Ask Us Anything: How Do I Advocate For My Peanut-Allergic Son At School?

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This post launches a new Q&A series. Email us your allergy, asthma and eczema questions and the Scratch or Sniff team will work together to address your concerns. Identifying details have been removed.

food allergy plan of action

Dear Scratch or Sniff:

..I was explaining my woes of trying to advocate for my son who is beginning first grade with a very nasty peanut allergy.

Being very new frontier for us, we don’t know how to handle the school and their so-called, “plan of action.” In my heart, I want to believe they have his best interest and safety in mind but I have a sneaking feeling they don’t think it is as serious as it really is, or they may need to be educated more.

For example…

On the first day of school, the boy sitting next to my son in the classroom asked for help to open his peanut crackers. The teacher opened them, asked my son to move tables just for snack, then had him sit back in his seat when the kid was done eating.

That. Is. The. Action. Plan.

Never mind cross contamination, never mind circulation peanut particulates… he moved seats. Good enough.

He didn’t have a reaction THAT TIME (on a one to five scale, my son, is a four-plus).

The school doesn’t serve peanut products off their own menu, but I was told they cannot ask or stop other parents from packing peanut products for their own kids in their lunch boxes in the cafeteria, or, in their snacks that are eaten in the classroom.

My “sneaking feeling” might be more like sirens and and explosions of emotion. I picked him up the second day of school just before snack because I was sick with fear.

My question is, where do I go to find the resources in my area to check to see if the school is abiding by the law, and really doing all they need to do to protect my son? I have a great fear of being “THAT MOM” but it looks like I am going to have to.

Any direction would be appreciated. SO MUCH!

Best,

Allison

Dear Allison,

Hi, I’m Crazy Allergy Mom, what’s up? Before I begin, I have some assigned reading for you.

Earlier this week, Tiffany wrote a wonderfully informative post on 504 plans. As she suggests, you should start with your allergist to determine exactly which accommodations your son’s allergy might require.

I’m here to calm your fears of being that mom, Allison, and to instead, hopefully encourage you to roll your sleeves up and wear your badge with pride. Who else will advocate for your son if you don’t? (BTW, check out Roo’s post about advocating for your child.)

Obviously this is an issue that will upset you. We’re talking about protecting your child here. You’re going to feel that hot feeling in your face like you’re going to cry. Don’t do it, Allison! Emotional tourniquet! You can cry later while you’re driving home from the meeting. That’s when I do my best crying. Sometimes I also sing “Let it Go” at the top of my lungs, which I find very therapeutic.

If you can get past your concerns about being perceived as THAT MOM and focus on the goals you identify with your child’s allergist, you can work through this calmly. As Tiffany suggests, be positive with the school officials and treat those you’re working with as if you’re on the same team. Maybe you can help them come up with a new “food allergy plan of action”!

Please let us know how it turns out. We’re all rooting for you!

Does your child have a 504 plan? Are you considering one? Any tips for Allison? Let us know in the comments.

 

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