Preparing for the School systems(Canada)

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Hi All, I was reading about having a form 504 and IEP filled out on our little ones when they are off to school and making sure that the Schools recognise this condition as a disability and thus ensure accomodation and safety. Can anyone tell me what I would need to do up here in Canada??? More specifically - Ontario.

My little one is a way off from going to school but I thought I would get the details now. Thanks in advance, R

[This message has been edited by Rhonda (edited April 26, 1999).]

On Apr 28, 1999

Hi Rhonda, this school year is the first year that my son has gone to school. Troy is four and is attending JK in Hamilton, Ontario.

To prepare for his attendance at school I read Anaphylaxis: a handbook for school boards. This book was prepared jointly by doctors, school administrators and Health Canada and is very useful as an introduction for you and for school personnel. It should be available at your public library or from your school board's library/resource centre. I also reviewed the material at the Calgary Allergy Network internet site: [url="http://www.cadvision.com/allergy."]http://www.cadvision.com/allergy.[/url] I paid particular attention to the information it has on legal issues, school newsletters, peanut/tree nut free classrooms etc. You can use the Subject Index at the Calgary site to find a host of resources. I was not aware of the PeanutAllergy.Com school bulletin board (this site) when I enrolled Troy and the information here is invaluable. However, the disability provisions and 504 plans do not apply in Canada as far as I can determine. There does not seem to have been any attempt to use either the federal or provincial human rights codes to protest discrimination against food allergic children in Canada but I am not a lawyer (I am a librarian).

I also joined a support group the Hamilton Anaphylaxis Network. The information I got from other parents there and their advice and the recounting of their experiences with school personnel and other parents helped me shape my presentation to the school. To find a support group in your area call your local lung or allergy association, ask your allergist, or call the library or community information service.

With all that said, I'll tell you about my experience. I asked for a meeting with the principal, vice-principal, school secretary, school nurse, and teacher. I probably should have included the classroom educational assistant but I did not know this position existed at that time. I prepared for the meeting by calling the school board and asking about their anaphylaxis/food allergy policy. My school board has a committee working on this issue but has no board wide policy--each school makes its own decisions.

My husband and I went to the meeting where I made a brief presentation about Troy's food allergy, the Epi-Pen and anaphalaxis. I took with me, handouts that I had created based on information from our allergist, the support group and the Calgary web site. I also took the Allerex poster on how to adminster the Epi-Pen. Posters may be obtained from Allerex or perhaps from your local lung association. I got mine from the lung association. My presentation invited questions as I went along and in the end the meeting lasted about an hour and a half.

At the meeting we covered all of the issues that are outlined on this board in other posts. I am not going to go over them all here but will stress some points: Troy's teacher has an epi-pen in the classroom in an unlocked desk drawer where it is easily accessible. Troy carries a second epi-pen in the front pocket of his back pack. There were some concerns raised about possible harm to another child if one found the pen and used it on himself or herself but my allergist provided information that epinephrine is not likely to be harmful so that helped.

Troy's classroom is peanut and tree nut free. His classmates may bring snacks but only if they do not have nuts or peanuts in them and they may not have products that say may contain... A letter outlining peanut and tree nut ingredients and the reason for the ban was sent home at the start of the year. If a child brings such a snack it is taken away from them and a safe product is substituted by the teacher. A note is sent home with the child informing the parent so that the unsafe snack does not reappear. Troy does not eat anything except what we send to school. On a couple of occasions his teacher has asked about treats at Easter and Valentines and they have been ok. We tell Troy in advance to expect a treat from his teacher and that it will be ok to eat.

On party days where birthday treats from other children or Valentines or Christmas or Easter treats are going to be available, either my husband or I are a classroom volunteer for the afternoon so that we can help screen potential problem foods. Troy cannot eat any of these treats so we send him a special snack of his own but to ensure that there is no problem with airborne contamination or residue from sticky hands we monitor the other parents' offerings and the teacher politely but firmly rejects any that are problematic. On the one occasion where my husband and I could not be present Troy was extremely agitated and worried and the teacher reported that he removed himself to the cloak room and bathroom because he was worried about the foods. After that we haven't missed one party! They can be fun.

To educate the other kids the public health nurse visited the classroom with the public health department's copy of the Elephant who couldn't eat nuts video and I provided a copy of the preschooler's book: No nuts for me. Troy also showed the class his medic alert bracelet and the class was shown the epi-pen and the Allerex poster that was posted in the classroom.

An "in-service training day" was scheduled by the principal for all of the teachers at the school where they learned how to use an Epi-Pen and learned about anaphylaxis and food allergies. The school nurse handled this day. She had an epi-pen trainer which the teachers could try out. If you do not have a trainer yet, you can get one from Allergy Essentials in Nepean. Their 1-800 number is available on the Calgary Internet site I mentioned above. Also some of the parents from my support group have had a teacher use an expired pen in an apple or a grapefruit. Save all of your expired pens for this purpose. I learned this hint after I had thrown out our last batch of 6 expired pens!

I also made sure that the school had some pictures of Troy to post in the classroom and in the school office with his allergy action/awareness plan. The plan includes very specific information about what to say if the school has administered the epi-pen and needs an ambulance. In my city only paramedics carry adrenalin so if 911 is called it is important for them to be told that it is an 'anaphylactic emergency with a child in anaphylactic shock' rather than that it is a severe allergic reaction or other phrasing. I checked with local emergency personnel to determine the best phrasing and provided it in writing to the school. They in turn wrote it out by the phones nearest the classroom and in the office.

There is probably more that I could tell you but I am out of thoughts for now. Email me if you want me to answer any specific questions. I am happy to correspond with other parents of peanut/tree nut allergic children and have a few email pen pals that commiserate with me and provide support for those ugly moments when Troy is the only child in the class not invited to a classmate's birthday party because of his allergy and they celebrate the times others go out of their way to help and include him.

This has been a good year for Troy and for us and his teacher has been great. I was extremely fearful at this time last year but we have been fortunate. Others in my support group have had more problems but the strategies we suggest have worked in most cases.

Take care, Kathryn.

[This message has been edited by Kathryn (edited April 28, 1999).]

On May 1, 1999

Hi Kathryn, Thank you so very much for the summary and advice taken from your personal experience. I will be sure to get a copy of the handbook you mention from Health Canada. I find it somewhat concerning that we here in Canada do not have the 504 form here or equivalent. It , I think, really drives home the point with the school boards/teachers etc. of their responsibility to provide a safe environment don't you think? I have also been given some great advice from the Anaph. Network of Canada - have you ever spoken with them ? They are a life saver for the time I need to just call and check a manufacturer out or even just vent when the day has been, let me say, "peanut challanged" Thanks again ever so much for all your suggestions - I printed it off and have it now safely stored for action.

Kindest Regards from Mississauga. Rhonda [img]http://client.ibboards.com/peanutallergy/smile.gif[/img]

[This message has been edited by Rhonda (edited May 01, 1999).]

On May 1, 1999

duplicate - oops!

[This message has been edited by Rhonda (edited May 01, 1999).]

On May 19, 1999

As it happens, perhaps the best single resource I've gotten access to in trying to prepare for my daughter's schooling in New Jersey has been the Anaphylaxis Guidelines created on behalf of the school board of Renfrew, Ontario. The primary author was a gentleman by the name of Jim Bowie, who I believe has the title "safety administrator" or similar. As of May 1997, he could be reached at [email]bowiej@renfrew.edu.on.ca[/email]; he was very gracious about promptly mailing me a copy, and it is outstandingly thoughtful, thorough, and reasonable from an affected parent's perspective. Good luck!

On May 21, 1999

Thank you Kurt, I will try to reach him to get a copy.

Kindest Regards, Rhonda

On Jun 21, 1999

Hi Kurt,

I believe your post you were searching for from the other thread is two up from this one...posted by you on May 19 regarding Jim Bowie.

Stay Safe!

On Jun 28, 1999

Hello this is Jim Bowie responding, I would be happy to share my anaphylaxis policy with any one who wants it. Please contact me at the Renfrew County District School Board 1270 Pembroke St. West Pemboke Ontario Canada 613 - 735 - 0151 or by e-mail at [email]bowiej@renfrew.edu.on.ca[/email] Please contact me if I can be of some help.

------------------ Jim Bowie

On Jul 16, 1999

Here is a link to a copy of the Calgary Board of Education policy regarding severe allergies. The article is on the Calgary Allergy Network site: [url="http://www.cadvision.com/allergy/cbepolicy.html"]www.cadvision.com/allergy/cbepolicy.html[/url] Mark

[This message has been edited by Mark (edited July 16, 1999).]

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