Two Peanut-Allergic Kids in Same Class

Posted on: Mon, 05/10/1999 - 1:42pm
Noreen's picture
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Joined: 01/24/1999 - 09:00

My peanut-allergic son shares the same peanut-free preschool with another peanut-allergic child. I met with the other child's mother for dinner last week and we discussed having the boys in the same class throughout their school years.

The advantages would be a joint presentation before the school administrators, shared responsibilities for educating school personnel and parents, and maybe a better chance at a peanut-free classroom.

The other advantage might be in guaranteeing a genuine peanut reaction had taken place if both boys were reacting at the same time.

One disadvantage is their patterns of reactions have been different. My son has had more serious reactions than her son.

The main disadvantage I see is whether a teacher could/would/should handle administering an Epi-Pen to two kids at once.

Any and all advice is appreciated.

Noreen

Posted on: Wed, 05/19/1999 - 1:56am
Kurt's picture
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Joined: 05/19/1999 - 09:00

No special advice, but from some personal experience I would suggest you tread cautiously here, particularly as the parent of the less-impacted (so far) child. Imagine that school officials receive two sets of input from two affected families, one of which suggests that a lesser degree of
care or concern, and thus less time, money, and responsibility, is required in order to accommodate the allergy. Which of these two voices will get the most favorable hearing? If you are planning to "partner" with anyone on these matters, it could be a huge advantage and source of support...but you'd better make sure she's on the same page as you IN DETAIL. The mother of the other peanut allergic child in my daughter's preschool runs a bakery. Last week she brought in peanut butter brownies. Her apology: "Oh, it's been such a crazy day!" Best of luck.

Posted on: Wed, 05/19/1999 - 11:09am
dhumphries's picture
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Joined: 02/02/1999 - 09:00

I had a similar experience with my son's new day care. Initially, the assistant director said "We have other kids who are a "liitle" allergic to peanuts also, so we won't have any problems. We just won't serve your son peanut butter on the days we have it. As we all know, this just won't cut it with anyphylactic reactions, as so many products contain hidden "nuts". We had to bring her many articles on anyphylactic reactions, and she had an EMT explain it to her, before she realized the seriousness. Now, we feel safe there as the teachers, directors, and the cook are all aware of the seriousness.
On a side note, I was talking to one of the three year old teachers the other day while holding my son, and the other three year old teacher came up to us and said (rather sarcastically) "Don't touch him, Linda, because you may have peanut butter on you." Of course, we already know we don't want this teacher next year. This incident came shortly after the letter to parents went home banning food brought into to the classroom and the policy requiring the washing of hands and face prior to entering the classroom. I guess this teacher thought it was all too much.

Posted on: Wed, 05/19/1999 - 10:01pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous (not verified)

Debbie, please tell me you had a great comeback for that comment from the teacher?! That teacher needs to read FAN's tip of the day for today, she might change her tune!
[url="http://www.foodallergy.org/cgi-bin/tip.pl"]www.foodallergy.org/cgi-bin/tip.pl[/url]
Stay Safe!
[This message has been edited by Connie (edited May 20, 1999).]

Posted on: Thu, 05/20/1999 - 1:23pm
dhumphries's picture
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Joined: 02/02/1999 - 09:00

Hi Connie,
Unfortunately, I did not have a great comeback for this teacher because I was recovering from the shock of hearing her make that comment. But I later on thought to myself, "this is great training for things to come, as I know this won't be the last incident of this sort." I need to get a little tougher and a little bolder about dealing with the subject.
Thanks for the FAN link. Since discovering this site, I don't always go to the FAN site, and I am probably missing some great advice there.
Stay Safe, Debbie

Posted on: Thu, 05/20/1999 - 2:45pm
tracy's picture
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Joined: 02/03/1999 - 09:00

You know, it would be a good idea to imagine some of these scenarios ahead of time and come up with good, rational and calm responses (not put-downs, because that won't help at all). I usually stink at coming up with a quick response and then I obsess about what I could have said... or I come across as very emotional and that doesn't help either.
For example, what could have Debbie said in her situation? Something like,
"Thank you, Mrs. Snodgrass, for your attention to Sally's allergy. I really appreciate your concern."
Of course, this can be said sarcastically, or very sincerely. I suppose you'd have to practice it to sound sincere. A sarcastic tone will only make Mrs. Snodgrass defensive.
Or you could just ignore Mrs. Snodgrass because there may not be an effective way to deal with her comment.
I'd be really interested in other people's experiences with this and how they've successfully dealt with people who don't understand.
--Tracy

Posted on: Thu, 05/20/1999 - 10:17pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous (not verified)

Hey Debbie and Tracy,
Tracy, I had to start laughing at the name you used...my husband's boss is Mr. Snodgrass!! (Not a very common name and it took me by surprise).
Debbie, one thing this allergy has taught me is to speak up and be counted...even some type of response shows they didn't get away with the comment! Some people seem to think they can say anything and then just walk away without consequences. God forbid we say something back...we are then "difficult people and hard to get along with." Tracy has a good point! Sarcasm could result in a confrontation BUT diplomacy could make a big difference and still get the point across, like her example.
Good Luck and Stay Safe!

Posted on: Fri, 05/21/1999 - 6:21am
tracy's picture
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Joined: 02/03/1999 - 09:00

Connie,
Glad you got a laugh... have to confess I've never met a Snodgrass (thought I was "safe" in using that name [img]http://client.ibboards.com/peanutallergy/smile.gif[/img]).
I really think that practicing possible replies is a good idea. I think I'm going to work on this with my husband. Calm, diplomatic replies are very difficult to achieve (for me at least); the only way to be prepared is to practice. (It also helps take some of the emotion out of it.)
I also truly believe that many people don't intend to be sarcastic or hurt people's feelings. If they truly understood, they wouldn't say what they say. Keeping that in mind can also help when replying. I know that teachers have tough jobs and it's probably hard for them to keep track of every single special need for each student. When I deal with my son's teachers in the future, I am going to keep in mind they will probably be a bit nervous and stressed about dealing with his allergies. If a person doesn't recognize his fear or stress, it can cause him/her to exhibit strange or bad behavior (such as sarcastic comments). If that person does recognize he/she is a bit nervous about dealing with a peanut allergy, he can make better choices about his reactions (such as letting you know he's scared about it, at which point you can have a good discussion).
Without knowing this teacher Debbie dealt with or the exact situation, it's hard to figure out what the teacher's deal was, but it could have something to do with her fear of the allergy.
--Tracy

Posted on: Thu, 08/12/1999 - 8:19am
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous (not verified)

My son will be starting Kindergarten next week. The teacher assignments went in the mail yesterday, but his teacher called me today to introduce herself (orientation is Saturday) and to let me know there is another child allergic to peanuts who will be in my son's class. I was excited to hear about this because I thought that now my son won't feel so "alone" with his allergy and there will be someone else in the classroom in the same boat he is in and will be able to relate to. The teacher asked me if my son was also allergic by "smell." I almost dropped the phone. I was very impressed she even had knowledge on this type of reaction.
She asked me how I felt about her sending a letter to the parents letting them know there were two children in her class with a life threatening allergy to peanuts and in lieu of birthday parties with all the trimmings, she would buy the child having the birthday a book with the child's picture in it and make a "big to do" about their birthday w/o food being involved. I am still stunned at this teacher's initiative.
Kurt, you raise some interesting points. Any advice here?
I am not for an "all out ban" but I like to use the term "reducing the risk." The parents of the other allergic child, on the other hand, I know nothing about and have no idea where they stand on this issue. Being a "stay at home" mom gives me an advantage to being at the school when needed (w/o hovering over my son). I guess I'll know more about the other child's parents come Saturday at orientation.
Having these two peanut allergic children together...is it a good thing?
Stay Safe!
[This message has been edited by Connie (edited August 12, 1999).]

Posted on: Thu, 08/12/1999 - 9:40pm
Kurt's picture
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Joined: 05/19/1999 - 09:00

Hi, Connie. Your experience with the teacher is awfully encouraging, but I think you need a more formal and thorough approach if you haven't one already. We elected to have our daughter protected via a Section 504 plan, the content of which I have posted elsewhere on this forum a few days ago. Other than that, I'd want to have direct and detailed conversations with the teacher and certainly with the other parents. I'd be very uncomfortable being this close to the start of school and being in the position of not having done any staff education or obtained specific written documentation of plans for safeguarding the child or procedures for responding to emergencies. If that is in fact the case for you...I'm just guessing based on your last post.

Posted on: Thu, 08/12/1999 - 10:26pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous (not verified)

Hi Kurt,
I met with the Principal and PTA President a few months ago. (The PTA President is also an EMT and volunteers at the school full time). At that time, I discussed my son's peanut allergy in detail and have a letter from his board certified allergist regarding the use of his epi-pen. I told the Principal that once his teacher was assigned to him, I would meet with this teacher and thoroughly go over everything at this time. (This will be tomorrow--Saturday) after orientation.
I have a copy of an emergency plan of action and contact sheet with my son's picture on it and over a 1000 pages of peanut and anaphylaxis information which I have read through and picked out the best articles to hand out at the school for discussion.
I have not formally done anything in this regard (Section 504 Plan) and I hope it will not come back to haunt me.
There was a peanut allergic child in Kindergarten last year and I'm wondering if this teacher had this child in her class and this is why she knows about the peanut allergy.
With all the posting you and the others have done about the Section 504 Plan, and me not heeding the advice, now I really have to wonder if I have done the right thing for my son. The school does seem very accommodating to us.
Thanks, Kurt, for replying.
Stay Safe.
[This message has been edited by Connie (edited August 13, 1999).]

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