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Managing allergies in education settings

Particularly for those children/students who are at risk of anaphylaxis, efforts should be made as far as possible and practicable to enable them to avoid exposure to the allergens (triggers) concerned. In general, procedures should be set up in the early childhood or school settings which are based on the age and needs of the child and the nature of the education setting (location etc). Blanket bans on food are not recommended although early childhood services and new entrant classes in primary schools may consider this as a way to reduce exposure in very young children.

Enlisting the support of other children, particularly in early childhood and new entrant levels, can also be a useful strategy in keeping food-allergic children safe. It can also help to minimise the risk of bullying on the basis of food allergies in the longer-term; and/or older children/adolescents not wanting to disclose their food allergies for fear of being ‘different’.

1. ASCIA guidelines on the prevention of anaphylaxis in schools and early childhood services

You can view the paper on the ASCIA website here.

2. Preparing your child

Starship Children's Hospital recommends 5 skills for your child when starting school here.

3. How to communicate to the wider community

There are many schools and early childhood services successfully managing the needs of a child or student with food allergies or anaphylaxis with the wider community support.

You can click here to download a sample letter you may want to use to communicate to your wider community as to why you make the requests you do.

We also have some excellent books available that are suitable to educate your centre or class on food allergies and anaphylaxis. Click here to browse through.

For example, the No Biggie Bunch is a perfect teaching tool for parents, teachers, students and the child with food allergies. No Biggie is both a catch phrase kids can employ and an attitude kids, parents, teachers and playmates can adopt with fun and ease. “No Biggie” is a positive tool to add to a child’s food allergy toolbox of support. When kids and adults are on the same page and prepared (both with safe snacks and a ready response), the social challenges of food allergies really can be “No biggie!”

For older children, from nine onwards, there is the Medikidz team, which explains exactly what happens during an anaphylactic reactions. This is also a good tool for other students to understand the importance of risk management procedures.

4. Food allergies

Click here for more information on food allergies.
Allergy New Zealand has a booklet “Letting go: teaching your food allergic child responsibility”. This is free to members or can be purchased here.

5. Insect venom (Bee or Wasp sting) allergies

Click here for more information on venom allergies.

6. Asthma

Allergic reactions to food, insect stings, drugs and/or exercise may be more severe in those who have asthma compared to those who don’t have asthma. Therefore it is important that children/students who also have asthma, have an Asthma Management Plan and staff education. These are available from local Asthma Societies.

7. Eczema

Click here for more information on eczema.
Many children with allergies have atopic dermatitis, otherwise known as eczema. However eczema can be irritated by many things including detergents, heat, dry conditions, woollen fabric, and even stress – in other words, not just allergens. Eczema can have a significant effect on quality of life for children/students if not well managed.