peanut free tables- are they really necessary??

Posted on: Sat, 03/08/2008 - 4:21am
nutty1's picture
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Joined: 02/24/2008 - 12:46

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
Shuleran's picture
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Joined: 07/25/2004 - 09:00

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
nonutsforus's picture
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Joined: 03/28/2002 - 09:00

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
OriJuice's picture
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Joined: 03/04/2008 - 10:50

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
nutty1's picture
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Joined: 02/24/2008 - 12:46

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
SkyMom's picture
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Joined: 10/27/2001 - 09:00

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
OriJuice's picture
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Joined: 03/04/2008 - 10:50

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
Krusty Krab's picture
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Joined: 04/20/2007 - 09:00

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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Joined: 10/28/2001 - 09:00

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
OriJuice's picture
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Joined: 03/04/2008 - 10:50

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
Krusty Krab's picture
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Joined: 04/20/2007 - 09:00

[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.

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