On September 5th, Mrs. M(Little R’s teacher) and I attended the annual back to school FAAST meeting. As always, it was a wealth of information. I learn something new everytime I attend a FAAST meeting.
This meeting, of course, was centered on getting ready for school. I thought Debbie Donovan R.N. did a great job of conveying the information in a way that is very understandable. She was very clear on how important it is to take charge and teach the school that every food allergy child has their own specific needs, even though the school might already have a food allergy plan intact. In many cases it is solely up to the parent to make sure the correct people are trained to recognize a food allergy reaction and how to use the Epi-Pen. Debbie developed a form to help specify each individual plan (I will add a link as soon as I write my own so you can see an example.) This form stresses prevention as well as treatment in case of a reaction. At the bottom is space for the doctor’s signature (which is important because it makes the form an official medical plan that the school cannot ignore.) Debbie explained that she always makes her copies on bold color paper such as flourescent yellow or pink so that it stands out in a stack of other papers. A copy should be in the nurse’s/health office, as well as with your child’s individual teacher/teachers.
There were some things discussed at the meeting in which I did not originally think about when planning for Little R’s first day. One of these situations was what would happen in case of a substitute teacher. Mrs. M seemed to pick up on this one quicker than me (I just love that she is so on top of things), and she decided that it would be best that in the case of her absence he would spend the day with the the other kindergarten teacher as opposed to a substitute (who wouldn’t know who Little R is, or maybe not know about food allergies.) This gives the other K teacher time to learn who Little R is, and to learn his plan. It helps greatly that she has had previous experience with her own food allergy student in the past.
Another situation was about having pets in the classroom. Many classroom type pets eat food that has nut products in it. Debbie recommended that there not be a pet in a food allegy child’s classroom.
I apologize that I cannot convey the entire meeting in this one blog entry. I simply decided to highlight what stuck out as most important to me. If you live in the Cincinnatie area, I urge you to look into FAAST. There are only a few meetings offered each year , but I have found them wonderfully informative. The annual membership fee is only $20, and I know that if their is some kind of hardship, this can be waived. If you do not live in the Cincinnati area, I know there are various other food allergy support groups around the country. If you need help finding one, I would be happy to help!