Morgan is 14 years old and is in 9th grade in high school. He is anaphylactic to peanuts, tree nuts, sesame, fish and shellfish. He is severely allergic to dogs, cats and other furry animals. He gets eczema from food dyes and is allergic to grasses, weeds and trees. He is currently receiving allergy shots and is seeing a huge decrease in his seasonal and pet allergies!
When your done here, Check out Morgan's Corner on Allergicchild.com.
Self advocating on food allergies
My mom says that I started asking if a food had peanuts in it from the time I learned how to talk. I don’t remember that. I do remember wanting to learn how to spell peanuts so I could read labels and find the word. I remember my mom telling me that “Sooner or later, you're going to live alone and when you do, I'm not going to be with you. (Let's hope not at least.) Let's start now on working on how you can deal with food allergies by yourself.”
In preschool, my mom took care of everything. She made sure that no one brought in peanuts or nuts. And she made sure I had a safe snack to eat every day.
In kindergarten, I stayed all day at school, which means I ate lunch there too. That’s when food allergy signs started on the lunchroom table. My teacher and my mom talked to my class about food allergies and about not eating unsafe foods around me. Also, everyone had to bring in safe snacks for the snack bucket, but I still brought my own snacks. I knew what my food allergies were, and I knew not to eat foods other people tried to give me.
In 1st grade, I learned more about self-advocating. I was at school one day and my class had to go to another classroom. I knew that I wasn’t supposed to go into other classrooms at school because pets could be there, or kids eating peanuts. My teacher felt that the other classroom was probably unsafe, pet or food wise. I had to stand out in the hallway for a few minutes, being left out of whatever went on in the classroom. I came home, crying, and told what happened to Mom. She suggested that I needed to talk with my teacher. I wrote up a letter of how I felt when the incident occurred. The next day, I came in to school and I read the letter out loud to my teacher. My Mom was there as parental support. It was just us three. Both the teacher and I cried at the end. She said she never wanted to hurt my feelings, and I wanted her to not leave me out in the hallway ever again.
I learned in 2nd grade that I had to start to take care of myself, and that my mom wasn't going to be there all the time. One day in the lunchroom, no one sat by me at my peanut free table. I didn’t like that at all. I asked if I could get rid of the big sign that said, “Peanut Free Zone” and just be able to sit at the same place with no peanuts around me, but also no sign. We talked about this at my 504 meeting that year. By the way, I started to go to all my 504 meetings with the teachers and my parents from kindergarten on. I always was asked what was working and what wasn’t working. And what wasn’t working for me was to have a BIG sign that said “Peanut Free Zone.” So, we agreed to remove the sign, but that I would still sit right in front of the cafeteria monitor just to make sure no kids brought in my food allergens.
In 3rd grade, I started doing a PowerPoint presentation I created for the class. I continued doing this in 4th and in 5th grade. There were just a few slides. I talked about what my food allergies are, what the class can do to keep me safe (don’t bring in peanuts, nuts, sesame or fish) into the classroom, don’t sit by me at lunch if you’re eating those foods, and don’t get upset if I ask you to move if you are eating those things. It really helped.
In 4th grade, I got to go on field trips on my own. Before that, my Mom came on every field trip. I wanted to go on field trips without her. I carried my own EpiPen and other medicines in a fanny pack on the field trips. Everything worked out fine.
In 5th grade, I started to carry my own EpiPen at school. The law in Colorado passed, and I could start doing this. There was still a medicine box in the office at school with my Benadryl and eye drops in it, and an extra EpiPen just in case.
In 6th grade, I brought in all the Peanut/Nut Free Zone signs for my classrooms. I talked with the principal about the peanut free tables in the lunchroom. My Mom didn’t come into school at all for that. We (Mom and I) had a meeting with all my teachers at the start of the school year, and talked about no foods being in any of my classrooms.
In 7th grade, the process happened again, but this time my classrooms were spread apart, unlike the Pods in 6th grade (classes in one group/area). This year, there were more dances and parties, but food was no problem since I had already dealt with my teachers.
In 8th grade, it was the same as 7th, just my classes were a bit farther apart. Lunch was no problem in any of the middle school grades since I had made my friends aware of my food allergies.
The step from Middle School to High School was more of a leap than a step. At my high school, people can eat lunch anywhere on campus: hallways, courtyards, even classrooms. This created a problem for classes after lunch- thankfully only one class each day is after lunch. Even then, people can eat anytime and anyplace. This includes during class time and during free period. My choir teacher simply just said ‘No food allowed’. It has worked quite well and I haven’t had any problems. Other teachers have been sort of lenient on food, but the class that does allow food is a freshman class, so I have been with these friends for 3 or more years, and so they understand my food allergies.
9th grade is a blast! I had met with my teachers in the spring time before school ended and before school started in the fall. Every one truly understood my hidden disability and is very helpful and supportive. I really feel the leap was much easier with all my teachers understanding!
Guest Blogger Disclaimer: The information shared by the guest blogger does not represent the opinions and policies of No Nuts For My Peanuts and it's creator. As always seek proper medical attention for any issues, medicine dosage's or questions you have regarding your health and allergies. Always read labels before eating or serving any food to anyone who has food allergies.