No one wants the inconvenience of having a food allergy, but with the help of an allergy specialist and adopting habits to avoid offending foods, you can lead a perfectly normal life without symptoms.
For a child with noticeable or severe allergies, school presents additional challenges. Other kids may offer your child a snack they’re allergic to, pollen may be abundant in the schoolyard, and there’s always the off-chance of an insect sting.
So how do you protect your child while still providing them with the freedom to enjoy all the opportunities their school has to offer? The allergy experts at Riviera Allergy Medical Center have compiled the following tips to help make school a positive experience for children with allergies.
Make sure all paperwork regarding your child’s health is up-to-date and properly filed with your child’s school. Has your child developed a new allergy that’s not on the record? Make sure the latest information from your child’s physician is on file.
Talk with the school faculty to make sure they have a written action plan for allergy emergencies and that all relevant personnel are trained to act immediately. All adults with whom your child comes into contact during the day should be aware of this action plan.
The plan should include the following:
Every second counts when your child is having a severe allergy attack. Where is the EpiPen? Does the teacher keep it locked in the classroom in case your child needs it, or does she call the nurse? If these decisions are made before an attack, precious time can be saved in the event of an allergy emergency.
Don’t rely only on a written plan in a file folder. Your child’s teachers should be trained to recognize when your child is in distress and know what to do.
Teachers will appreciate your communicating what substances or foods your child is allergic to. For example, if a volunteer comes in with a service dog and your child has a pet allergy, the teacher can make the necessary accommodations. They can also watch for food triggers if another student wants to share part of their lunch with your child.
You might also visit, call, or email any faculty member who is designated to help your child in an emergency and explain your child’s needs. Many schools have a nurse or a health technician who fills this role. If your child plays sports or is in after-school clubs and activities, make sure the adults in charge are trained to respond appropriately if your child has an allergy emergency during those activities.
Preschool and elementary students are often involved in arts and crafts. Finger paint, tempera paint, and crayons have allergens that could trigger a response. There are allergy-free versions of these materials; make sure your child has access to them.
If needed, find out what type of soap your child will use to wash their hands. Some soaps contain extracts of allergens. The same goes for plant-based science projects: ask the teacher to use plants and potting soil that don’t contain allergens, if possible.
By the time your child enters school, they should understand what substances cause their allergic reactions. Train your child to “just say no” when offered a snack they’re allergic to. Role play these scenarios so your child feels comfortable speaking up.
Educate your child on reducing pollen and environmental allergens by washing their hands thoroughly and using paper towels or an electric dryer.
For expert allergy treatment or additional tips on helping your child cope with allergies, call Riviera Allergy Medical Center in Redondo Beach, California, or book an appointment online.
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