Anaphylactic children learn early in life to take their allergies very seriously. By the time they reach school age, chances are that they have had more than one brush with disaster. As soon as they can talk, they learn to say “no” to foods away from home. As soon as they can read, they learn to check ingredient lists. As soon as they are old enough to be responsible, they carry life-saving medication in a fanny-pack or backpack and learn to use it. Despite the best efforts of parents and schools, anaphylactic children live with a level of stress that most children do not experience. It’s a matter of life and death.
The parents of children with life-threatening allergies continuously walk a tightrope, trying to protect their children from exposure to even minute amounts of common food items like peanut butter or milk, without depriving them of normal childhood activities. Helping their children strike a balance between a necessary fear of exposure and an unhealthy fear of their expanding world is a difficult balancing act – and one that requires the cooperation of all who are part of the child’s life, including the school.
Most anaphylactic children do learn to balance the need for extreme caution with the usual activities of their age group. However, some respond to their condition by becoming frightened and withdrawn. Others, especially as they become older, are inclined to take foolish risks because danger is a constant factor in their lives. Families and teachers need to be aware of the stress that living with life-threatening allergies places on children.
Ensuring the safety of anaphylactic children in the school setting depends on the cooperation of the entire school community. Research has shown that school boards and schools that stress parental involvement, open lines of communication, and information sharing have reported high levels of community acceptance. (source; Anaphylaxis: A handbook for school boards, Canadian School Boards Association in conjunction with Health Canada, 2001)
1. To provide support for new and current Dorothy Lynas parents of children at risk of anaphylaxis.
2. To assist the school to create awareness of anaphylaxis within our school community.
3. To support the school’s efforts for the anaphylaxis training strategy.
4. To liaise with school staff and DLPAC to support the safety of children at risk of anaphylaxis.
All parents of children at risk of anaphylaxis will be provided a confidential invitation from the school to join the working group. Parents may choose to join in person and/or be part of our email group. Other than the chair of the working group, members maintain the option of confidentiality of their participation. It is expected that all members respect this option of confidentiality when discussing the role and activities of the working group. Other concerned members of PAC are invited to participate.
Chairperson contact: Cheryl Learmonth, firstname.lastname@example.org
Please contact Cheryl if you would like to participate in our working group, either in person for discussions or via email to hear what is happening.