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Am I Being Too Cautious?
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My 6 year old goes to a local school, and I have been told my some family members that I am being too cautious re her lunch situation. All of her other classmates eat gluten - the school menu is full of it, so, I requested that she does not have people sitting directly next to her. I do not want her to be on her own, but am also weary of the fact that kids will be kids, and I do not want her to get glutened every day at school.

 

I am so tired of being the vigilant one, and people not getting how serious it is, it is very wearing being told you are over reacting.

 

Thanks for your thoughts.

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My 6 year old goes to a local school, and I have been told my some family members that I am being too cautious re her lunch situation. All of her other classmates eat gluten - the school menu is full of it, so, I requested that she does not have people sitting directly next to her. I do not want her to be on her own, but am also weary of the fact that kids will be kids, and I do not want her to get glutened every day at school.

 

I am so tired of being the vigilant one, and people not getting how serious it is, it is very wearing being told you are over reacting.

 

Thanks for your thoughts.

I don't think so.

 

CC is not fun.

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I would not want my child isolated. :(  She would be very lonely sitting by herself.

 

If she does not eat anyone else's food or touch it, I would think she would be safe.

 

I sit next to people eating gluten and eat my food and nothing has ever happened to me.

 

I know you are worried about her safety, but if she knows not to eat anything offered to her and if she does not share her food, she should be okay.

 

My friend's celiac daughter has taken her food to school every day since she was 7 and had never had a problem.

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At the age a child goes to school they should be able to have personal boundaries. Having something like a place mat they can take along will help them to establish those boundaries for themselves at lunchtime at school. I would be honestly worried that your child will end up being picked on or even outright bullied for being the weirdo who sits alone at lunch. That aside, lunch is one of the primary social times during school and she would be made a complete outcast and prevented an opportunity to make friends by being made to sit alone. As long as she is well educated on her disease, and she should be at her age, and knows not to share food she'll be fine. And if she gets CC'd once by breaking her own rules it'll only happen once because she'll probably get sick enough to regret it.

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I encourage you to trial with her sitting with the others with minimal isolation. If those trials don't work, then you can move on to more rigid protocols.

That being said, our children were unable to make it work long term at our school in America. However, they do fine with shared eating here in Australia. I could go into the many subtle differences, but it demonstrates that supervised trials are important. And the feedback from my daughters is that being able to eat with friends at school lunch is important and generally worth the risk.

If you want to hear more specifics about our evolution of protocols, I am happy to share. But our story is generally more complex as we also have wheat allergy issues in the mix. Good luck getting her settled in school!

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I had hesitated to answer....but others have taken the same tack....you may do her a greater disservice socially then the gain physically.

you need the teachers/lunch room aide to be watchful.  What I would watch for would be the kid that would purposefully touch your kids stuff, leaving her with nothing to eat, that is why they need to be watchful.

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I went into school to observe lunch because my daughter was still getting sick.  She knew better than to eat gluten and was not getting sick during pre-school.  She was getting sick when the kids were 6/7 years old.  So during lunch the children talk with thier hands as they eat food crumbs flying and SECRETS were being told gluten sandwich in one hand and leaning close to whisper secrets covering my daughters ear with the other.  The gluten sandwich was inches from her face.

 

The solution was simple, a napkin placemat.  They had a visual personal boundary line like they had in pre-school.  See pre-school does teach kids using placemats was teaching personal space and taking of your personal property.  BFF's were sharing crumbs of gluten when they shared secrets.

 

If possible have the lunch lady explain this and maybe give all the kids a paper towel as a placemat for all the kids to eat on for a while, so they remember personal space boundaries.  A good reminder for the kids before cold and flu season.

 

Kids that are taught respectful personal space will not accept someone intentionally touching someone else's food.  (Which would leave a gluten free kid with nothing to eat.)

 

We did have a great member here that told about a kid throwing cookie bits at him during luch.  So it does depend on what the real life experience is during lunch.

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I have been to lunch with her, the seats are very close. She does have other people on the table with her, just not sat directly next to her. So she is not toally isolated, that would freak me out for sure.

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I am going in again on Friday, so will also speak to the staff. I think part of the problem is that they know she has this, and do not want to be liable for anything as well.

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I wouldn't do this with my kids, personally. I think it's more important to teach them to be their own advocates. My son can be a bit dramatic and last year ended up making a kid cry because the kid got some crumbs near his lunch. He FREAKED out about it and the kid totally panicked. It may have been a bit much, but honestly, the kids are more respectful now and he hasn't had an issue since. My daughter brings her own snack to preschool and she sits right next to her best friend and her best friend's mother worked with her to understand gluten-free (it helps that her brother has a peanut allergy) and she is now just as big an advocate for my daughter as my daughter is and harasses the other kids to wash their hands, etc, to keep her friend healthy. Kids WANT to do the right thing. Giving them the tools to do it is more powerful, IMO, than keeping our kids isolated.

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Well, I spoke with her teacher, and they want me to speak with the nurse again. They do not think the other children are mature enough to deal with personal space near her...

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Your current protocols seem reasonable to me if it is working well for everyone. How does your daughter feel about it? One problem that we had with our children sitting next to others is that new children each year would not understand the care that they needed to take when sitting next to my daughter. And while my kids are reasonable advocates for themselves, it can be very difficult to advocate well when in these situations. We eventually had to pull our children from the cafeteria because of the severity of their symptoms.

So the big question in my mind is, what does your daughter want? If she is happy now and managing symptom free, I would leave things as they are.

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Maybe they can get one of the "good kids" in her class, preferably someone she already gets along with and is friends with (so the kid isn't forced to and resent/be mean to your daughter), and have it where your daughter is always at the end of the table, so she only has one person next to her, and always that kid next to her.  Then you can acquaint that kid with all the concepts of not getting things on her that can make her sick, and she will be less isolated yet still better off than being surrounded by crumb-spewing children.  If they have round tables or a setup where  there is no end seat, maybe there can be two kids. 

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