Back-to-School can be chaotic, exciting and a wonderful time. One sure fire tip for success is creating your own food allergy and/or asthma school checklist. Some of these time tested steps and tips helped my family enjoy many successful years. Take this list of ideas and chop it down, add to it and personalize it to meet your needs!
Below you will the link to create your own Back-to-School Checklist.
Food Allergy and Asthma Back-to-School Checklist
Before School Starts
Visit your Doctor
- Check-in regarding asthma control to review and update daily and rescue medication needs.
- Lung function can change over time; therefore, it is important to have this tested annually as well or per your physician’s recommendation.
- Review and update your Asthma Action Plan.
- Don’t forget to ask your doctor to have your child to demonstrate their spacer use to ensure good technique.
- Update epinephrine auto-injector prescriptions. Your child’s annual weight and growth might impact prescription dosing.
- Revise and update your Anaphylaxis Emergency Action Plan as needed.
- Get your prescription for additional epinephrine auto-injector for your child’s school. NOTE: even if your school stocks undesignated epinephrine auto-injectors, you still need to provide your child’s in the event the school supply has been depleted and they are awaiting the replacement set.
- There are four epinephrine auto-injector options on the market right now. Thankfully, there are free programs and discounts available. Many are enjoying access to free Auvi-Q’s via the AffordAbility program provided by Kaleo (your doctor must complete the form for eligibility). This Food Allergy Research and Education (FARE) post offers a quick overview of affordable access options: 2017 Patient Assistance Resources for Epinephrine Auto-Injectors.
- Reconfirm when to practice using epinephrine auto-injector trainers at school and home.
Contact School to confirm Food Allergy and/or Asthma 504 Accommodations Plan Meeting
Note: some families do not feel the need to establish a 504 Plan. Meet with your school nurse and administrators to determine the best method to accommodate your child’s needs. The purpose of the plan is to confirm avoidance protocol, inclusion and emergency response while “getting everyone on the same page”.
- Contact your school ASAP to set up a meeting with your school nurse, principal and teacher to establish food allergen or asthma protocol, inclusion strategies and emergency response procedures.
- Establishing accommodations before the beginning of school is best practice. Unfortunately, life sometimes does not allow for this! Spring is a terrific time of year to establish your plan and meeting at the beginning of school to simply confirm established policy.
- Before your meeting, review and get familiar with your school’s food allergy or asthma policy if they have this in place.
- Look to vetted resources for ideas. Most of all, consider your child’s day and touch-points with allergens or triggers and how to best avoid those!
- Consider reviewing sample 504 plans found on the Kids with Food Allergies Website
- Get familiar with how 504 plans work by visiting the Food Allergy Research and Education Section 504 and Written Management Plans page.
- Details on the various laws surrounding accommodations are well explained in the Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis Connection Team’s (FAACT) Food Allergy Civil Rights Advocacy Page.
- Plan how your child will carry to and from school asthma and/or food allergy rescue medications. Will they store their meds in a backpack, wear a carrier or belt? Check out my list of carrier and holders for ideas.
- Are they riding the school bus? If so, ask who will be responsible for administration during an emergency.
- Introduce your child to the bus driver and show them where they carry their epinephrine auto-injectors.
- Does your child stay after school for clubs, sports or tutoring? If so, where will their rescue medications be located? Who is trained to assist during an emergency. Most school stock epinephrine laws apply to when school is in session, not before or after the bell rings.
- Will your child arrive to school and play on the yard, if so, who will be responsible for responding to an emergency?
- How will you keep medications at acceptable temps while outdoors? Can you child leave their bag in a shaded area or with the coach or activity leader in a safe and appropriate location?
After School Starts
- Approach the school, teachers and staff with your most positive attitude. It’s simply human nature to rally around polite and pleasant-to-work-with people.
- The Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis Connection Team (FAACT)’s Planning for School: A Parent’s Guide is top-notch and worth a look! The goal of this important guide is to empower parents with information, facts and tools for a successful school experience.
- Set up a time to speak to your child’s teacher to offer your expertise regarding your child’s allergens or asthma triggers. Can you label read and call manufacturers to confirm safety information? Volunteer to call ahead to potential field trip locations to better understand allergen or asthma risks.
- Offer to assist with party or event planning which focuses on inclusion. Your free time might be tight, so offering creative ideas can be very powerful.
- Suggest food free options too, such as bubble or dance parties. Create a list of suggestions.
- Teach your child to self-advocate based on age appropriate abilities. For example, teach your child to only eat food from home (if this is your protocol) and how to say, “no thank you, I only eat food from my home”. Think about what they can handle this year and make that your goal to help them master it.
- Update school of any medical changes or needs.
- Provide your child’s rescue medications and keep an eye on expiration dates! If you need assistance, please check out the links above.
- If you are feeling anxiety or fearful about school, consider seeking help from a support group or a professional. Working with a child psychologist was the best choice my family ever made! My son’s anxiety levels dropped down to zero and we learned how to tell the difference between perceived and real danger.
- Create Shelter-in-Place or Earthquake kits as needed for your child in the event of an event that will require your child to remain at school or in their classroom for an extended time. Check with school regarding if these kids are necessary.
- Volunteer to read a short age-appropriate book about food allergies to students or present FARE’s Be A P.A.L. Program.
- Inquire if you can bring in classroom treats that are safe for all students (food or non-food) to help show students and teachers fresh ideas.
- Order and donate food allergy awareness posters.
- Based on age, establish a new self-advocacy goal for your child. For example, begin teaching self-carry their rescue medications or how to wipe down table tops.
- Invite your child to planning meetings when they are old enough to understand that they can commit to supporting parts of the plan, such only eating parent approved foods.
- Students should learn what is the best way alert their teacher if they believe they are experiencing an asthma attack or allergic reaction.
- If age appropriate, talk about the upcoming year and what they can do to help have a fun year.
- Remind them of the millions of other kids in America with food allergies and/or asthma who are just like them!
- Check in with your accommodation team to ask if your plan needs to be updated or changed.
- Meet with your teacher to briefly ask if there are any concerns or needs not previously discussed.
- Replace any expired or soon-to-be expired epinephrine auto-injectors or inhalers.
- Say thank you to those who are doing a great job! Encourage great support and behavior.