Managing peanut allergies in school children
Whether you are the parent of a child with a recently discovered peanut allergy, or apprehensively sending your allergy-prone child off to school this year, it is both comforting and helpful for you and your child to know that even though allergen contact may be life-threatening, you are neither alone nor vulnerable.
There are many strategies available to you and a heightened level of awareness within our schools to support your child and ensure their safety. We have put together some ideas you may like to try to help you and your child manage their allergy at school.
Talk with them
Have age appropriate dialogue with your child about the risks of contact with allergens, teaching them not to share food offered to them to reduce the risks to them. Discuss with your child the measures they need to take to ensure their safety. Teach them how to have conversations with their peers to create awareness and also what to do in the event of an allergic reaction.
Have a plan
You may find this site helpful in providing tips for educating your child on how to handle their allergy at school:
Arrange to meet with your child’s teacher before back to school, or early in the school year, to discuss their specific allergy needs and form a food allergy management plan together that details information such as; how to inform the other students and create an environment of understanding, awareness and inclusion, both within and outside the classroom. Make sure this strategy also includes an action plan if your child comes into contact with an allergen and has a reaction including how to use emergency medication.
Create an open dialogue with the school nurse/health staff about the action plan; how they will handle an allergic reaction scenario, use of epinephrine auto-injector pens, contacting emergency services and parents/guardians in the event of a reaction.
Speak with the school’s principal to discuss how the school handles allergy-related emergencies, students with food allergies and develop a plan together to keep your child allergy-safe at school
Ask to meet with the school’s food service directors to ensure that there are measures in place to ensure your child is not served or exposed to food that may trigger a reaction.
The following websites are an excellent resource for information on how to engage with your child’s school to create a concrete plan to manage their allergy:
Help them understand
On the home front, it is beneficial to normalise the situation for your child and help them know that many children have allergies. Please encourage your child to talk and express their feelings about it and find positive ways to view their situation.
Teach your child and help them to understand that there are strategies available to help them feel and stay safe and minimise the risk of contact and an allergic reaction.
Find your support team
Throughout the school year, maintain an open dialogue with your child’s teacher, health care staff and the school principal and engage in raising awareness within the greater school community. There will be families other than your own that will also benefit from this and appreciate your support.
Finding online or community groups and forums can also be a great way to share ideas and find support for yourself, your family and your child.
Combined together, these measures can provide great support, understanding and practical ways to manage your child’s allergy, give you peace of mind, and create a happier, healthier life for them.