Going back to school is such an exciting time of year, but for families of children with food allergies, it can also be filled with anxiety.
Class parties, field trips, or other fun events always make me panic a bit because I know there are so many different ways that my daughter could accidentally be exposed to her allergens. I am always hoping my daughter will have an understanding teacher who is willing to communicate and modify things so that she can fully and safely participate in all school events and activities. So far, we have been very lucky. Her teachers have been wonderful.
For those of you that are teachers who have students with food allergies, or if you are a food allergy parent, here are a few resources that can ease the transition for food allergic kids and help provide support to schools.
Resources for Teachers
FARE (Food Allergy Research and Education) has a blog post about 10 things teachers should know if they have a student with food allergies. It is a great overview for teachers and gives them a few reminders to keep things safe and fun for EVERYONE. For food allergy parents, this may be a good one to print out and bring to your child’s teacher when you meet them.
Reading books is a great way to open up conversations with kids about food allergies.
One book that I have read to my daughter’s class for the past few years is called The Bugabees: Friends with Food Allergies by Amy Recob. This cute rhyming story tells all about the 8 bugabees and the foods they are allergic to. It describes some of the symptoms of allergic reactions and reinforces that even though the bugabees have food allergies, they can still have lots of fun with friends.
Just the other day, I came across another children’s book about food allergies published by Disney and Mylan, a pharmaceutical company that manufactures EpiPens. It is available to read online for free at My Allergy Kingdom. The book, Show-and-Tell Scout is about Scout, a little fox with food allergies. He starts school, and at first the kids don’t understand why he can’t share food with them, but then, after he tells them about his food allergies, they begin to understand. Teasing can be a big problem for kids with food allergies. I like how this book touches on this, and makes it easy to open up a conversation about teasing, and the importance of understanding and respecting each other’s differences. You can find this book by clicking on the link above or the image below.
If you have a student with food allergies this year, it is important to communicate. Communicate with the parents so that you understand what your student is allergic to, what the symptoms of a reaction are, and what modifications you may need to make to keep your student healthy and included. You also need to communicate with your students. A child with food allergies has to follow certain rules or routines in order to keep them safe. Sometimes, these differences may alienate them or make them feel left out. Talking with your class about food allergies will help everyone understand more about why your student may need to eat lunch at a different table or bring a safe birthday treat that is different than whatever the class is having.
I hope these resources help open up a dialogue about food allergies and most importantly, I hope everyone has a safe and happy Back to School!