Are Food Allergies at High School High Risk?

Some of you are probably hoping to avoid the whole back to school mindset for a little while longer but I have to say that it’s been on my mind for a while. That’s because Megan is heading off to high school next year for grade 10. What compounds the normal food allergy issues is that it is a self-directed school where students work through modules and may have different schedules from each other.

This means that Megan is not attending her regular feeder high school but a magnet school where children come from all over the school district. For the first time, she will be without her regular posse of friends who have been very protective of Megan and her allergies. Further, as a self-directed school, there are not set lunch hours so we’ve already been told that kids eat everywhere and that food allergens may be difficult to monitor. The school itself is in a rural setting, about half an hour from our home by highway.

Statistically speaking, teenagers are at a higher risk of anaphylaxis than younger children. Throw in the regular teenage desire to not be different (which is often amplified for food allergic teens) and an assumption by adults that food allergic teens need to start becoming more responsible for their own safety and you can get a recipe for disaster. This is what worries me despite the fact that we know we’ve trained our child well. It’s still no guarantee, as many parents who have lost their teen allergic children can attest.

I’m not trying to be a scare monger but I’m finding this change really difficult. Even more so than when we moved to our new home here on Vancouver Island or when Megan went to junior high. Perhaps it’s a lack of control that I’m feeling, especially since it won’t be easy to just drop into the school and be as involved as I have been in the past.

On the bright side, we had to fill out a new food allergy form this summer to send into the school so I see that our school district’s food allergy policies are being followed. Megan’s epi pens are up to date and her alert bracelet is in good order. We informed the school as to her food allergies in the spring and we have another meeting at the end of August before school starts in September so we’re certainly doing all of the right things.

I’m not sure what the alternative is: home schooling, move to Antarctica or the biosphere, buy a teen size plastic bubble? We’d all be driven nuts in short order but maybe I’d sleep a little better at night.

Alana Elliott is the Founder and President of Libre Naturals (formerly Nonuttin’ Foods), a gluten free and allergy friendly food company she founded in response to her family’s many food allergies and immune disorders.  Please check out Libre Naturals at:  www.librenaturals.com