September 14, 2007

Food Allergies in the Classroom

Allergy Moms (and Dads) know that food allergy concerns at school aren't limited to the lunchroom. That's why I've always considered the lead teacher or homeroom teacher my most important ally in the fight against accidental exposure to sesame, the allergen that might cause a life-threatening reaction in my son.

When Smartypants was younger, I prepared an informational flyer including his color photo and vital information (like birthdate and weight) as well as allergy information for all of his teachers. I gave his homeroom an extra copy to include her "substitute folder," so that every sub would have the important info about my son. In preschool, I had the teacher post a copy on the "snack cabinet" so any volunteer helpers (parents, grandparents) would be clued in, too.

FAAN publishes several useful guides for school, daycare and camp staff. Closer to home, OPMama, a member of the Chicago Parent online community recommends that schools in Chicago area or nearby suburbs give Children's Memorial Hospital a call. OPMama highly recommends their free informative lectures on the impact food allergies on all families.

As Rees pointed out in the Chicago Parent forums, parents whose lives have not been touched by food allergies often do not realize how serious they can be. A bit of education helps the whole community.

Before a child even enters a classroom there are pages and pages of registration papers to fill out, right? Always skeptical about how closely those types of papers are examined, I mark forms with fluorescent orange FOOD ALLERGY stickers purchased through FAAN. This makes the crucial allergy information stand out.

Mabel's Labels (reviewed by Chicago Parent's editor here) also makes allergy alert labels. Back in June I stuck a regular old Mabel’s name Label on my seven year-old’s water bottle. After 8 weeks of summer camp, countless throw-the-bottle games and many passes through the dishwasher, it’s looks as good as the day I put it on. They are amazing.

Mabel's ultra-durable red and white allergy labels are customized to include your child’s name and up to six allergies. I would have loved these when Smartypants was younger. They are a boon for the preschool or early elementary child who may not be able to clearly communicate her needs. They are great for school, daycare and camp, too. Had they been around when he was little, I would have slapped one of these right on my boy’s shirt before heading off to a party where he might be wandering about, trying to grab a snack without me.

What are your favorite school/daycare survival tips?

Stay tuned: Next week I'll be back with a kid-tested round-up of the best allergy friendly foods on the market and a post or two about gluten-free diets.

1 comment:

Alison said...

Hi Kim,
Thanks for the food allergy series! I didn't know about Mabel's Labels and think it is great. I did a whole post on allergy clothing a while back, but I like the sticker idea.
I am an allergy mom too - great post about that!


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