You read it right, High School. High School is another world, and, thankfully, our daughter is loving it. Her multiple life-threatening food allergies were diagnosed when she was six months old. While it has certainly defined and changed my life during the past thirteen years, she has never known anything else. We have had a Food Allergy Action Plan since she was a baby.
**8/8/12 – Edited to add: if you do not know what food allergy induced anaphylaxis is, please read my post entitled ANAPHYLAXIS AND FOOD ALLERGY HERE.
Last week, her second week of High School, for the first time, she asked me why she has so many food allergies. While everyone has something, hers are unlike anyone else’s that we’ve met, and that while we know WHY she has them (family history), we’re unclear why she has so many. For the first time, she remarked that she was special because of her food allergies. Special, yes, and a constant source of pride for my husband and I. We admire her bravery, courage, and resiliency.
How does our Allergy Free strategy differ for High School from Elementary or Middle School? The difference is we did not meet with all of the teachers for a short presentation and Q&A. This year, I contacted and met the parent coordinator (click here for more info), the nurse, and the guidance counselor. I made sure all of the paperwork was filled out, emergency card was handed in before school started, our Food Allergy Action Plan was complete with a picture of her (there are 4,000 students in her High School), medications were filled and labeled properly, and dropped off at the school. I also typed a letter for the guidance counselor to hand out to our daughter’s teachers via email.
Here is the email…
We look forward to getting to know you and to a successful school year.
We are lucky, we feel our school ‘gets it’, and more than that, our child is old enough to self-manage her food allergies, which means, she knows not to eat anything without a label, and to always read labels when she’s out purchasing her own food. At this point, we don’t need anything like a peanut free table, or a nut free classroom. She self-carries all of her medications.
For those who feel that your child’s school doesn’t get it, please see the references below for more help. Consider hiring an advocate, coach, or consulting with a non-profit like FAAN (foodallergy.org) or FAI (Food Allergy Initiative) for more resources on how to talk to your school about your child’s needs.
Sloane Miller, Allergic Girl 9 THINGS ABOUT FOOD ALLERGY YOU MAY NOT KNOW
Lynda Mitchell Exec. Dir Kids With Food Allergies Foundation 10 TIPS TO GETTING YOUR CHILD OFF TO A NEW SCHOOL SAFELY
A SAMPLE 504 PLAN by Kids With Food Allergies Foundation
FOOD ALLERGY ACTION PLAN by Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis Network (FAAN)