Al­lergy-aware kindy found

Auckland City Harbour News - - NEWS - By DANIELLE STREET

THE first day of kindy can be a daunt­ing mile­stone for many par­ents, but for the par­ents of chil­dren with se­vere al­ler­gies it can be a truly scary prospect.

For three-year-old Dy­lan Oliver, even rem­nants of peanut but­ter left on a toy he touches can trig­ger ana­phy­lac­tic shock and re­sult in a trip to the hospi­tal.

His al­ler­gies to wheat, dairy, eggs and tree nuts are so se­vere that his mother Re­becca felt un­able to take him to com­mon preschooler ac­tiv­i­ties.

Ms Oliver hopes shar­ing their story ahead of next week’s Al­lergy Aware­ness cam­paign will in­crease un­der­stand­ing of the se­ri­ous­ness of al­ler­gies.

‘‘In the last two years our big­gest chal­lenge is that when we’d go out and he would pick stuff up and put his fin­gers in his mouth,’’ she says.

‘‘He was just be­ing a nor­mal tod­dler and get­ting into ev­ery­thing.

‘‘But we haven’t been able to do nor­mal things like go­ing to play­group be­cause it was just too stress­ful.’’

How­ever, Ms Oliver wanted her son to have the ben­e­fits of so­cial­i­sa­tion and stim­u­la­tion and went in search of a child­care fa­cil­ity that could ac­com­mo­date her son’s needs.

‘‘We looked at kindies,’’ she says.

‘‘It was re­ally in­ter­est­ing be­cause I dis­cov­ered there wasn’t that much sup­port for the preschool age.’’

She found that few day­care cen­tres un­der­stood the im­por­tance

quite

a

few of hand­wash­ing af­ter meals or the wide va­ri­ety of prob­lem­atic foods.

Af­ter a lengthy hunt she dis­cov­ered a New­mar­ket-based kinder­garten that caters to sev­eral chil­dren with al­ler­gies.

She says be­fore Dy­lan’s first day last week the cen­tre cleaned ev­ery sin­gle toy, ta­ble and crayon.

The fa­cil­ity also pro­vides meals to stop sen­si­tive items be­ing brought in.

Ms Oliver says the cen­tre’s thor­ough ap­proach has in­stilled a sense of con­fi­dence about send­ing her son to day­care and it’s worth the ex­tra travel.

‘‘I think there is just go­ing to be the nor­mal par­ent/tod­dler sep­a­ra­tion anx­i­eties, rather than any al­lergy is­sues,’’ she says.

At least one in 10 ba­bies born in New Zealand will de­velop an al­lergy, ac­cord­ing to Al­lergy New Zealand.

In the school sec­tor pub­lic health nurses are avail­able to pro­vide train­ing to school staff on ana­phy­laxis and may be able to help with health­care plans for stu­dents with food al­ler­gies.

But Ms Oliver says there needs to be more sup­port in early child­care cen­tres.

Al­lergy New Zealand chief ex­ec­u­tive Penny Jor­gensen says gen­er­ally there are lim­ited re­sources avail­able to early child­hood ser­vices to help staff keep chil­dren with food al­ler­gies well and safe while in their care.

‘‘So pres­sure is often put back on par­ents to pro­vide the re­source or ac­cept the risk to their child’s health, which is un­ten­able,’’ she says.

‘‘We are con­cerned that, as a re­sult, many chil­dren with food al­ler­gies miss out on early child­hood ed­u­ca­tion and par­ents (lose) in­come be­cause they are un­able to re­turn to work,’’ Ms Jor­gensen says.

Al­lergy Aware­ness Week runs from May 13 to 19.

Photo: JA­SON OX­EN­HAM

Wel­come news: Af­ter a long search Re­becca Oliver has found a day­care cen­tre that can ac­com­mo­date her son Dy­lan’s se­vere al­ler­gies.

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