Allergy Awareness Week 25th April – 1st May
This entry was posted on April 25, 2016.
With 50% of children suffering from allergies, it is crucial to become more familiar with allergic conditions and how to deal with sudden reactions in all areas of child care. Avoiding certain ingredients in school lesson planning for instance will reduce scenarios where any child may feel excluded. Ideally you want to provide an environment where allergy sufferers can thrive and participate in as many activities as possible.
Here are the main types of allergies to be aware of:
- Childhood Food Allergy or Food Intolerance; this can be the most common and worrying allergy for carers and sufferers. It can involved a range of reactions for each individual when consuming anything that is listed in the care plan as an allergenic for the individual. Allergic reactions can be caused by the proteins in foods. Bread can contain gluten, a protein found in wheat, barley, rye, spelt, kamut, and oats. It can also be hidden in pizza, pasta, bread, wraps, rolls, and most processed foods. There is currently no cure for food allergies. The only way to prevent a food allergy reaction from occurring is to avoid the food causing a reaction.
- Childhood Asthma; asthma causes a range of breathing problems. These include wheezing, feeling of tightness in the lungs/chest and a cough (often in the night or early morning). When extreme it can lead to an 'asthma attack'. Most will have prescribed asthma pumps in their care plan for this scenario.
- Allergic Rhinitis; this is the inflammation of the mucus membranes in the nose. Common symptoms are an itchy nose, red eyes, watery discharge from the nose and/or eyes, a blocked nose and sneezing. There are two types of allergic rhinitis: seasonal allergic rhinitis (also known as hay fever) and perennial allergic rhinitis.
- Latex Allergy; this can cause skin irritations such as rashes or swelling, breathing difficulties and rhinitis. In some extreme scenarios it can cause anaphylaxis.
- Dermatitis/ Eczema; this is a condition causing inflammation and severe skin irritation. Dry skin patches become very hot, itchy and even red and inflamed. Breaking dry skin can cause skin to bleed and weep.
- Oral Allergy Syndrome or Pollen Food Syndrome; usually affects people who are allergic to pollen from trees, grasses and weeds. Hence why they’re likely to suffer mostly in the spring/summer seasons.
- Wasp and Bee Sting; this can cuase severe pain and swelling, some people can have an allergic reaction to the sting, leading to anaphylaxis. The person will experience breathing issues with the tightening of the chest and a swelling of the tongue.
Teaching Allergy Awareness
Children are naturally inquisitive and will want to know why certain children can’t eat or try certain things or are excluded from some experiences. Circle time is a good setting to introduce a discussion on allergies. A child with allergies can be involved in sharing their experience. With greater class awareness children with allergies feel less excluded and other children learn when it is not the right time to share certain foods with other children. Children are taught to share but awareness of other children’s sensitivities will help them to think twice about sharing something potentially dangerous so they don’t feel left out. Group discussions will also help to inform and clarify how a child can self manage their intolerance also.
As children grow up they can become supportive to each other’s differences in diet and environmental sensitivities.
Things teachers and child carers can do for someone with allergies:
- Once you know every child’s sensitivities exclude all those things from class activities. Find alternatives that are natural for all to enjoy. For example; sweet potato instead of potato, gluten free bread instead of normal bread, fruits & veg all children can play and eat, milk/butter dairy free substitutions, wheat free pastas or rice, dairy & nut free chocolate or pure cacao powder, etc.
- Always check ingredients on labels! Stick to sensitive skin products.
- Avoid soaps and shaving foams for skin sensitive children.
- Use gluten free paints and glues.
- Run a gluten free class.
- Have a look at Allergy UK’s collection of safe cooking recipes, CLICK HERE.
- You could always try putting materials into zip-lock sandwich bags for the children to squish and prod without skin contact - this is a great sensory activity! An alternative is to get them to wear gloves but be aware that rubber and latex can also cause a reaction in some children.
- Keep a record of incidences where a child had a reaction to certain materials/ingredients during activities however mild. Allergy patterns can change as a child grows.
Play & Learn with Allergy Safe Products from BCreativetolearn.com
Ready Mix Paints – All our ready mix paints are gluten free, non toxic and made in the UK. This is the safest paint to use with educational art and craft activities.
Soft Dough – It’s wheat free and gluten free, soft and safe to use for children. We sell a 2.4kg tub of soft dough in 8 colours. Keep in sealed container to avoid drying out.
Have a go at our Harvest Bread Making Activity !
Soft Clay – Daz or Scola clay is a soft, easy to use air drying clay which is acid free and nontoxic.
Define your Allergy Management Protocols (School & Nursery provision)
You can download and use a free copy of the Child Allergy and Anaphylaxis Protocol here: https://www.allergyuk.org/downloads/childrens-allergy-and-anaphylaxis-protocolv3.pdf .
A specific protocol is required for each child which can be drawn up with the help of reviewing their individual care plan. It ensures that all adults caring for the child are aware of their allergies, symptoms and can help promote better understanding of the child’s needs and medical requirements.
Regular updates of this document should be made (it is recommended that this document is read by those caring for the child between 3-6 monthly periods to ensure familiarity and up-to-date appropriate care). An annual review is recommended (unless changes need to be made as suggested by the treating doctor before this date).
Here are some of the products you may need to watch out for:
- Craft Paste - This may contain wheat
- Dustless Chalk - This often contains casein (milk)
- Crayons - These can contain soy
- Papier-Mâché - This can contain wheat
- Play dough - This can contain wheat
- Finger Paints - These can contain wheat, milk, corn and oats.
- Slime and Gloop - This can contain corn
- Stickers and Sticky Tape - These can contain gluten
- Pasta used for threading and collage
It goes without saying that toddlers and young children are forever putting their fingers in their mouths so what better way to ensure peace of mind than to use products that are hypo-allergenic. Our main paint manufacturer (Brian Clegg and Scola) make certain that their products do not contain latex, nuts, wheat and gluten.
Every setting needs some play-dough! Follow this allergy-free recipe to make your own. Or if you haven't got time, click HERE to purchase our soft dough!
Gluten Free Play-dough Recipe
1 cup salt
1/2 cup cornflour
3/4 cups cold water
Optional: Natural food colouring and essential oils for a nice smell
- Pour the salt and the cornflour into a pan.
- If you are using food colouring and/or essential oil, mix a few drops into the cold water.
- Add the cold water to the cornflour and salt, and mix well.
- Heat the mixture over medium heat, stirring constantly. The mixture will thicken, starting at the bottom of the pan. Scrape the pan as you stir.
- When the play dough becomes very thick, take it off the heat and turn it onto the table or counter. Allow it to cool until you can handle it, then have your child knead the warm play dough until it’s smooth and pliable.
- When you’re finished playing with it, store it in an airtight container or zip lock bag.
Useful Contacts and Resources
- Call AllergyUK helpline on 01322 619 898
- AllergyUK on Twitter @AllergyUK1
- Government FoodIntoleranceEnquiries@foodstandards.gsi.gov.uk
- ‘10 Tips for Managing Food Allergy in Schools’ video - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FzxUd-Ey8Xo&list=UUxDOS3BJZ93NCo0erxfqElQ
- Harvest Festival Craft with soft clay