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Is Your Allergic Child Safe in School?

By Nadine O'Reilly, M.A., C.S.P.

A severe allergic reaction to milk, peanuts, wheat, shellfish, latex and other types of triggers can keep a youngster from fully enjoying childhood. And that's not right.

We know how challenging and frightening it is to send a child with a severe allergy out into the world. A simple birthday party becomes a potentially deadly obstacle course for a child with a severe food allergy or latex allergy. You can't stop your mind from questioning everything; did the hostess remember to make sure no peanut oil (or wheat, or milk) was used in the cake? Will the festive balloons trigger your precious one's latex allergy? Whatever the cause of your child's severe allergic reaction"wheat allergy, shellfish allergy, peanut allergy, milk allergy, etc."you know it is out there.

When children go to school, the stakes and stress rise. Parents of a child with a severe allergic reaction face the dilemma of knowing most school staff may not be aware of how dangerous everyday objects and foods can be. It is important to be prepared to advocate for your child by working with school officials.

Have you ever heard of Section 504?

Section 504 is a little-known federal program that will protect your child from exposure to allergy triggers at school. For example, did you know that once you create a plan with your child's school authorities, a case manager will be assigned to over see his or her well being? They are your "extra set of eyes who will make sure your child isn't in the presence of allergenic substances, and make sure medication is administered properly and in a timely manner if exposure should occur.

Your child's school must comply with this Federal requirement, and you'll find they're glad to do so if you approach them with a comprehensive plan. A school psychologist is going to be your biggest ally during this process, so prepare yourself for a brush with relief once you meet with him or her.

Once you have a 504 Plan in place for your allergic child to guide them past potential dangers, it will also foster your confidence in helping your child live life to the fullest, safely. Working together with school officials, we can help your child safely access and enjoy more of the wonderful world in which we are blessed to live.

Need more relief? Any 504 plan you develop applies across the country, to every school environment, so even if you move to another city from the one in which you now live, your child's Plan goes with you.

Yours in health,

Nadine O'Reilly, M.A., C.S.P.

About The Author

Nadine O'Reilly, M.A. is a certified school psychologist and Coordinator of Special Services in northern New Jersey. She creates 100's of plans each year for children with disabilities. She is currently working on her doctorate degree (Psy.D) at the Graduate School of Applied and Professional Psychology (GSAPP) at Rutgers University. Nadine's son, Brendan Alexander, has a potentially fatal peanut allergy, and he is asthmatic.

Copyright 2006, Nadine O'Reilly, M.A.

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