Your child recently got diagnosed with food allergies. Now what? Here's my go-to list of how to prepare you and your child for the school year.
Having a food allergy or sensitivity is becoming the norm these days. Whether it is mild or serious it's important to prepare your child with allergies in advance of the coming school year. It's all about communication and collaboration so that your child's well-being is always front and center. I review some salient points with parents to come up with a game plan of action for your child with allergies.
- Find out how allergies are handled at your school
- Does your school follow Center for Disease Control guidelines
- What is the school's history with managing food allergies and severe anaphylaxis
- Speak to the school nurse and develop a written emergency plan
- Make sure the school has your child's allergy doc's contact information
- How do they prevent cross-contamination in the cafeteria or the classroom
- Is epinephrine or epi-pen ready and available
- Who can administer the epi-pen
- What happens on field trips, substitute teachers, on the playground or on the bus
Plans of action must be individualized for each student's specific needs. Give the school nurse a list of updated medications, an emergency contact list, updated permission slips for treatment, a history of the allergies and your child's developmental understanding of their allergies.
Decide how you will document your child's allergies. Individual health care plans or IHCP is a written agreement between the school and parents/caregivers. Request an evaluation for a Section 504 plan from your school district. This request must be made in writing and it is not governed by federal law. An IEP or Individual Education Plan will ensure that students receive special education and related services.
I advise my patients to take a tour of the school. Review your emergency plan and go over the rules for self-carry and administration of an epi-pen. Role-playing and presenting different scenarios helps to alleviate fear and anxiety. Role-playing can incorporate how to get help from a grownup, how to refuse unsafe food (prevent food bullying) and how to explain the food allergies to other children.
We offer state-of-the-art food allergy testing that is probably covered by insurance.