort instead of conflict? What is wrong with using an IHP instead of a 504? If the school is willing to make accomodations and the nurse makes up a plan that the parents and teacher agree on, why does it need to be under 504? I realize that there needs to be education, but to be quite frank, I don't know a single soul in education who doesn't care about the students under their care, and wouldn't do all they could to ensure their safety.

Posted on: Wed, 05/14/2008 - 2:53am
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[b]He told us that it is not proper to use breathing as the major life activity affected. He said often it is used in the context of food allergy, but he said that since their breathing is only affected if they develop anaphylaxis, it is not affected on a daily, regular basis.[/b]
This is by far the most stupid assessment of the law I have ever heard. Whenever someone comes up with this, it sickens me. By that logic, an epileptic must be having a seizure at all times, a diabetic must be in the midst of insulin shock, correct? Egads. When a child requires a constant barrage of accomodations to keep them safe, they need a 504. What a disservice these people just provided.
Care to tell us who these lawyers are?
[b]What is wrong with using an IHP instead of a 504? If the school is willing to make accomodations and the nurse makes up a plan that the parents and teacher agree on, why does it need to be under 504?[/b]
There's nothing wrong with it if you don't plan on ever having a change of administration in your school from one that's helpful, to one that doesn't care about your child. Or have a school full of parents who hate the fact that your child has a food allergy and keeps messing up the fun in-school food fests combined with an administration who in the interest of not rocking the boat, refuses to stand up to said parents so that your child can safely participate.
An IHP plan says 'Johnny's class is doing a peanut butter craft today, your child will be out in the hallway while we do it. See what we're doing for him? [i]He's safe[/i].' A 504 plan says 'Johnny standing out in the hallway is not OK. He may be safe, but he's being [i]discrimated against [/i]because he has a food allergy. We don't allow diabetics to stand in the hallway, or gay people, or people of a different color. Why would we allow 'disabled person' to stand in the hall. How can we make this environment safe so that Johnny is not [i][b]discriminated against[/b][/i], so that Johnny can participate safely in his education.'
[b]This means that if a child is injured from exposure to an allergen, and negligence played a part (a teacher giving a child a snack with the allergen, for example), then the parents could sue the district and conceivably win.[/b]
I'd rather have a legal plan that makes everyone in that school sit up and say 'I'm well versed in Johnny's allergy. I've taken it to heart, [i]I'm required[/i].' A 504 plan shows the ultimate committment by the school to service the civil rights of a food allergic child, a healthy choice to not discriminate. Don't forget, Section 504 is [i]civil rights legislation[/i]. It is much bigger than accomodations.

Posted on: Wed, 05/14/2008 - 3:15am
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[b]Sometimes when I read here it just makes me plain sad. There is very much an us vs. them mentality among some posters. Shouldn't it be a collaborative effort instead of conflict?[/b]
I can only assume you haven't been on the receiving end of countless condescending glances and holier than thou attitude from your principal, counselor or whomever, stall tactics, deflection of responsiblities, attitudes of people who feel it's alright that your child didn't get a treat from the teacher after getting his spelling words correct today.
You know, when it's [i]your[/i] child that gets placed in unsafe environments and constantly overlooked, you get an unfortunate glance into the hearts of some people. This has been the norm for too many and it creates conflict when food is valued over the safety and inclusion of a child.
(sarcasm alert) So sorry you're sad that I can't seem to [i]collaborate[/i] with people who value food over the safety and inclusion of a child, and that I have a certain [i]mentality[/i] that doesn't give you that warm fuzzy feeling. There's one thing you can bet on, conflict [i]will [/i]arise in a parent's life, when a caregiver/teacher places their child in harms way and seeks to conveniently sweep inclusion under the rug all throughout the schoolyear, and does it ALL IN THE NAME OF FOOD.
It doesn't have to be so hard, you're right, but I'm hanging on to the 'it's not me, it's them' arguement....and for once, I know I'm right. Period.

Posted on: Wed, 05/14/2008 - 3:16am
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Hark! Hang on to ye cupcake all ye teachers, 'tis a blessed thing and above ye student's safety.
Oh, fhagettit.

Posted on: Wed, 05/14/2008 - 3:25am
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Quote: Ms. Amy Garcia, RN, MSN
NASN Executive Director
8484 Georgia Avenue
Suite 420
Silver Springs, MD 20910
Dear Ms. Garcia:
My name is XXX, and I

Posted on: Wed, 05/14/2008 - 4:04am
SkyMom's picture
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Once again Krusty you have added very logical, imperative comments for the safety of all students. Stephklem I'm sorry to hear that your support has faltered but hoping the above comments remind you of the issues that arise when a disability is left for others to pick and choose what is discriminatory.

Posted on: Wed, 05/14/2008 - 4:31am
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I'm not dismissing the problem. There is a woeful lack of education and I stand by the letter that I wrote, even though I did write it before I got further education on 504 plans and what they are needed for. And yes. It does make me sad to see the us vs. them attitude. And before you climb back up on your high horse, let me remind you that I have a child with a disability. He has bipolar disorder, and to most people, he seems just like every other child. They don't see the black depressions that he can't pull himself up from. They don't hear him say that he wishes he was dead so he wouldn't have to suffer anymore. They also don't see the rages and destruction. So perhaps the threat of death isn't as prevalent in his every day, but let me tell you, the fear of him taking his own life is in the back of my mind constantly. And I have most certainly been at the receiving end of the looks and holier than thou attitudes, from the people who tell me that it's the way I parent, or my unwillingness to set boundaries. I've heard it all. I belong to a board for parents with bipolar children, and most of us have received that kind of attitude. I plow in with a smile, and educate, educate, educate. I don't demand anything. I ask and we collaborate. We talk it out until we all reach an understanding. It does not serve anyone, educator or parent, to have a contentious relationship. We all need to work together for the benefit of the kids who are at risk.
I feel for every one of the children who live with these allergies, and as I said, I stand by the letter I wrote.

Posted on: Wed, 05/14/2008 - 4:34am
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Name of attorneys:
Drummond and Woodsum, they are in NH. Please feel free to contact them, they can most certainly clarify what they stated in their presentation

Posted on: Wed, 05/14/2008 - 5:02am
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[b]An IHP plan says 'Johnny's class is doing a peanut butter craft today, your child will be out in the hallway while we do it. See what we're doing for him? [i]He's safe[/i].' A 504 plan says 'Johnny standing out in the hallway is not OK. He may be safe, but he's being [i]discrimated against [/i]because he has a food allergy. We don't allow diabetics to stand in the hallway, or gay people, or people of a different color. Why would we allow 'disabled person' to stand in the hall. How can we make this environment safe so that Johnny is not [i][b]discriminated against[/b][/i], so that Johnny can participate safely in his education.'[/b]
An IHP can make the exact same accomodations as a 504. One of the food allergic children in our school was on an IHP prior to his mom requesting a 504 (this was the first FA child in our school when I became nurse). His 504 is identical to the IHP. Everybody was educated in the school with the IHP. Everybody in the school is educated under the 504. No difference.
I cannot even pretend to know what it is like to have a child with food allergies. I just know that I do the best I can, the staff I work with does the best that they can, and the school nurses I know do the best that they can. I also get that there are problems sometimes. I realize from reading here that some of you are up against some idiots. But we aren't all that way and sometimes, reading some of this stuff, makes me feel as though I am the enemy, simply because I work for the school system.

Posted on: Wed, 05/14/2008 - 5:26am
nutty1's picture
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This whole 504 issue gets very heated among these boards! My son is 5 and will be going to kindergarten in a year. I have to say that I am not looking forward to making the decision about whether or not to do a 504. Right now we are just working through daycare issues and keeping him safe there. I brought up the idea of a 504 with out allergist in the context of 'why do people get them" type of thing. He replied that it is "over-reactive parents, I have a few parents that insist on these 504's and they are not necessary". He also told me that it is ok to give my PA child 'may contains/shared on equipment' foods because according to him, "these companies are just trying to cover their butts by putting these labels on foods". Needless to say, I take what our allergist says with a grain of salt. I am getting side tracked here... I am just saying that the whole 504 plan issue I have very mixed feelings about. I have called the gradeschool where my child will be going and have spoken with the school nurse. I know that since my child has PA, his classroom will be peanut-free, and they have a peanut-free table in the cafeteria. Compared with what I am dealing with now, that sounds great, and I think maybe a 504 is unnecessary. What I deal with now is my son is in a daycare that is not peanut-free, and my son is their first peanut-free child they have ever had. I trained them on use of epi-pen, sx's, we have an allergy plan etc., and so far so good. I really am not looking forward to the 504 decision, but I appreciate all the perspectives people have on it from these boards.

Posted on: Wed, 05/14/2008 - 7:18am
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[b]I plow in with a smile, and educate, educate, educate. I don't demand anything. I ask and we collaborate. We talk it out until we all reach an understanding. It does not serve anyone, educator or parent, to have a contentious relationship. We all need to work together for the benefit of the kids who are at risk.[/b]
Oh see you've got me all wrong. You're under the impression, given my passion for the subject, that I waltzed into our school and with no tact, demanded this or that with little regard for who I knocked over on the way in. No no no, if you walk into my school, they will be the first to tell you that I am a thoughtful advocate versed in the ways of compromise. But I'm smart enough to see the system for what it is and understand the thought process of others who view this issue from a liability point of view.
[b]I have to reply to this, having just come from a conference about 504's. The attorneys that held the conference are experts in the 504 and disability area, which was why our district hired them.[/b]
I don't call them experts and I bet your school district is [i]thrilled[/i] with their new 'lawyers'. There are prosecutors and there are defense attorneys -- your district hired defense attorneys, isn't that a bit telling? Do you understand why this is? I'm not sure you realize the huge step backwards this will do for children with life threatening food allergies. What a sad day for those families in your district.
So what will you do now? Will you advocate for 504's for those seeking them? Or will you fall in line? Maybe you now have no choice.

Posted on: Wed, 05/14/2008 - 12:11pm
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I will always give a 504 to a parent who really feels that they need one. As I said, I don't put anything different into a 504 than I would put into an IHP, but if they feel more comfortable with a 504, that is what I do.
Yes, you are definitely passionate, Krusty, and I do admire the fact that you are such an avid advocate. I know what it is like to have to advocate for your child, and I am not just talking about my oldest, I've had to do it in different situations for each of my kids. That's what parents do.
As far as our district hiring defense attorneys, well, what can I say? They still seemed to know what they were talking about.

Posted on: Thu, 05/15/2008 - 12:07am
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[b]They still seemed to know what they were talking about.[/b]
"Seemed to" is the dangerous part here. My feeling is that they have told you what they wanted you to internalize, what is in line with the school district. Now my concern is that where you are still willing to do a 504 for a family who seeks one, you will suddenly find opposition within your own team. Because you see, granting a 504 only happens after an evaluation. And I assume if the school is following correct procedures, there is more than one person who deems a child as eligible. Call me crazy, but with the recent hirings by your district, the other administation that makes up that eligibility team, will suddenly feel emboldened to say (heck, maybe even [i]told[/i] to say) "No, 504's aren't for food allergies, because breathing isn't affected all day long." When a school hires lawyers, they're trying to [i]reduce[/i] liability, and will fight like hell to prevent gaining it.
I'm worried about the place you may one day find yourself in and how sad that will be for you. I believe you care greatly about your students, but can just see this coming. The day when you sit across the table from a family who's just be told no, 504's aren't for food allergies....even when the US Dept of Education feels so, even though the USDA feels so, AAAAI, FAAN, on and on ....and plenty of elementary schools, the day when your school decides they just don't want to be held legally accountable.

Posted on: Thu, 05/15/2008 - 1:23am
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I guess I will cross that bridge if/when I come to it. At this point, I'm the 504 coordinator for the school, so if I recommend one, the principal will ok it. I suppose there is a chance that could change, but I don't think it is something I need to worry about right now.
As a side note, the attorneys that spoke to us did tell the assistant superintendent that the district is liable for the safety of the kids on the bus. That was a very big deal to all of us nurses because it was the one issue that was being ignored. I had concerns because the bus company refuses to allow/train their bus drivers to use epi pens. Yet the schools weren't doing anything to accomodate the students. He made it clear to the asst. super that we needed to do something. So, we are in the process of hiring aides who will ride the bus. I personally think it's ridiculous. The bus drivers should know how to use an epipen, just as they should know first aid and cpr. It seems like a colossal waste of money when there is a capable adult already on the bus to have to hire an aide. But unfortunately, the district can't force the bus company, so we will provide an aide. Hopefully, with time, this will change.

Posted on: Thu, 05/15/2008 - 2:11am
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[url="http://www.dwmlaw.com/pa/school_disability.html"]http://www.dwmlaw.com/pa/school_disability.html[/url]
This is what I got when I looked up Drummond and Woodsum, then investigated a little further.

Posted on: Thu, 05/15/2008 - 4:56am
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hello friends..I myself have just returned from a visit with my daughters school nurse. I was assured for 4 years that the school staff was well versed in the food allergy dept.Well, March 17 my daughter had an anaphylactic reaction in school. The teacher told her to sit back down and wait til she was finished talking before she could go to the office. My daughter like she has been taught respected the adults wishes and sat back down. After the teacher finished talking my daughter got up and told her "I need to go to the office now please". The teacher sent her to the office w/o epi-pen w/o any supervision. Needless to say the school I found out was not well versed in anything. Since my daughters reaction I have gatherd info for them. I have made a large binder with and epi-pen dvd/trainer.a FAAP the 72 page Mass. Ed guidelines for schools. I had a meeting with the principle and met a nice put on a smile attitude but you can tell by her actions that I have "ruined her day".
Keep this in mind... my daughters teacher has a peanut allergy!!! One week after my daughters anaphylactic reaction in class the teacher passes out a snack to the class that has a known "may contain peanuts" label. (this is what my DD is allergic to) The teacher passes this snack to all the kids who want it and tells my daughter you can't have this because it may contain peanuts. My daughter is 8 yrs old. Needless to say I had a long conversation with the teacher to only realize that she is totally ignorant and she herself has the allergy. Go figure. That taught me to feel safe and assume that a person with an allergy is compitant. Some of our conversation was her telling me that she would never put my childs safety at risk? WHAT..you just did! She informed me that the "may contain" and "processed in a plant...." are simply legal terms and she eats food with that label all the time. What planet is she on...I'm sure a small % of companies do it for the cover their but senario but they obviously put it their because the manufacture items with peanuts.
The nurse just called me up to go and visit her. She had my binder in hand and said that it was very helpful and she read a few things in there that she didn't even know. Our school only has a nurse 2 days a week and she just started. I told her all my issues and concerns. You even informed me that the staff had mant questions for her. She is implimenting some of my suggestions and was appauled by the lack of education the staff, particulary the teacher with a "peanut allergy" on food allergies and the severity of it!
Needless to say my daughters teacher hates me. She has bad attitude. Oh well too bad I have broad shoulders. Whan it comes to my daughters safety I don't care what people think of me.
Soo please my message is..if you have a child with a food allergy do not take the schools word that they have a plan in place. Ask to see it. Ask how they respond to reactions. Ask, ask, ask! It could save your childs life. Luckily my daughter is fine. But psychologically she is scared to go to school because even she knows they did not react appropriately.

Posted on: Thu, 05/15/2008 - 5:12am
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sorry, that whole paragraph has a bunch of grammatical errors. I am so embarrased. I am just a bit emotional over this whole topic. It scares the living daylights out of me knowing what could of happened because I assumed the situation to be safe. As soon as I left the school and got in my car I cried. Since this whole incident most of the staff has been treating me differently. When they see me they turn away, My daughters teacher can't even look at me. You can tell just the sight of me makes her cringe. They tend to brush me off. It was never like this before. I can only hope they are not treating my daughter the same way. It was refreshing to see that the nurse is on my side. Thank God!

Posted on: Thu, 05/15/2008 - 12:19pm
cristym's picture
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Michellerene - You have every right to be emotional over the entire situation...who cares about gramatical errors any ways? ;)
As far as your daughters teacher and the other staff that turns away from you. They are either in denial because they can not accept the fact that they put your daughter in jeopardy or they are embarassed to face you becuase they put your daughters life in jeopardy. It is there problem not yours, you should be proud of your self for standing up for your daughter. I am proud of you!

Posted on: Thu, 05/15/2008 - 12:24pm
michellerene's picture
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thank you cristym for your support! I needed that on a day like today. Like I explained to the teacher; if we can get just one person to understand food allergies we have accomplished something great! Hopefully someday she'll get it!

Posted on: Mon, 05/19/2008 - 1:35am
nutty1's picture
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That is very scary, and I agree with cristyn (sp?) that the school is probably embarrassed by their lack of response to your childs reaction, as they should be! Do you have a 504 plan for her?

Posted on: Mon, 05/19/2008 - 1:40am
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No I don't have a 504 on her. I just found out that you need to apply for it. I just assumed my DD fell under it just by havivg a PA. I have read different opinions on this in this forum. Any suggestions?

Posted on: Mon, 05/19/2008 - 3:48am
Krusty Krab's picture
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Originally Posted By: michellereneNo I don't have a 504 on her. I just found out that you need to apply for it. I just assumed my DD fell under it just by havivg a PA. I have read different opinions on this in this forum. Any suggestions?
Just a note-there is no application for a 504 plan. You must ask for an [i]504 eligibility meeting[/i] where a team will consider whether your child is to be deemed as disabled according to section 504 standards. If they find your child eligible, then you move on to the accomodation phase, where you and the team decide what needs to be done in order to keep your child safe at school.
Begin studying everything about 504 and how it applies to life threatening food allergies.

Posted on: Mon, 05/19/2008 - 9:46am
michellerene's picture
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Thanks KrustyKrab, I will look into the 504. If you have any suggestions or pointers to give me..please feel free.

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