Eczema at School

 

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When an Itchy Kid attends Pre-school, Kindy, Child Care or School we are no longer the ones in control of their care. Who will cream them, distract them from itching or prevent them from eating the wrong food? Will the other kids make fun of them because of the way they look? Will they be excluded from activities? Here are some tips that may help answer your questions and help make the days away from home smoother for our Itchy Kids and their Teachers.


Emotional Plans

There have been days when I have considered, just for a split second, that perhaps I should just keep my itchy kid at home and home school him. I only think on this for a second because I know we would end up at each others throats and it would not be healthy for either of us. At the moment my itchy kid's main motivation to go to school is lunch time and playing with his friends, which for an 8 year old boy is a pretty healthy attitude!  There will come times when you consider if sending your child out into the wilds of the school environment is wise. There seems to be so much to prepare, so many discussions to have, issues to deal with. The reality is....it's going to be fine! Your itchy kid needs to go to school like any other child and for all the same reasons. Naturally they need their education but they also need to socialise, be independent, work in groups, form relationships outside the family, learn to stay on task, stick to a routine, follow rules, have experiences and opportunities that they would not have at home.

So the first thing to do when doing the school prep is for YOU to RELAX about it. If you are anxious and fearful you can bet your child will be too. (Just between you and me if you have to fake feeling confident for your itchy kids sake then by all means go ahead and fake it). The next thing is to listen to any fears your child may express. Of course they will have the mixed feelings of excitement and worry that all kids starting school do and they will need to have their adjustment time but they may also have specific worries about their skin. These specific worries can be addressed by letting them know what the plans for care at school are and who they can go to as well as involving them in the preparations such has choosing and decorating a cream container.

Keep in mind that eczema and allergy kids DO go to school and not only do the survive, they THRIVE!

 

Action Plans

On of the very useful things to be able to give your school is an 'Action Plan' which outlines what needs to be done in certain situations in order to keep your child safe.

If your child is anaphylactic they should already have a standardised action plan completed by their doctor. The action plans we use in NZ come from the Australasian Society of Clinical Immunology and Allergy. Their website is  http://www.allergy.org.au/

http://www.allergy.org.au/content/view/10/3/ This link takes you to the various downloadable, one page action plans. There are two different plans for anaphylaxis, one for each type of auto injector as well as plans for insect bites and allergic reactions.

There are also action plans for children with eczema and an eczema care plan that you may find useful to give your school http://www.allergy.org.au/content/view/345/284/
 

Health Information

The other useful thing to provide to the school, in advance of your child starting at pre-school/school is a one page run down on their medical condition. Keep it clear and concise and to one page. This way it's more likely to actually be read and remembered. Also include a photo. It's so much easier to remember a child by sight than name when dealing with 30 kids at the beginning of a new school year.
 

Suggested heading for this 'Health Information' sheet are;
-Name/age
-Diagnosis: (severe eczema. Food and environmental allergies)
-
Treatments and medications (dot points of day to day  at home, emergency)
-
Treatments and medications required at school (assistance with creaming, inhalers)
-
Foods to avoid/Food substitutes (be sure to list all the names for the allergic food eg) dairy products, milk, milk powder, skim milk etc)
-
Activities Considerations (swimming, cooking, being in the sun)
-
Classroom Considerations (needs to be away from dusty areas, fan, window open)
 

People to Help

Public Health Nurse: You could request that the Public Health Nurse comes to do some staff training at your school. They may be able to run staff training on dealing with allergies and administering auto-injectors. They can be contacted through the Public Health Units listed on the Ministry of Health's webpage http://www.moh.govt.nz/moh.nsf/indexmh/contact-us-public-health-services

RTLB: Also from the ministry of education you can access through your school the Resource Teacher of Learning and Behaviour (RTLB) This is a visiting teacher employed by clusters of schools.They work in the school sector advising teachers on how to help students with moderate learning and behaviour difficulties. If your child's medical condition requires extra teacher/teacher aide time for things like applying cream or classroom modifications then you may be able to, with the help of the RTLB, access the School High Health Needs Fund.

Parents: Talk to other Itchy Kid parents who know what it's like. They may have some good ideas to share.


Useful sites:

These sites offer ideas and information that will help you help prepare the pre-school/school for your childs attendance.

Allergy New Zealand: Resource Order Form for Education Kits
http://www.allergy.org.nz/resources/pdfFiles/resourceEducationKits.pdf

Allergy New Zealand: Severe Allergies in Schools and Pre-schools
http://www.allergy.org.nz/shop/schools+and+pre-schools.html

Eczema in Schools. (A teachers Guide, Students guide 11-14 and 14-16)
http://www.eczema.org/


Eczema and School
http://www.netdoctor.co.uk/skin_hair/eczema_school_003753.htm


NZ Ministry of Health-"Health Conditions In Education Settings. Supporting children and young people. A Guide For Early Childhood Education Services And Schools.
http://www.minedu.govt.nz/web/downloadable/dl11787_v1/11787-word-version-of-health-guidelines.doc


NZ Ministry of Health-List of pdf files related to health issues in educational settings http://www.minedu.govt.nz/index.cfm?layout=document&documentid=11787&data=l

http://www.minedu.govt.nz/index.cfm?layout=document&documentid=11787&data=l


Hot Tip

  • I often take allergy free home baking to my son's day care to share with staff and teachers even though they do provide safe morning and afternoon teas for him. It helps him feel less isolated and different, the staff appreciate the help and my son's 'special' food is de-mystified for the other children.
     

  • Decant the child's emollient into a funky container for use at school. You can either buy an already decorated container with an acceptable character or design to suit your child's taste or buy a plain one and get the child to decorate it themselves with stickers. The pre-printed name sticker books found in bookstores are great for this as you get the bonus of it being personalised along with the design. Hopefully the "cool" non medical container  will help your child to feel less self conscious when pulling their emollient out of their school bag to apply at break times.  Younger kids, especially girls like the idea of face creams and "make-up" just like a grown up.
     

  • Prepare an 'Action' plan making sure to attach a recent, clear photo of your child on it. Even if the school has your phone contacts in other records make sure they are also clearly printed on the action plan. In an emergency it saves time to have all the info in one place.
     

  • To help the people caring for your itchy kid in your absence you could provide them with an information sheet or to keep on record. All the better if you can hand it to them laminated or in a plastic sleeve, ready to pop into the records or stick on the wall. Make sure you not only list the foods and activities you child can't have but also those that they can. Offer ideas and alternatives that may help the staff such as non-buttered pop-corn as an alternative to dairy containing cookies at school parties.
     

  • Naturally when communicating with the school do so in the spirit of a team. You and the school are working together for the well being of your child. The school does have to provide a safe environment for your child but the more help, information and support you can give them to care and educate your child the better.
     

  • Check out the Useful sites listed below for more info about planning and preparing not only yourself, your child but also the school for your child's attendance at school.