Believe it or not, it is indeed getting to be that time of year again. The bells will be ringing and the students will again fill the halls with backpacks full of new folders and lunch boxes, many containing allergens of all kinds. It can be a stressful time of year for the most seasoned parent, but there’s extra care needed when a kiddo has any kind of extra hurdle to overcome. Here is our top 5 list of things to help you prepare for the school year when managing food allergies.
- Get your paperwork in order. Having an emergency action plan filled out, which is current and signed by your allergist, is one of our top priorities. This document can be shared with the staff and goes into detail on how to manage an allergic reaction should something happen at school or after-school activities. There are also emergency plans for asthma, epilepsy, and other diseases that may need an emergency response while at school. Most schools also have a ton of paperwork including (but not limited to) emergency treatment release, self-carrying of medication, forms for each medication your child may need at school, and so on. Be sure to get these to your doctor ASAP to have them ready to go on the first day of school.
- Current meds (that are hopefully dated to last through the entire school year). This is often a challenge, because depending on insurance and how you can get them filled (and current issues with availability), dates may be an issue. Many schools and daycares will not take medications that have expirations which fall during the school year. When 1 in 13 kids has an allergy, it would be difficult in even a small school to keep track of the medications for all, so it really helps out the nurses and aides to have them last the year if possible.
- School Plan. Depending on the school you go to, you may be eligible for a 504 plan (if they receive public money) or and IHP/IHCP. A 504 plan is a legally binding document that specifies what your student needs to be on an equal playing field with the other students in the class. If it’s a school that doesn’t receive any public funding, they may offer you an IHP (Individualized Health Plan) or other document that covers management for your child’s needs.
- While there are so many supplies that are needed, kids managing health issues may have some additional supply needs. When the TealKid started to self-carry, he decided he wanted to use the SPI Belt* and he’s stuck with it ever since. He also is a huge fan (as am I) of the Flat-box* lunch box. It folds out into a placemat for his lunch. He usually zips down two sides to create a wall for added protection for his lunch. Handy Wipes* (bought by the case) are also something we see as a necessity for daily use.
- A good attitude.We have all had great and not-so-great school years. There are some that are a real struggle and we cheer the minute the year is over, and some where we wish the teacher could move up with our child into the next grade (which they do in some countries and sounds like a really neat concept). It can be difficult to move on to the next year, but we need to approach each year with an open mind, and listen to any suggestions we get from teachers from the prior year. I always ask last year’s teachers what they see that we could do differently for the following year. They are the ones with the best day in/day out view. I have gotten so much great feedback from many of them that really has helped improve the overall flow of the following school year.
What are some tips and tricks you have found to making the school year transition smooth for your kids? Anything that you feel has been a game changer? Any products that you absolutely love and help? We would love to hear what you have to say about the back to school trials and triumphs you have had!
*None of the products I have mentioned are sponsors in any way. They are just products we have found which work for us. You can also see what we were up to this time last summer. Hint, it wasn’t pretty- In the Wild.