On my Facebook page I asked if there was a particular subject that people are interested in hearing more about and the response was about Children with Severe Allergies starting School or Kinder. So i am not talking with a medical degree only from the experience of 10 years with children with severe Allergies , please do further your researches and do what is right for you in the end.
Now being a mother of 4 with 2 with Epipens for Severe Food Allergies , I myself can say that the school year doesn't get easier as they get older when they have Severe Allergies , well your childs awareness and being able to protect themselves more , though being a mum having kids is exactly like we are wearing our Heart outside of our bodies , as anything that concerns our children and their safety of course makes us scared , nervous , sick in the stomach and all those not so great feelings , as at the end of the day they have been in our safe hands up until now and we have been of full control as much as possible of their environment to date. So yes the over whelming feelings that start towards the end of the year prior to them starting school are all normal and please realise you aren't alone on this one, hence another reason why I started my Facebook page to contact other parents going through the same things on the same page , to feel that they be able to chat and connect together , to re-enforce the idea that we aren't alone.
So once you have decided on the School your child will be attending , you should be able to talk openly to the principal all about your childs Allergies and ask them what plans they have in place as well as let them know how you feel about them or things you would liked changed , as at the end of the day you have to be able to walk away from the School and feel that they understand and have all the information they can in case of an emergency.I would go as far as asking what teacher your child will be having and if they aren't aware of that as yet to let you know before school ends that year before so you can organise to meet up with this teacher and go through all the important individual Medical history and needs.In this meet up you would discuss with the teacher Are they Epipen / Anaphylaxis Trained , oh and don't be afraid to hear the words "NO" in which I so have come across.In that case you would make the head of the School aware that you would like them to be trained , even so I still go through the training of Epipen myself with them and a Trainer pen (Keeping in mind you would still refresh their minds at the start of the year as well).
Make sure they are aware of all the things your Child is allergic too and show them Action Plan that should be displayed on the classroom wall in which your child will be in , as well as in the School Office , and the folders that some schools have for playground duty - Children at Risk. This is pretty much the most you can cover the year before your Child starts School / Kinder.
While at home before School starts the new year be sure to have all Medication Scripts filled ready for the new year all Clearly labelled with your Childs Name and can even have the amount your Child may need on the Antihistamine ( we use Zrytec) , Making sure the Epipen is in date and Labelled as well ( most Schools here in Australia need the Medications to have the pharmacy Labels on all Medications with your Childs name on them or they will not use them).
About Two weeks before Schools about to start I lay out the Medications and do labels or recheck labels and dates as well as visit a doctor or allergists if Child doesn't already have an Action Plan written and signed ready for the school to either have or take COLOUR copies of for the Classroom , Office and Staff playground Folders - the word COLOUR in capitals meaning if it is in black and white it really doesn't look important or stand out when most needed.
Also organise your Childs Lunch Box to either be different to what the run of the mill one would look like or have it WELL LABELLED , so there isn't a mix up , as when they are little they could mix them up , same goes on their Drink bottles to have them WELL LABELLED , as well as their School bag.
Next I would organised a Safe TREAT BOX for your Childs Teacher to have for when she/he wants to give out treats or there may be another Child's Birthday party in which your Child can't have the cake they can have a treat from their Safe Box that you have organised yourself. Fill this Box with treats that you know are ok and are safe for them to have , saving them from feeling left out or feeling too different to their peers.
Now the above is done you are ready as much as you can be till they start their first day which in itself for parents is hard enough without having the extra worry of Severe Allergies.The beginning of the first School year is a busy yet Scary and Anxious time , so having things planned the best we can will hopefully let our minds be at ease where it doesn't need to be worrying.
The first day has arrived and all is packed lunches , drink bottle , and you have treat box ready all Medications in one bag as well as Action Plan ( this can be COLOURED COPIED BY YOU AND LAMINATED to save school getting round to one more job , in which they didn't for few weeks this year for my children hence I will surely be going back to what i am suggesting). Once you get to School be sure to be earlier so you can get a chance to see your Childs Teacher in advance before they are taken over by all the parents trying to get their Children to stay ( another reason why knowing who it is the year before is of great Advantage where possible), as well as drop off any Medical permission forms filled out to the School Office and with the Medications and Action Plan forms ( for overseas have heard and read about a 504 - from what I have read this forms take a lot of work and time to get filled out so these should be done way in advance before the first day at School , if you think these are necessary is your personal choice and something to research as well as being as young as they are if in the first year they have a greater chance of getting these forms passed necessary authorise).
Clearly give all the Medications needed to the Teacher in class depending on your Childs School policies and run through the use of the Epipen if they ask you to as well as the steps to be taken in an Emergency reminding them that you are the last person to be called as Ambulance first , as well as hand them the snack box well LABELLED again with all your Child's details , oh and Mobile number is updated.
On this day do be sure to take tissues as it is harder than other parents with Children without Allergies as we leave just with the unknown that they are safe and that we have done all that we can to have all in place in case on an emergency , try to walk out with confidence that you were organised so far in advance and all will be ok.We as mum's and dads can only do the best we can to control this situation and know that you have done all to have in place everything your Child needs.
Now there is the question of Where do we leave the Epipen ?? in the classroom , at the Office on strapped on your Child in an Epipen Belt. From a parent to another I will let you know what we have done , because of their age in the first year of School and the extra curiosity of the kids we havent strapped the Epipen to our kids when they first start School , though we have had one in the Classroom they are in and any other Meds needed as well as one in the School Office - please make sure if the School Office is the ONLY place you have it in , do check that it isn't kept under lock and key as this in itself will cause huge problems if ever an Emergency came about. Now my older Son started wearing his Epipen from Year 2 , when they are fully aware that it isn't a toy and that no one of their friends are to touch it at any time , as well as keeping one in School Office.So far this has worked just fine for my older Son.
If it makes you feel heaps better for the first week most Schools wont mind if you want to call the Office to just check how all going , as this will put your mind at ease , as well as make sure especially the first day line up to visit a friend for a coffee so you aren't pacing the floor until School Home time comes around.
One other thing is you may want to get to know the School Canteen ladies and the lady in charge making them aware of who you are and who your Child is , and of their Allergies are , if able to Order tuck shop I always make sure if the Canteen has any of the Allergens that your Child is Allergic too as then decide if safe to order and exactly what is safe to order of the list , always writing on the order bag the Allergies that the Child may have as an extra precaution.
Now overall most Schools I know in Australia especially QLD will not ban Peanuts etc from the School and at the same time this doesn't come recommended either as gives the Parents , Students and Teachers false sense of security and think the Children are safe , when at the end of the day you can never be sure who may have to pack a Childs lunch if one parent is sick or maybe away , they wont know the rules and may pack the ban Allergen hence then causing a risk no one think is possible.
Last but not least a question of " How do we deal with the Students Parents from the Classroom our Child is in , one that doesn't want to accommodate our children's Allergies? " Now with this every year I choose to go to the Office and ask for a note to be written up to be passed to Parents or the Students to take home , making them aware that your Child has Severe Food Allergies and what to.You will find like I did the ones that aren't accommodating to your Childs Allergies are normally ones that really have no idea what a severe Allergy is , we so take it for granted that everyone knows what it is and how we feel or what the repercussion is if Emergency happens etc . You can also choose to type and print letter yourself to hand to teacher to read and give out , or better still as well go to the meet the Teacher times that in some Schools can happen in first week or Two and stand up and explain to the parents that may be there able how serious this is.The above are some of the things I do myself for my Children , and I so have to admit my youngest Son has had 4 Party Invites in last few months and all of which the parents have bent over backwards to accommodate our Son to be there and have checked Ingredients listings with me or Products I know are safe , even though ive said I will bring his own Party Bag of safe foods they have insisted not to , keeping in mind i still stay present at the party with Epipen etc as one of the most important rules are about Allergies is NO EPIPEN NO EAT !
I really do hope I havent confused anyone and have covered things of interest , if there are things you still want to know about that I may not have covered please feel free to make a comment or even go to my Facebook page and ask please....
Wishing you all a great week head :)