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Safe@School™ with Food Allergies: Back to School Guide for Parents
An overview of how to get started with the school planning process
Preparing to send your child with food allergies to school can feel like an overwhelming task. Even for "veteran" parents who have done it all before, the start of a new school year always brings new teachers and new challenges.
Do your homeworkTalk with other parents of food allergic kids. If you're new, find out how the school handles students' food allergies. Compare notes & share tips - don't reinvent the wheel.
In addition to all the medical forms required by the school, prepare with the help of your child's doctor a one-page "Food Allergy Action Plan*." This document should include:
*If your school does not have a specific "Food Allergy Action Plan," you can download one from the Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis Network (requires Adobe Reader ).
Provide the school with epinephrine auto-injector(s) and any other medications as recommended by your doctor. Make note of the expiration dates.
Talk with your child. Reinforce the importance of following all the "food allergy rules" you've taught her. Encourage her to talk to you and/or a teacher if she has concerns or questions about how to stay safe at school. Give her a medical alert bracelet.
Build a teamKeeping a child with food allergies safe at school requires the cooperation and vigilance of many people, including teachers, administrators, cafeteria staff, maintenance staff, bus drivers, parents, and other students.
Maintain an open dialogueRecognize up front that this is a learning process for everyone. Think back to when your child was first diagnosed and how little you probably knew about food allergies. Remember that things that are second-nature to you now, like reading ingredient labels, won't be immediately so for others. The key is frequent, calm, confident communication.
Author Maria Laura Acebal is Founder & Director of "safe@school partners" (www.foodallergysmart.org), a nonprofit dedicated to training schools and camps on food allergy safety, and currently serving as CEO for the Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis Network. Reprinted with permission.
Updated November 2011 and August 2008.
Approved by KFA Medical Advisory Team August 2007.