Heading back to school with a food allergy can be scary at any age. Lunch time, snacks, holiday parties and even birthday cupcakes can pose a threat. Luckily, now more than ever, food allergies are being addressed in public places often. Signs are popping up to let consumers know what environments contain peanut dust and allergy free menus are more readily available. Even though we are lightyears ahead of where we were 20 years ago there is still a long way to go to making every diner safe. If you have a kiddo with food allergies, take advantage of these helpful tips to make going back to school a little less scary!
Communicate with School Professionals
Have a conversation with teachers, administrators, nurses and even fellow parents of classmates about what allergy they need to be aware of. If parents know that little Johnny can’t eat peanuts, they are more likely to avoid a peanut based treat on birthdays and Halloween. The more awareness and communication you start with, the safer your child is at school.
Have a Plan
Most schools have an EAP (Emergency Action Plan) already in place but it’s always best to double check and have your own! If you teach your child the steps to the EAP as well as their teacher and admin, more people can help if a reaction occurs. Make sure epinephrine is available at all times and all those who need to access it know where it is.
Make your Child their own Advocate
The more they know about their allergy and how to prevent a reaction/ handle a reaction- the better! If your child can clearly communicate exactly what they are allergic to and know what to do if a reaction occurs, they can be their biggest advocate.
If a classmate does bring a treat that your child can’t enjoy, make sure to have a fun snack or treat available that the teacher has, or your child has access to so they don’t feel left out of the fun. A granola bar or bag of fruit snacks could change the whole course of a celebration!
From Pre-K to college, heading off to school can be scary with a food allergy. If you have open communication and a plan of action, it makes everyone feel more comfortable and confident.