Wednesday, August 16, 2006

What to tell the school

You need to make sure everyone knows that your child cannot have gluten or casein. I do this by sending a letter to my son's school at the beginning of each school year. I update it every year. I send multiple copies so the teacher, aides, resource teachers, school nurse, principal and anyone else who may be working with Andy can have a copy.

Ideas for your letter can be gotten from a wonderful book (which I suggest you buy for lots of reasons) : Special Diets for Special Kids by Lisa Lewis, Ph.D. Dana also has suggestions for how to approach schools on her website (link in the links section).

I approach it from a celiac point of view. My child is documented to have celiac and a dairy allergy and I have medical documentation so I use that. If you do not have that documentation - you will want to read the sample letters in Lisa Lewis' book for ideas. I have not yet revised my letter for 1st grade which starts in a few weeks - I will have to eliminate some of the candy choices off of the list because Andy got 8 caps on his teeth in the past year (because I would not let them put mercury fillings in and that was our only other choice) and he cannot have any gummy candy that can pull the caps off.

Here is the actual letter I sent to his school at the start of Kindergarten last year:

Dear Somerset Elementary Staff,

In addition to his autism, Andrew has celiac disease and also a dairy allergy. It is very important that we carefully screen the foods that he eats. Consumption of gluten may make him sick as well as increase his risk of developing cancer and diabetes. Even a little bit is too much; we cannot allow him to have any gluten. If he gets dairy, he will develop a very itchy rash, so we also want to avoid that. We do have medical documentation of these conditions.

I will provide him with snacks and a bag lunch from home. If you would desire, I can provide a couple of bulk snacks to keep on hand for use as edible reinforcers or as needed. Please let me know if you would like me to do that.

I will need advance notice of any school projects involving food so I can OK the use or provide substitutions for him to use. I will also need to know if those projects involve eating the food or simply using them for art projects. I will also provide you a list of acceptable foods so if you have an unexpected treat comes in, you can easily check and see if it is OK.

A lot of school materials such as play dough and finger paints have gluten in them. We would ask that you help Andrew thoroughly wash his hands after he has touched such items so that he doesn’t get gluten from his hands. We do not have a problem with him handling such items, we have them at home – we just ask that you help him wash up after to make sure that all of the gluten is washed off – he washes his hands pretty good, but he needs help using a nail brush – and using a nail brush is necessary to remove the gluten that may be hiding under his fingernails.

I know that you will help us keep Andrew on this strict regimen. Though it seems hard, Andrew is pretty accepting of his diet. We’re counting on your help, and appreciate your support!

I have enclosed multiple copies of this letter and food list so that all appropriate staff can have a copy of it.


Kathleen and Dan Fischbach

Foods that Andy can eat on the GF/CF Diet:
Fresh fruit
Fresh vegetables
Dried fruit (without sulfites)
Coconut (without sulfites)
Potato chips (READ labels – cannot have flavors that contain dairy products)
Popcorn (not buttered)
Rice cakes
Rice crackers
Fresh meat, poultry, and fish
Rice and rice products
Popsicle (read labels, not if they are creamscicles or have dairy in them)
Jell-O (avoid any red in color that may contain red 40)
Plain corn chips and tortilla chips (none with flavorings)
Soy Yogurt
Soy Milk
Tofutti brand Ice Cream Substitutes – Vanilla

Foods Andy cannot have on a GF/CF Diet:
Dairy Products
Milk (unless it is soy or potato based, Rice Milk contains barley and is a no-no)
Half and Half
Cottage Cheese
Cream Cheese
Yogurt (unless is it soy yogurt)
Sour Cream
Ice Cream
Any cheeses
Anything with casein or caseinate on the label
Milk chocolate (and anything made with milk chocolate)
Bread, cake and cookies, unless they are marked as GF/CF
Regular Wheat Pasta
Baking powder
Soy sauce
Bouillon cubes or powder
Artificial colors (especially Red 40)
Regular Crackers
Pretzels (unless they are GF)

Candy that Andy can have:
Star Burst (but not the fruit twist ones)
Sweet Tarts
Nerds (avoid the red ones)
Bottle Caps (avoid the red ones)
Laffy Taffy (avoid red if possible)
Fruit Snacks
Fruit Roll Ups
Most Lollipops (not tootsie pops)
Double Bubble Bubble Gum
Junior Mints (although he doesn’t really like chocolate)
Spree Candies
Gob Stoppers
Pixy Stix
All Mike & Ike Candies
Jolly Rancher Jelly Beans
Jolly Rancher hard candies (although Andy choked on one once and now avoids them)
Charms Pops
Dum Dums

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