Saturday, July 19, 2014

Back to School: Part 1/Getting Organized!

As I sit here writing this, I cannot believe that summer is half over!  Seriously, where did the time go.  I think I spent much of June organizing from the previous year and for the start of the new school year.  I  am trying to stay ahead of the game (aren't we all) by being prepared with all of the necessary forms needed at the beginning of the school year.  Whether it is immunization records or medication authorization forms, all of it needs our undivided attention so that we do not make any mistakes.  With that said, I started prepping for my kids back to school as soon as the other ended to avoid any end of summer anxiety that may be lurking.  For me, staying organized and having plans keep me calm.  My husband and many others who know me call me OCD, but I certainly think it benefits us all when managing two youngsters with severe food allergies.

Once 2014 summer began and I had all of our food allergy emergency kits back in my possession, I began to assess each one.  This is when I go through and check expiration dates, what needs refills and prepare my new food allergy action plans from FARE (www.foodallergy.org) for my kids' allergist to fill out (I mail them in and pick them up at out summer check ups).  I like to have a new one each year with an updated photo attached.  Last year while aimlessly shopping school supplies at Wal-Mart, I stumbled upon this inexpensive zipper pouch ($1).  They came in these really fun and bright colors.  I immediately started thinking of what I could use them for!  Then it hit me at how fantastic they would be for my kids' emergency kits for school.  Other than being super cheap, I loved the fact that they had a 'window' where my child's picture could be seen along with his name, allergies and weight.  Bingo!  I bought four!  One could only imagine how elated I was when ALL of the important stuff fit so neatly into it: Auvi-Q box (set of 2), small bottle of Zyrtec, and an inhaler!  Now I know it may seem so mundane to some of you out there, but this helped organize things for my husband and I.

Food Allergy Emergency Kit

After assessing what I need for each kit, I make a list and print my epinephrine coupons.  You can check out www.epipen.com/en/copay-offer and www.auvi-q.com to see if your eligible.  The coupons will allow you to receive up to three 'free' epinephrine pens (no copay) per prescription. I attach both an Auvi-Q coupon and an EpiPen coupon to each of my childrens' prescriptions.  This is super since getting multiple sets can add up.  Make sure to check the expiration dates when you receive your auto-injectors as I received epipens that expired in 6 months.  The pharmacist graciously swapped them out for epipens with longer expiration dates as I do not want to have to remember to change out expired pens during the school year.

Another must have for back to school is an allergy awareness bracelet.  Right now my kids think that they are really cool.  Here is a bracelet that I recently found at Wal-Mart near the pharmacy.  I cannot tell you exactly where the bracelets are located since this particular one seemed to be misplaced sitting atop the bandaids with no others in sight.  I took it as a sign that I needed to get it.  So I did.  

Food allergy awareness bracelet


 I like this bracelet because it has snaps and can grow with my child.  It was inexpensive too.  I recall paying about $5.  The other bracelets that we own are from Allerbling.  They are bright orange and came with two sizes (non adjustable) per pack.  I ordered the bracelets from Amazon a couple of years ago for about $15.  I am pleased with all of the bracelets and my kids are too.  On a side note, I have also seen individual food allergy awareness bracelets at CVS.  The last time I checked, my local CVS did not carry a bracelet that included all of the allergens.

Last year, Dairy Allergy Mom and I made bright, mini, classroom posters.  This was a new idea that we implemented.  Our goal was to assist classroom personnel (ie. homeroom parents, substitute teachers, etc..) in better identifying our food allergy kids.  The posters simply listed each child's food allergies and had a current school picture. The posters were hung in the classroom and were well received by school administration.  Both Dairy Allergy Mom and myself were delighted to hear that our school nurse keeps a similar system in her office.  This year we will make similar posters.

Lastly, in an effort to be back to school prepared, Dairy Allergy Mom and I met with our school principal and school nurse.  This was uncharted territory to meet during the summer!  We wanted to meet before school to avoid having the 'Meet the Teacher' night be all about our kids' food allergies.  I must say that following this meeting I was very relieved.  Sometimes you don't realize how stressed out you are until it is gone, right?  The meeting helped to manage our expectations.  It was comforting to hear that the food allergy policy will now be a part of our school handbook.  Dairy Allergy Mom and I continue our quest to educate and not to isolate.  We want the same things for our kids as everybody else...inclusion.  We have been blessed to meet the right people to help us along on our journey.

If any of you have ideas that you would like to share about your 'Back to School' preparations, please attend our next meeting on August 4, 2014.  We would love to hear from you.

Back to School: Part 2/504's and IEP's: What are these things?




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