From School to Summer

By Heather Legg

Many schools around the country are coming to an end of their school year. This means transition. Some kids thrive on it, for some it causes anxiety, but for most parents of kids with severe allergies, it makes them worry. We feel safe in the classroom where we’ve written the letters, sent in the medicine and they’ve made it allergy free for our children. Now what? There are pool snacks filled with peanuts, ice cream parties full of dairy and play dates, camps, a plethora of other events and activities where we don’t have the same control over what may cross our children’s paths.

We can still be vigilant and keep watch over what goes on over the summer. Here are some tips to get you started:

•    Write the same letters to camps that you do to schools. Let them know fully of your child’s allergy – the triggers, reactions and treatments. Many camps have nurses, speak to them. Find out where the medicine should go, with your child or counselor or nurse. Pack it up and send it!
•    Find out about foods. Whether it is a birthday party, swim party, or camp event, find out what will be served. If your child is still little, go with him if it’s a party or play date.  Then you can make sure he doesn’t get into anything allergic and you can bring his own snacks. If a friend wants to take him for the day, find out what they’ll be eating. If needed, send food. If it’s a friend close enough to have your child for the day, she should be close enough to trust to do the right thing regarding allergies.
•    Make sure any sitters know. Often parents need daycare, whether it is a sitter, nanny, or other situation during the summer. Treat this as you would anything else regarding the food allergy. Make sure any sitters know what to do in case of emergency; leave a  detailed written plan and go over any medication uses. If it’s a daycare situation, do the same as you would for school; they may even work with you on adapting to your needs.
•    Start getting ready for next school year! Now is the time to get prescriptions refilled and over the summer you can talk to the school administration about needs at school. Don’t wait till school starts to do all of this.
•    Summer is a great time to load up on new allergy free foods and recipes. Your child can help you make some recipes and even help choose some so he will have some ownership over it. He may not fill excluded from other foods if he has had his hand in making something yummy and safe.
•    Plant a garden. This is a great summer activity and fill it with allergy safe foods. Not only will this provide a wonderful experience for your family, but you will know exactly what everyone is eating.
•    Remember to keep meds with you. Because summer is more casual, we often run out to the pool or a friend’s house with more spontaneity. Just make sure you have emergency supplies and meds with you. Same for traveling. Keep it with you and take plenty. You never know if you may lose an Epipen or antihistamines. It’s always best to have too much than too little.

Don’t let the allergy keep anyone from having fun! You can always modify, adapt and do what needs to be done to make a great summer. Remember, you can be in charge of the allergy, don’t let it control you and your family.

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