January Means Time to Think About Next Year

By Heather Legg

It’s January which means cold weather, maybe some snow, hot chocolate and believe it or not, school and camp registration. There’s a lot to think about when you are a parent signing your child up for something, even more when your child has allergies. I know a woman whose deciding factor on where to send her child was that another student had the same food allergies. Do I agree with that, not so much, but there are some factors to take into consideration for camps and schools:

• Is there a nurse on staff?
• Are teachers/counselors trained in Epipen administration?
• What foods ares are served? Do they bring their own snacks? Are policies in place for the major allergens (nut free classrooms, nut free tables, etc.)
• Does your child hold onto his own Epipen or is it stored in the classroom or with the counselor? Is it kept in the nurse’s office?
• Are there forms for specific emergency procedures?
• How many different teachers/counselors will your child have?
• If the counselors are teenagers, are they trained in awareness of allergy needs, symptoms, avoidances, dangers?

Some other things to consider…
• My daughter went to a preschool where they spend most of their time outside, they even rode horses every week. If your child has high seasonal allergies or animal allergies, this setting may not be the best for her.
• Lots of preschools do “group snack.” Many parents are as attuned into allergy sensitivities as you or I are. Can your child bring his or her own snack? How do you feel about that, missing out on the group aspect of that part of preschool?

I wonder why sometimes that we don’t have time to enjoy where we are and it’s always about the next thing – signing up for camp and school in January when the year still has half way to go. Stressing out on something new just when we are feeling comfortable with what we’ve got.

I think this is hardest on parents with young children, though, so there is hope! I finally feel alright with my allergy girl, though next year is a whole new school with classes to change, different teachers and no one watching what she eats but herself. Where will she keep her Epipen? Her locker? Her bag? With the nurse? Whose around for her to ask if she’s not sure of something? Who notices if she has a reaction?

Oh no, it’s only January and I’m starting to worry!

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