If you or your child has food allergies – or know someone who does – you know what a serious issue this is. For some children, even minimal exposure can trigger a life-threatening reaction. Keeping children safe when it comes to food allergies is a top priority. This can prove more difficult when your child has special needs and may not be able to advocate for or manage their condition on their own.
Here are a few things to keep in mind when dealing with food allergies in children with special needs:
- You are their strongest advocate: Ensure that anyone who works with your child is aware of their allergies – this includes teachers, caretakers, medical staff, therapists, contract staff, family, and friends. Have your child wear an alert bracelet or other ID that lists all allergies. Know exactly what ingredients to look for on product labels.
- Cover all of your bases: Have a comprehensive plan in place at your child’s school. Make sure that any staff that work with your child knows how to respond in case of an allergic reaction. Make sure there is a clear list detailing any foods or supplies that your child cannot come into contact with. Volunteer at special events when possible to provide another set of eyes and watch out for your child’s safety.
- Teach children about allergies: This includes your child and their friends. If your child is in an inclusive classroom, their peers can be strong supporters in looking out for their wellbeing if they are educated about allergies. They may form a special lunch group where meals are allergy-free so your child can socialize with fewer worries.
Continue teaching your child how to be aware of and alert for their food allergies. Provide them with ways to communicate their allergies to others or identify when they may be in distress or concerned about a food. Communication is key, as well as being prepared by always carrying an epinephrine auto injector (EpiPen) or other medication in case of allergic reaction. Staff at PediaPlex are well-versed in working with children with special needs and accommodating for diverse needs.
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