Gluten free children and their parents are justifiably concerned about the prospects of returning to school to enjoy — or detest — another year of gluten free schooling. The department stores are already conducting back-to-school sales. Now the time to begin think about the fall. Concerns are maximized when children
- are attending a school for the time,
- are attending school for the first time after their celiac diagnosis,
- arrive at that stage of life where peer relationships are very important and they dread the thought of being eccentric, unhealthy, or ‘different’ in any sense of the word.
One major concern is how to deal with class parties and other situations where the class is getting some sort of ‘treat’ that a child living gluten free can’t share. This video presents are very effective coping technique.
It is important to talk with your child’s teacher. Talk about everything that is important to you and to your child; keep in mind that your child is much more than a person whose intestines do not function properly. Leave a written reminder at the end of the conference. This link will take you to a sample letter that may be useful.
There is one phrase in this letter that I would like to call to your attention: After a gluten accident, “He will not become immediately ill, such as in a severe allergy, and will not need immediate medical treatment…” There is no need for upset the child or the teacher or yourself. I like to end discussions like the one you will have with your child’s teacher by reminding everyone (including myself) that celiac disease is the only chronic disease where where symptoms disappear completely when proper procedures are followed. If you follow the suggestions in this article, your child, his teacher and you can relax and look forward to the upcoming year.
A reminder: hand-sanitizers are used in most classrooms. Children have few if any opportunities to wash their hands. Be sure that your child (and his or her teacher) understands that hand sanitizers are a wonderful way to kill bacteria but does nothing to remove gluten or any other type of residue.
Check out my article “At Least 150 Ideas for Gluten Free School Lunches“. I still need to write an article targeting teenagers and one aimed at college students, who may be leaving home and taking full responsibility for their food intake for the first time.