Thursday, September 12, 2013

research notes - what's with all the allergies? 504 suggestions for tree nuts

108th day
Sep 9, 2013

It's been a heavy research week for me - talked to lots of folks about 504 plans and such.  Everything has been calm, although we had to switch to dinnertime dosages so that we have 2 uninterrupted hours to keep an eye on Patrick.  On workdays we don't always have 2 hours of blocked time with him, so we are now keeping doses in the car (in case we go out to dinner or are running REALLY late), and trying to adjust our schedules.

Things of interest:
Discovery Channel documentary on the epidemic of food allergies in America - you can view this online which is awesome.  They have some good stories (and some very scary ones), and talk about OIT therapy at about the 40 minute mark (which is what we are doing with walnuts right now)

State laws for allergies/asthma by state - NC summary and links to the actual legislation

North Carolina law, Section 115C-375.2 (2005), requires local boards of education to adopt policies authorizing students with asthma or anaphylactic reactions to possess and self-administer asthma medication on school property, at school-sponsored events, and in transit to and from school.  These district policies must include certain provisions: 
  • written authorization from the student’s parent or guardian permitting the self-administration of medication
  • a written statement from the student’s health practitioner verifying the student’s health condition and prescription of medication
  • a written treatment plan for emergency protocol provided by the student’s health practitioner
  • back-up asthma medication to be kept on file in the school in the event of an emergency

Some salient points about the NC law and why I care:
-We are at greater risk because asthmatic kids are more prone to anaphylactic reactions
-We can let P self-carry his epinephrine injectors - this is unclear in all the Wake County school documents and varies widely by school.  But if we have to fight for it, we have the tools now.
-If a teacher forgets to move his injector around the school with him, he can always have one on him.  They might not have minutes to run and get it.  And if it's not on hand, they are less likely to use it as fast as they should.
-He can carry to/from school, for sports, and field trips.
-schools have to have school wide policies in place for asthma and anaphylaxis (we need both so this is positive and means the staff are more likely to be trained)
-They don't stock unprescribed epinephrine (yet) - but the bill S.B. 700/H.B. 824 is still pending. 

I'm sure it won't be a walk in the park, but having help navigating the minefield of rules has been fantastic.

504 notes - I talked to a GREAT lady from the POFAK (parents of food allergic kids) forums who helped me to start a list of accommodation requests that seem reasonable for a 504 plan.  Having a tree nut allergy but NOT peanuts changes the list pretty dramatically.  The risks aren't quite as great for us.  (He might not NEED to sit at a nut free table).  I won't send him to school with peanut butter (but he can eat it at home).  Erin doesn't get PB anymore either, there is one boy in her class with a severe peanut allergy.  Sunbutter works just fine, but we have to watch packaged foods.  (Kashi cereal bars, squeeze applesauce, annie's cheddar bunnies, and seed trail mix packs from peanut free planet are all favorites.  We try to pack our own foods but sometimes you're in a pinch!).

The current idea list - modifying as we talk to more folks and figure out what makes sense:

1. All staff who may supervise kiddo must be epi-trained and able to recognize a reaction.  (this should include bus driver, teacher, aides, lunch, specials staff)

2. Kiddo will self-carry epi-pens in a waist pack.  A backup kit with epi-pens, Benadryl, and rescue inhaler will be in the classroom with the teacher or with the nurse. (2 reasons to have the kid only carry epi: so epi is the only choice available and to eliminate risk of another kiddo getting a hold of the liquid/chewable meds).  If he isn't ready to self-carry, word this for teacher to carry and hand off to specials, lunch, etc.  Remove self-administer - he's too young, and honestly most folks having an allergic reaction feel so bad and can be so out of it that they aren't capable of doing it during a reaction.  We can't count on that, adults should be in charge if that is needed)

3. Staff will supervise handwashing (soap, not hand sanitizer) of each student after snack and lunch time.

4. Staff will sanitize tables and chairs after daily snacks with sanitizing wipes. Anything with actual TN ingredients is not served in the classroom as a group food.

5. Classroom will be food free except for the following: daily snack, birthday parties (kiddo's parents must be notified 3 days in advance), Winter and Valentine's parties.  (We might need to be the room parents, have parents send in money for the parties and then we do all the shopping.  This makes sure everything is safe.)

6. Substitutes that are not trained to use epinephrine: Kiddo will be placed in epi-trained teacher's classroom for the day or epi-trained para/TA will remain with the substitute teacher for the day.

7. Regular substitutes will be epi-trained. (i.e., the ones who do a lot of subbing for the school or who will be there for a long-term sub assignment)

8. Lessons that include food or allergy trigger must use safe brands.  Kiddo's parents shall be given a minimum of one week's notice to research and give approval.  If no safe option or accommodation can be made, the lesson will be replaced.

9. Kiddo will have a treat box kept in the classroom for use as needed.  (Covers when mom forgets to pack a snack, random PTA "surprise" food reward, candy handed out by specials teachers, etc.)

10. Food allergy bullying will not be tolerated.  Any bullying will be handled according to district policy.

11. "No shared mouth instruments, parents will provide a dedicated one as needed". (if they use kazoos, music instruments) - higher risk for peanut allergic kids more than ours.

12. Empty food cartons/cans being reused.  Often teachers will "clean" a nut can to hold group supplies or will stock a housekeeping center with empty real food containers.  Discard any unsafe containers of common allergens (nut jars, trail mix containers)

13. pencil pouch/box for his supplies.  Knowing how often little kids touch faces, stick fingers in their mouths, etc., we felt better keeping kiddo's supplies just for him.  

Notes for approaching teachers: "I know you don't want to have to epi my kiddo and this is one way to reduce the risk/make your job a bit easier" helps a lot.  Most don't want to have to be "the one" who messed up or who had to epi.
lunch arrangements.  Our school has a "nut free table".  Patrick eats PB&J just fine, he probably doesn't need to be isolated.  (Although I wouldn't send PB - I'd use sunbutter or wowbutter, etc...)  He's not airborne allergic to his nuts, it should work for him to sit with his class.  Suggested - sit at the end of the table and the kids next to and across from him can't have obvious TNs. 

Thanks to all the other moms and dads for the recommendations/assist on the idea list - keep them coming!  We will keep a running list until the summer and then sort it out with the school, allergist, etc...

1 comment:

  1. I love that your list is proactive and seems achievable for those of us not used to dealing with allergies. As the type of mom who wants to send in snacks/party stuff I especially appreciate the willingness to teach rather than just ban. And having been a substitute teacher I find this a very fair way to approach things as well. If you want me to run it by some of my friends who teach to see what they think then I'd be happy to.