As the mother of a food allergic child, you already know the constant fear that comes any time your son or daughter places something in his mouth. When you send them to school where you cannot control every piece of food, that fear can escalate. One way to help is to prepare your student and his teacher ahead of time for the challenges at hand.
Meet with your student’s teacher before the school year starts, explain the allergy and the reaction it causes, and talk about steps the two of you could take to make the classroom safe. If your child’s allergy is severe enough that even the presence of the food in the classroom could cause a reaction, the teacher needs to understand this. There are few teachers who want to put their students at risk, but some do so unknowingly because they are not familiar with how to prevent a food allergic child from being exposed to risks.
Sometimes, reactions are going to occur no matter how careful your student’s teacher is. Make sure she knows exactly what needs to happen. If your son or daughter needs an emergency shot from an EpiPen, then make sure the teacher has access to one. The teacher needs to have a complete understanding of what needs to happen to ensure he gets through a reaction without complications.
For your child, make sure he understands clearly what he can and cannot eat. If possible, pack lunches rather than relying on the school lunch program. You cannot be certain if a particular “safe” food was somehow contaminated by an allergen unless you prepare it yourself. If that is not possible, discuss the allergy with the school lunch program administrator.
Birthday treats are a source of concern for kids with allergies. Talk to the teacher about the possibility of providing an alternative treat. You may even be able to keep a bin of “safe” treats in the classroom that your child can use when a birthday treat comes in.
Parenting a food allergic child is always challenging. You have to be proactive all of the time, and this is even more true when your student enters the halls of your local school.