Hello, We have been living with severe Peanut and Tree Nut allergies for 10 years now. My son is in 5th grade at a new school, and his anxiety is worse than ever. At his old school his friends were very supportive, he was relaxed and happy. Here they seem to be open, but there have been several incidents at lunch. One included him being sent to the office to eat lunch, because there were too many kids that day with peanut butter, leaving him in tears. Then another child at the school had been bullied in an incident the week before. The nurse is sympathetic but has told me she still eats peanut butter herself and has peanut butter crackers in the nurses office! There is also another boy who goes into that lunch room every day asking about peanuts and nuts on the menu. I could go on, and we all know the variety of attitudes and incidents that can occur. My son has quit eating lunch-and I pack his every day. He is afraid every single day that he could die, and this breaks my heart. It's hard for us as parents, but these kids also live in fear for their lives with every bite they eat. SO, I have decided to create a support group just for these kids. "I've got your back" is our slogan, and I've found a young teacher at a local after-school program who has numerous food allergies herself, including peanut and tree nut, who would like to lead the group. Does anyone have any experience with this? There are so many support groups for parents and adults, but what about these terrified kids? I want them to know that they are not alone in school every day, and that they have someone to talk to when they feel afraid. It's one thing to be your own advocate, but I want them to have a place where they can discuss their feelings with others who are going through the same experience. I don't know where to start, and need some advice. We are all in this together!
By PeanutAllergy.com on Mar 5, 2016
Question of the Week: Answered!
Every week, PeanutAllergy.com answers one of the questions posted in our community.Our Answer:
Thank you for your question. We are sorry to hear your child is having a difficult time at school. It’s definitely important for your child’s allergy to be taken seriously at school.
The idea of creating a support group is a really great one. Many children can feel like they are alone in their experience with a food allergy.
Firstly, you might also want to consider other options specifically for your child. For example, you can speak to the school about creating a 504 plan. 504 plans, named for Section 504 of 1973’s Rehabilitation Act, guarantee a disabled person’s right to full participation in the benefits of federally assisted programs. This applies to a food allergy. It means that you can agree upon specific food allergy accommodations with the school and document them so that they are followed. You can read more about 504 plans and how to talk to your child’s school about one here.
It’s also important to talk to your son — or any child with food allergies — about dealing with bullying or teasing from other students. Many children are unfortunately familiar with this experience. While we cannot stop other children from behaving in harmful ways, there are some ways to deal with each situation as it rises. This teenager offers advice on how he deals with teasing related to his food allergy. You can see his tips here.
You might also want to consider joining an online support group where other parents talk about similar challenges. They might be able to give you some advice on starting a support group for kids. This board is a great place to start but there are other resources as well. Learn more here.
Finally, we recommend that you speak to the school about starting a support group and see if they can offer you any advice or resources. It should be a priority of theirs to keep the kids feeling safe and welcome within the school environment.
We also reached out to our Facebook community with your question, and you can see their responses here.
We hope this information helps. Take care!