April  2011
AllergyMoms Newsletter
3d ten things cover

 10 Things


with Food Allergies

Want You to Know

~ eBook & Teleclass


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or for more information.

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Greetings,    Gina Clowes
It was wonderful to connect with many of you at the FAAN conferences in Baltimore and  Chicago.

 It became even more clear to me how difficult life with food allergies can be but also how quickly parents can rally with the right resources and support.

I've heard from many parents who were so grateful for what they learned but more than anything because they walked away with hope! 

There is still one conference left  which will be held at DIsneyland in Anaheim California!  I'm looking forward to seeing the West Coast families in June.

At this time of year, many new parents are rightfully concerned about getting their children safely settled into school in the fall.  So I am reprinting some articles on that topic. It's never too late to request a plan for your allergic child, but it's a great idea to initiate the process before summer vacation begins.  

Take care,

Gina Clowes

P.S. You can learn more about the most effective ways to approach teachers and school administrators in my column in the upcoming issue of Allergic Living Magazine.  You won't want to miss the summer edition with everything you need to know about going back to school with food allergies. You can subscribe here.   


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 Section 504 Plans:

Does Your Child Need One? 

By Nadine O' Reilly teacher

Disabilities of all kinds affect our lives in the deepest of ways, particularly if it is our children who are afflicted with life-threatening conditions of any nature. What many fail to believe is that food allergies, environmental allergies, and allergies to substances such as latex and alcohol are disabling conditions that affect the way children access the world.

As a school psychologist, I know firsthand how difficult it is for parents to get what they need out of the 'system.' For over 30 years, professionals such as myself have been advocating for children with special needs of all types, including those with asthma and food allergies.

If you know your child needs services, then you need a 504 Plan. Furthermore, if your child has another disability in addition to their chronic health conditions, you need an Individualized Education Program (IEP - IDEA) and an Individualized Accommodation Plan (IAP - Section 504). Each program is similar in terms of legal protections for your child, but differ in that IEP is an IDEA term, and IAP is a 504/ADA term.

School personnel will often tell you that there is nothing they can do other than note your child's condition and keep an eye on them. This is untrue.

Unfortunately, many schools are ill-equipped to handle children with 'hidden' disabilities. I've found that school personnel will often bank on the possibility that you'll never know about programs that are actually your child's legal right. Of course, I'm generalizing here; I've worked with outstanding Child Study Team members who virtually took in children as their own.

The truth is, according to federal law, your child is entitled to legally-binding protection - if the complications arising from your child's condition are such that they impede their ability to participate fully in class activities.

School teachers, psychologists, social workers, principals, and nurses are enlisted to not only work with your child - but to REALLY take care of them. Teachers will be flexible with timelines for assignments; nurses will monitor your child daily and train school personnel on your child's condition/treatment/symptoms, etc.

Now, don't get me wrong. You cannot and should not ask for the world of your school personnel. Why? Because even though your child is your main concern, there is a line to be drawn. But your child's 504 Plan ensures that your child will not get lost in the mix.

What is a 504 Plan and how does it protect our children?

Did you know that under Section 504 your child may be entitled to the following accommodations, based on their food allergies?

-Their own water cooler
-Preapproved foods for classroom parties
-Non-edible birthday celebrations
-"Safe" table for lunch (exp. Peanut-free)
-Inclusion table at lunch with monitor
-Parent or school nurse attend school field trips
-Peanut* free classroom (*or other food allergens)
-Alternate materials used for projects ( Science, Art)
-Latex free school supplies provided  
-Medication monitoring by School Nurse
-Children wash hands upon entering classroom and after lunch.

504 Plans save lives!

Nadine O'Reilly is a school psychologist in northern New Jersey. Nadine's son is asthmatic and allergic to peanuts.


Dr. Robert Wood with Back to School Tips

By Robert Wood, MD       Dr. Robert Wood 


A new school year often ushers in new administrators, teachers, and other staff members, meaning that you, as a parent, must provide your child's caregivers with the tools and information they need to protect your child. Even returning staff members may need a refresher course.


Getting a jump on the first day of school


To ensure that the upcoming school year starts off right (and safe) for your child, the following checklist can help you make sure you haven't forgotten anything:


-Schedule a visit with your child's allergist to obtain any notes and medical releases needed for school. (You may need to contact the school to ask about any forms you need to fill out to allow the school to dispense medications or allow your child to carry his or her own medications.)


-Check your medication supply, including expiration dates to ensure you have sufficient quantities of fresh meds.


-Prepare or update a custom food allergy emergency plan for your child.


-Schedule a meeting with the school nurse, administrator, your child's teacher, cafeteria workers, and other caregivers (such as coaches) to review food allergy policies and procedures, including what to do in the event of a severe reaction.


-Make sure the school has sufficient quantities of your child's medications on hand, that they are stored in a convenient location, and that your child's caregivers know where they are.


Reviewing the food allergy policy


An effective food allergy policy leaves no questions unanswered. As you review the food allergy policy, make sure it answers the following questions:


-Who will train substitute teachers?


-Do medications need to be sent in every day? (If your child rides a bus, this could be an issue.)


-Where do students eat their lunch and snacks? (It's best to keep food out of the classroom, if possible.)


-Who provides the snacks?


-Will my child be eating at an allergy-free table? (I recommend some type of special seating arrangements and increased supervision for younger children with severe allergies, but older children can be weaned from such tables.)


-Is the cafeteria staff well educated in food preparation and serving procedures?


-Who is in charge of cleaning the tables? (Tables should be thoroughly wiped down with a household cleaning solution prior to each lunch shift. Obviously, your child should not be required to clean the tables.)


-How and when are students to wash their hands? (The school should require that all students wash their hands before and after eating.)


-How are field trips to be handled? (This needs to cover the field trip destination, what your child will eat, and who will carry and administer medications.)


-Will any science or craft projects involve foods, and if so, how will they be handled?


-Who's in charge if your child is involved in after-school activities and where will the medications be stored?


Reviewing the emergency plan


Because a food allergy reaction can go from bad to worse very quickly, everyone should know what to do well in advance of any emergency. Your child's food allergy emergency action plan should cover the following:


-Where should your child go for help?


-Who should accompany your child to the nurse or office? (For older children, having a classmate look out for your child is a great idea. Check out the Be a PAL Program for details.)


-What should be done if your child has a reaction in the lunch room, classroom, or gym?


-Who's responsible for calling the nurse?


-If the nurse is not present, who's next in line for action?


-When should the person in charge call 911?


Tip: Consider staging a drill for a severe allergic reaction. A brief rehearsal or two can ensure that everyone knows the role they play, that the medications are accessible, and that the people administering the medications are able to do it properly.


Many parents report that their children with food allergies are able to make it through school year after year without incident, but that is never an excuse for not remaining vigilant.


Even if your child had a reaction-free year last year, you should schedule a follow-up meeting with administrators and staff every year to thank them, celebrate your past success, and review your plan.


I wish you and your family a very safe, happy, and educational school year!


To COMMENT on this article go HERE.  


Dr. Robert A. Wood is Professor of Pediatrics and International Health and Chief of Pediatric Allergy and Immunology at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore, Maryland and author of Food Allergies For Dummies (John Wiley & Sons). Visit Dr. Wood's Food Allergy Website


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Content and information provided by Gina Clowes or AllergyMoms LLC is for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. For medical advice, please contact your physician or other qualified healthcare professional. 


 Content and information provided by Gina Clowes or AllergyMoms LLC is for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for legal advice.  For legal advice, please obtain the advice of competent legal counsel.