Teens in the Real World
  Food Allergies in the Real World  

Starting Middle School

Dear FAANTeen,

Can’t wait until next month for a new column? Check out the archives to tide you over.

I am starting middle school this year. What advice do you have for someone with food allergies going into a new school?

The question that you are asking is a question that I thought about daily two years ago. Like you, I also have a food allergy. I am anaphylactic to cashews. I only figured this out a couple of months before I was entering middle school. I am also anaphylactic to latex. I worried how I would function in middle school.

The biggest change that you will likely notice as you start at the new school is that you will take on more responsibility. One example of this newfound responsibility is that you must know where all of your meds are at all times. They must be accessible in case you need them.

You must have a step-by-step action plan of what to do if you come into contact with your allergen. I would make sure that your school nurse and teachers are fully aware of that plan. Have a down-to-earth conversation with your teachers about upcoming assignments and events during the year so that you can avoid any possible contact with your allergen. I'm sure that they will find an alternate way so you are not left out. Having a plan is the key to staying safe.

You also must be able to talk to your doctor freely about your allergy. Your doctor can provide your new school with the information they need about food allergies.

Finally, my biggest and last piece of advice is to never let anyone or anything make you feel different because of your allergy. In a way, your allergy is what makes you who you are, regardless of whether you want it to or not. Remember that everyone has something to deal with in their life, and yours just happens to be an allergy.

Good luck with the upcoming year.

~Josh B., age 14, allergic to cashews and latex

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The information above is not designed to take the place of a doctor’s instructions. Patients are urged to contact a doctor for specific information regarding guidelines for care.

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