Peanut and other allergies: Are we our brother’s keeper

15 Sep

Moi wrote about allergies in Food allergies can be deadly for some children:

If one is not allergic to substances, then you probably don’t pay much attention to food allergies. The parents and children in one Florida classroom are paying a lot of attention to the subject of food allergies because of the severe allergic reaction one child has to peanuts. In the article, Peanut Allergy Stirs Controversy At Florida Schools Reuters reports:

Some public school parents in Edgewater, Florida, want a first-grade girl with life-threatening peanut allergies removed from the classroom and home-schooled, rather than deal with special rules to protect her health, a school official said.

“That was one of the suggestions that kept coming forward from parents, to have her home-schooled. But we’re required by federal law to provide accommodations. That’s just not even an option for us,” said Nancy Wait, spokeswoman for the Volusia County School District.

Wait said the 6-year-old’s peanut allergy is so severe it is considered a disability under the Americans with Disabilities Act.

To protect the girl, students in her class at Edgewater Elementary School are required to wash their hands before entering the classroom in the morning and after lunch, and rinse out their mouths, Wait said, and a peanut-sniffing dog checked out the school during last week’s spring break….

Chris Burr, a father of two older students at the school whose wife has protested at the campus, said a lot of small accommodations have added up to frustration for many parents.

“If I had a daughter who had a problem, I would not ask everyone else to change….

The Spokesman-Review of Spokane reported on the death of a child from a severe reaction to peanuts. See, New peanut butter Cheerios triggers anger from parents

Piper Weiss of Shine is reporting in the article, Peanut butter and jelly sandwich sparks controversy: Can we really ban nut products from schools?

In Viola, Arkansas, a debate is heating up, after a student had his peanut butter and jelly sandwich confiscated at lunchtime. The school has a no-peanut-products policy due to a few students with allergies, so the teacher helped the little boy get a new lunch and sent home a note explaining the situation to his mom….

That note didn’t go over well, apparently. Soon after the incident, a ‘School Nut Ban Discussion’ group was launched on Facebook by parents conflicted over the policy.

5 peanut myths debunked

Some parents believe allergy-free students shouldn’t have to cater to a few kids’ health sensitivities, particularly if it means cutting out healthy or low-cost snacks packed in their own child’s lunchbox.

The mom who packed the confiscated PB&J sandwich thinks kids with allergies should learn “how to manage the problem” rather than live inside a “bubble,” according to a local news report.

Other parents of special needs kids feel like they’re playing second fiddle to those with allergies. “There are some autistic children that will only eat a PB&J sandwich or nothing at all,” one parent opposing the ban argued on Facebook.

According to the Viola District Superintendent John May, this is the first push-back on a policy in place in his school for some time.

“The policy is in place to protect those with a severe, life threatening problem,” May told Area Wide News, a Missouri-based news site. “Until we figure out something else, it would be foolish to drop the policy.”

Snack ideas for kids with nut allergies

Over the span of a decade, reports of kids with peanut allergies have spiked by 18 percent, according to the CDC. Today, about 1 in 25 children suffer from the condition, and about 18 percent of them have had attacks in school. As a result, school-wide peanut bans have doubled in the past two years. But they haven’t come without a fight….

A child’s well-being may have triggered the debate, but at the core of the conflict is a turf war. Is one parent’s concerns about their own child interfering with the way other kids are raised? Some parents of allergic kids know being unpopular comes with the territory….

Back in Viola, parents are looking for a compromise within the elementary school–hoping for a middle-ground approach some other institutions have taken. As opposed to banning nuts, some schools require all their teachers to be trained in using EpiPens, a life-saving device used in severe allergic attacks. Separating nut-eaters from non-nut-eaters in the lunchroom is another way to protect kids and raise awareness among students.

The Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis Network, a nut allergy advocacy group, believes compromise is better for kids with allergies than an outright ban. “What we want is everyone always thinking there could be a possibility (of an allergic reaction) and be on guard for it,” the group’s founder, Anne Munoz-Furlong, told the Associated Press.;_ylc=X3oDMTNtbnBlZ2dtBF9TAzk2NzE1MjIzMQRhY3QDbWFpbF9jYgRjdANhBGludGwDdXMEbGFuZwNlbi1VUwRwa2cDMTk5OTc4NTQtNzE3NC0zN2VmLWIyNzctMWZhYWJmZTBlMWY1BHNlYwNtaXRfc2hhcmUEc2xrA21haWwEdGVzdAM-;_ylv=3

Kids With Food Allergies has some excellent resources.

Kids With Food Allergies recommends the following 10 TIPS TO A HEALTHY STUDENT-SCHOOL PARTNERSHIP:

1.   Pick your battles.

Many issues will arise. Non-negotiable ones will need to be dealt with immediately. Negotiable ones let you work to keep your child safe, while also allowing the school to accomplish what they are trying to accomplish.

2.   Provide solutions.

If your child’s principal wants all students to bring in milk jugs for an arts and crafts project, ask if your child’s class can bring in water jugs (or orange juice, lemonade or iced tea jugs instead). Planning in advance can work for class parties, too. If your child’s teacher wants to throw an ice cream party, ask if water ice or a safe sorbet could work instead. Many times, activities that appear to be blatant disregard for your child’s situation are caused by a lack of education about food allergies. Explain the severity of the situation to your child’s teacher and/or school officials, or offer to find an expert to present the topic of food allergy at a teacher meeting. Offer alternative suggestions so teachers consider asking you for advice prior to the event!

3.   Smile and stay calm (if only for appearances).

It’s true. You really do catch more bees with honey. If you have a give-and-take relationship with the school and show appreciation when events go right, they will be more apt to help you next time.

4.   Get support.

You can’t do this alone. Involve your spouse, family, friends and people you trust. Sometimes a nurse from the allergist’s office will agree to accompany you to meetings or speak to a group. If this is possible, make sure you are on the same page first—with regard to diagnosis and treatment as well as your expectations of the school.

5.   Get it in writing.

Make sure you trust and feel confident in your child’s allergist, and try to keep your relationship a positive one. Get the best possible documentation you can from your allergist.

6.   Keep your child’s self-esteem in mind.

Always consider what is in the best interest of your child. Sometimes it is healthier for you to forfeit a conflict now, so that you don’t alienate someone who could help you down the road. There are many creative ways to allow your child to participate safely without changing the activity for the rest of the class.

7.   Become an expert in substitutions.

Have your child’s teacher tap your very creative brain any time food is used in a lesson. Then, be observant and creative. Next time a teacher wants to use washed-out cream of mushroom soup cans to hold the scissors, suggest washed-out Play-Doh containers…and provide them, if possible.

8.   Grow a thick skin.

Your child’s teacher may try their hardest to convince parents not to send their child in with a peanut butter cup or Cheetos for a school snack. But, sadly, there will always be one or two people who are difficult to convince. It’s not an excuse; it’s reality. Try not to take it personally.

9.   Show you care.

Let other parents know that you would make the same accommodations for their child—and follow through. Sometimes the school is responding to outside pressure from parents who insist on keeping the school “normal.” Showing that you are a team player can alleviate the pressure.

10.   Say “Thank you” when things go right.

Food allergy awareness greeting cards can be used to express appreciation and thanks to school staff.

Show your heartfelt appreciation any time another parent, child, teacher or school staff member goes out of their way to help make life easier for you or your child. If the classroom keeps special snacks all year long to help keep your child safe, sponsor a “thank you” party, safe snack or game time at the end of the year. Send flowers or a card to the principal or school nurse. Donate a food allergy book to the school library. Or start out a meeting by thanking the attendees for being there to listen and help.

It requires a great deal of tact and give and take on the part of parents and the school to produce a workable situation for students, the child with the allergy, and parents.


Michael Borella’s Chicago-Kent Law Review article, Food Allergies In Public Schools: Toward A Model Code

USDA’s Accommodating Children With Special Dietary Needs

Child and Teen Checkup Fact Sheet

Video: What to Expect From A Child’s Physical Exam

Dr Wilda says this about that ©

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