Allergy-aware kindy found
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, who first featured in the Central Leader on May 13, 2011, 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,’’ the Onehunga resident 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.
few 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 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,’’ shesays.
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.
‘‘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.’’
Allergy Awareness Week runs from May 13 to 19.
Welcome news: After a long search Rebecca Oliver has found a daycare centre that can accommodate her son Dylan’s severe allergies.