Back to School – Communication is the key

Many of us will have kids who are going back to school in the next few weeks. Most of us are excited to have the kids back in school, but for others there is a certain amount of anxiety for the child and the parent, especially if your child has asthma, allergies or type 1 diabetes. What if my child has an allergic reaction to something he’s exposed to at school? What if my child as an asthma attack? Will she know what to do? Will the teacher know what to do? Does your child need a Diabetic Medical Management Plan (DMMP)?
Usually, as part of the enrollment process or at the end of every school year, the school nurse will send home a medical form. The form will ask several questions for the parent as well as the child’s physician and usually include an area for the doctor to note whether or not the child can carry his or her inhaler or other medications. All 50 states have laws that protect students’ rights to carry and use medicines for asthma and severe allergic reactions (anaphylaxis) at school.
“More than 10 million kids under age 18 have asthma, and one in four suffer from respiratory allergies,” ACAAI President Dr. James Sublett said in a news release from the organization. “Many kids with asthma and food allergies don’t have a plan in place at school. An allergy or asthma action plan doesn’t do any good if it’s not shared with the people who can act on it,” he noted.
For children with diabetes, a DMMP is critical. Because no two people manage their diabetes the exact same way, be sure to have a plan that details the course of care for your child. Some type 1 diabetic students get their insulin using a syringe and vial, others use insulin pens, and still others have insulin pumps.  Some students manage their diabetes independently. But younger or newly diagnosed students may need help with all aspects of their diabetes care. For this reason, doctor’s orders for school care need to be specific for student. Be sure to have a DMMP plan for your child and discuss the plan in detail with his or her teacher and school nurse.
Communication is key to ensure your child’s teacher and the school nurse know about your child’s condition and discuss the plan in case a reaction occurs. It’s important for teachers to know your child’s asthma and allergy triggers, as well as symptoms of hypoglycemia. Remember, talk to all of your child’s teachers including P.E. and art so they can understand the situation and know what to do in case of an emergency.
Most children, by the time they are in school, know what triggers a reaction and can identify symptoms to communicate to their teacher.
Children at risk for life-threatening allergic reactions from certain foods or insect stings should carry epinephrine auto-injectors and have them available for immediate use, the ACAAI said.
Many children with food allergies are able to identify what they can and can’t eat, but it’s helpful if other parents and your child’s friends know, too. Some schools have policies restricting treats for special occasions. If your child’s school does not, be sure to tell other parents and children what types of foods your child must avoid.
Communicating with all of your child’s educators is your key to an all around successful school year.