Anaphylaxis at School: A Child’s Perspective

As a parent of a child with food allergies, it feels as if stress and anxiety come with the territory.   Living with the constant threat to your child’s life can feel downright debilitating at times.  Despite our relentless persistence to carry the burden on our own, the effect a food allergy diagnosis has on our child is simply unavoidable.  So what is it like to be a child living with a food allergy at school?  Earlier this month, I shared a frightening story about my son’s allergic reaction at school, and now I’d like to share what that experience was like for him.  

My Son’s Perspective

I am excited about school today because we are having a party!  My teacher tells us to clear our desks, and she hands everyone a balloon.  I get a special balloon because I am allergic to regular balloons.  Some of the other kids are goofing around by blowing up their balloons and letting them go, so they go shooting into the air.  They are not behaving safely, and my teacher doesn’t think it’s funny.  

food allergy at school and managing an allergic reaction at school

My Allergic Reaction at School

My skin is starting to itch, and my eyes are burning.  Something is wrong.  I’ve felt this before.  I raise my hand to get the teacher’s attention.  But she is busy trying to get the other kids to stop messing around.  When she sees me, she tells me to save my question for after the activity.  I don’t want to make my teacher mad at me, so I try to ignore what I’m feeling, but it only gets worse.  Now it feels like there is something stuck in my throat, and I can’t breathe.

Just then, my mom walks in the door.  She looks scared.  I don’t like it when she gets scared, but I am happy to see her!  She always keeps me safe.  Mom runs over and grabs my EpiPen from her bag and jabs it into my leg.  Some of the kids sitting next to me thought it was scary. I don’t like the other kids staring at me. I tried to be brave!  My Mom yelled at my teacher to call 9-1-1, and she moved all my friends out of the room. I know the ambulance guys were going to come in, but first, my school nurse came in, and she was freaked out! That was weird because I already had my epi shot, and my Mom was there. 

After that, we went to the hospital. Riding in the ambulance was cool – the lights and sirens were on, but I couldn’t hear it inside.  The doctors watched me and gave me more medicine. I had to get another poke for an IV. It hurt for just a second.   

The Next Day

When I went to school the next day, I was mad at my teacher.  I was following the rules by raising my hand, but she wouldn’t listen to me.  Some people don’t get my allergies, and that makes me feel alone.  The rest of the week, I washed my hands a lot!  My mom also taught me how to look for my allergens on food labels, so I triple checked the labels before I ate anything.  I usually feel really nervous for a long time after I have a reaction. My brother gets scared too. He sleeps in my bed for days after I have a reaction.  It makes me feel better when I know people are looking out for me.  

Build a Strong AllerTribe

As parents, we work tirelessly to protect or children with food allergies and prevent an allergic reaction at school or anywhere else.  There were nights I laid awake at night wondering if my child’s teacher, babysitter, coach, recess monitor, or friend will recognize the signs of anaphylaxis.  Now I don’t have to because I know my son is in the capable hands of my AllerTribe.  Our Guide to Finding Your AllerTribe course will give you the confidence to talk to your friends, family, medical, and educational teams to develop a food allergy management plan catered to your child’s needs. This ensures your child’s safety is at the forefront of everyone’s mind and allows your child to go back to simply being a kid.

The Food Allergy Institute