Back To School With Food Allergies: Matthew Starts Highschool: Part 2

Last Monday, I had both Michael and Matthew hand out their Medical Information Sheets to their 4 teachers…the Individual Student Plan also made its rounds. (Click here to read Part 1 covering both)

On Thursday night, Andy and I attended a Grade 9 Night for parents. It was a great opportunity for parents to take part in a typical Grade 9 day by following their child’s timetable. It was a chance to hear the expectations of their teachers, voice any concerns, followed by a presentation by the Guidance Office, Parent Council, Vice-Principals and Principal.  Various programs the school have to offer were outlined…options available for setting students up for success.

By handing out Matthew’s Medical Information Sheet and Individual Student Plan at the beginning of the week before the Grade 9 event, it gave Matthew’s teachers an opportunity to familiarize themselves with his medical backround…opening the door to any questions they may or may not have upon our initial meeting.

In those first few minutes before Matthew’s teachers started their presentation to the parents, I quickly introduced myself. I must say, all the teachers were very receptive to the information they received.

I learned one of his teacher’s has a child with Type 1 Diabetes and had already discussed Matthew’s peanut/tree nut allergy with the class (Michael also had this teacher in Grade 9). Another teacher disclosed that they have a child with a peanut/tree nut allergy and has grown out of some of their other food allergies. This teacher, in particular, was excited to learn of Allergic Living Magazine.

I had previously presented a copy of  the Fall 2012 Allergic Living Magazine to the Vice-Principal.  While perusing the magazine together, I learned that one of the school’s staff members is celiac…each edition includes regular sections devoted to ‘Celiac Expert, Shelley Case’ and ‘Gluten-Free Girl, Shauna James Ahern’, plus loads of ‘gluten-free recipes’, along with the magazine’s other great allergy/asthma related sectionsthe Vice-Principal was very impressed!

I believe this edition/magazine is a ‘must have’ for all schools with students/teachers with food allergies/asthma/celiac disease. I purchased this specific Fall 2012 Allergic Living Magazine edition for my boys’ highschool. The Vice-Principal will be handing it over to be available in the library for both teachers and students.

It is my hope that the school will decide that an Allergic Living Magazine subscription be a permanent fixture in their library.

Particular articles I marked and quickly pointed out to Matthew’s teachers:

Editor, Gwen Smith’s, Editor’s Note titled ‘Schooled in Allergies’ highlights her inspiration for nominations for the ‘2012 School Food Allergy Super Hereos’ article. I love her quote…”Education, done well, is a wonderful and powerful thing”. She ends with…”Afterall, when kids are safe in school, they can get back to what they’re there for: learning and finding out what bright future lies ahead.”

Allergic Living’s School Food Allergy Super Heroes article: 6 uplifting stories highlighting principals, teachers and support staff as allergy-aware leaders.

Avoiding Asthma Triggers At School article: highlights the increased occurence of asthma flare-ups in the fall season which seems to coincide with the return to the classroom. A list of classroom triggers is presented.

-Laura Harada, Executive Director of Anaphylaxis Canada’s article titled, ‘Off to College’ with an additional article by her son, Julian D’Souza, titled, ‘Son’s Point of View’: what a relief to read that most universities see food allergies as a reason for a single dorm room! I really enjoyed reading from a student with food allergies perspective.

-Kelly Rudnicki’s article titled, “The New Kid”:  A mother’s journey, in the United States, with her son with severe food allergies and asthma with various school systems.  

As you can see, this Fall 2012 edition of Allergic Living is a gem! (this is solely my opinion, no one is paying me to recommend this magazine)

As result of my interactions with the Vice-Principal…

1)  The Vice-Principal has encouraged me to join Parent Council…my presence this year would enable me to take part, in particular, with Graduation. As Michael will be graduating the following year, it could be beneficial for the school and myself to have an allergy awareness voice on the panel.

2)  I am currently looking into volunteering my time for Honours Night…students graduating with Honours the previous year come back for an evening where they are honoured. Michael achieved Honours last year…as there will be food present, I am looking to prepare some allergy friendly treats.

3)  I am waiting for confirmation of another activity to participate in…more details to come if it gets approved.

Matthew was initially nervous heading off to high school, however, the Vice-Principal’s attention to detail…introduction to the cafeteria staff and his teacher’s responses to his peanut/tree nut allergy…has seemed to put him at ease. He just recently said to me, “I feel very comfortable at school. The people there really seem to ‘get it’.” With tears in my eyes…” I thank you!”

As a mother with boys with food allergies, I feel my presence in the high school has been very welcoming…it has been quite a pleasure entering the high school and greeted with friendly, welcoming smiles from all the high school staff.

I believe in raising the awareness of anaphylaxis with food allergies through education. I believe together we can make school’s a safe environment where all students can learn.

P.S. Michael has just let me know that one of his teachers would like him to bring in the epi pen trainer to try in the classroom.

Questions: How do you approach your child with food allergies school? Do you get involved with Parent Council, volunteering in the classroom, presentations to staff/students, field trips and/or events at your child with food allergies school? Do you subscribe to Allergic Living Magazine? What do you enjoy about Allergic Living Magazine?

I know that is a lot of questions…I just really would love to hear how other families relate with their child with food allergies schools…I am always open to ideas/tips/your views! Please leave a comment…I would love to hear from you!