The anxiety of sending my allergy child to School
My daughter starting Pre-School this week has probably the same mixed emotions as other parents, my baby is growing up and becoming independent, I'm excited for her to make new friends, have new experiences and dare I say enjoy a bit of relief from the constant attention she needs! The house will be quieter, or at least a bit quieter if you have other children at home!
For me it's also is a nerve wracking, high adrenaline, nail biting fear that just doesn't stop. No-one knows my daughter better than I do, they don't know how sensitive she is, they will have other kids to look after not just mine and what if they don't notice her reaction quick enough or act fast enough?!
It's not an irrational thought. These are real things allergy parents think about, constantly. I'm not sure if you are familiar with the story of Elijah (follow @elijasecho to find out more). I think about his family almost every day, devastated about how this could have been allowed to happen. Yes mistakes do happen. That's why it is so scary! That's why you have to be on the ball ALL THE TIME as this kind of mistake to an allergy kid is fatal. The poor boy who had a life threatening allergy to dairy was given a grilled cheese sandwich. They didn't follow the written procedure. Elijah went into anaphylaxis. The nursery staff didn't respond in the way they should have done. They didn't recognize the signs of anaphylaxis. They didn't administer the adrenaline. They didn't call for an ambulance. The devastating result of this was that the sweet little boy died. He was the same age as my daughter is now.
Children are vulnerable, they don't know! They trust their grownups around them and they can't communicate how they are feeling. Sometimes they do, but sometimes grown-ups don't listen.
I've had a meeting with my daughter's Pre-School. I went through Eva's past medical history of allergic reactions, what she reacts to, what happens and how quickly, what they need to do and how to prevent reactions, my food labeling concerns...no stone was left unturned!
The response has been nothing short of amazing. In fact there is nothing more they could have done to reassure me other than for me to follow Eva around at Pre-School!
They suggested only serving meals and snacks that Eva can eat so there is no chance of cross contamination, no RED plate making her different to the other children and not being left out of any activities.
I went through Eva's emergency action plan. I had some differences to what they had in place and they were happy to amend and go with mine.
I asked for Eva's adrenaline injectors and medication NOT to be stored in a locked cupboard. This is so dangerous, this should never happen but some schools are still doing this despite guidelines saying not to.
I asked of medication to be kept in Eva's backpack on a high hook in her classroom where it is out of reach from other children but in close reach for the teacher should anything happen and be required quickly in an emergency. All Staff are trained in first aid and auto injector training (Epi pen), and this is refreshed every 3 months.
The school is a nut free school, and parents are not allowed to bring in cakes or food treats for birthdays or special occasions. If they want to bring something in, are asked to bring in bubbles or something similar that is not a health risk to any child at the School.
It was the attitudes of the School that impressed me the most, the fact that they were interested in learning, rather than coming across as though they know it all already and don't need to be reminded. They came up with suggestions on how to include Eva and they showed genuine concern for what she has to deal with.
I cannot thank the Pre-School enough for accommodating my daughter, making her feel included and putting my over active mind at ease!
I'm still obviously going to be a little bit anxious. Is she going to be happy? Will she enjoy it there? Will she be safe? Well at least I have been reassured on the safety aspect by the school and can see they have processes in place. She will adjust to everything else in time I hope....x