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Starting Preschool...what Precautions Do We Need To Take?

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Posted 09 August 2012 - 12:52 PM

My daughter was diagnosed in May, and will be starting preschool in September. She has a twin brother, who will be in the same class. He does not have celiac (as far as we know right now...blood test was neg, but we aren't convinced).

Anyway, I was very overwhelmed at first, but now feel like we have found a new normal at home. BUT adding preschool into the mix is starting to stress me out! She will be 4 in the fall, so this is her first year of preschool and she hasn't been in daycare, so she has pretty much been with me since being diagnosed. Since being diagnosed we have only had babysitters come to our house, and we went gluten free in the house, so we don't have to worry when she is with a babysitter. The thought of her being at preschool around gluten is making me super nervous!

We will be sending her own snacks, and she will have cupcakes in the freezer there for anytime they have treats.

What other precautions do we need to take????

Does she need her own playdough?

They have a sensory bucket that they have pasta in, and they do crafts with macaroni noodles. Does she need to stay away from all of that, or can she use it but make sure they make her wash her hands right after?

What do you do for school/preschool for your child.

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Posted 09 August 2012 - 01:17 PM

We do only food from home. The first year DS was only there 2 days a week so they just didn't do play doh when he was there. With DD last year we made it and sent it in BUT you would also need to supply the tools or they will just contaminate the play doh. Also yes, stay away from pasta art or send in safe pasta.

Good communication with the teachers is key. We have done well through 2 years of preschool with 2 kids now and one going into K now!

Good luck!
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Posted 09 August 2012 - 02:20 PM

We're in the same boat. My friends have been really good at not bringing any gluten snacks to our play dates to avoid tempting my daughter since going gluten-free. My biggest concern is that she'll want to eat the communal snack instead of the food I send for her. My daughter is only 2.5. I'm stressing too!
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Posted 09 August 2012 - 03:01 PM

We homeschool, partially because it is stressful for me to trust the other environments, partially because one of my girls had extreme separation anxiety (which has been documented in Celiac kiddos). However, we do camps. Below is the note I send before my kids go to camp:

I want to confirm that you know that x and y both have Celiac Disease.

Celiac Disease is hereditary and is not communicable. Celiac Disease is a condition that damages the lining of the small intestine and prevents it from absorbing parts of food that are important for staying healthy. The damage is due to a reaction to ingesting gluten, which is found in wheat, barley, rye, and some oats.

The best way to understand this is to think of a virus. Our immune systems are designed to kill a single virus. A crumb of gluten is enormous by comparison. The girls' immune systems won't miss a trace of gluten, and when their immune systems find gluten, it gets confused and damages their small intestine. This damage causes malabsorption and increases their risk of cancers and other autoimmune diseases.

From a practical standpoint at camp, please do the following:

1) Do not expose x and y to gluten.

2) Please have x and y wash their hands thoroughly before eating.

3) Please thoroughly wash any surface where they will work, play or eat if there is any chance gluten has touched that surface.

4) Allow x and y to use the restroom any time they request it.

5) Inform me of any exposures, concerns, or questions.

Thank you very much for taking good care of x and y, and all the children you work with.


Other facts about gluten and Celiac Disease:
Surprising places gluten is found: playdough, paper mache, lipsticks and glosses, postage stamp and envelope adhesives.
Typical places gluten is found: breads, cookies, muffins, cereals, soy sauce, pastas
1 in 133 people in the US have Celiac Disease
97% of people with Celiac Disease are undiagnosed
Symptoms of Celiac Disease vary and are not always gastrointestinal (it is a multi-system disorder often with neurological impact)
The first step in diagnosis is a simple blood test (without insurance it costs $28)
Every child in Italy is automatically screened for Celiac Disease

Places to learn more about Celiac Disease:

I've generally had very good experiences. I will say that I have come across very crumb-y areas my kids have been near at pick up time and it's been stressful. AND both kids had physical responses (got glutened) I'm assuming from that exposure.

A quick bit off topic: I have fraternal twin girls, both with Celiac. One was a clear cut Celiac case. The other never had a positive set of bloodwork! We had some heated debates, but eventually we were able to all (including the GI) get comfortable around all the evidence we have to diagnose her as Celiac also. Fast forward from that to me: I also never tested positive from a bloodwork standpoint--I also did an endoscopy and have Celiac. There are a lot of false negatives on bloodwork!
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Posted 14 August 2012 - 10:17 AM

Our son (now 3) was in preschool full time when he was diagnosed last year, and we've had a very good experience so far. I did send in a lengthy health notice that's posted in the classrooms, pasted below. I was terrified at first of him eating other children's snacks, crumbs, playdough, etc., but with good teachers it has been totally fine. I'm amazed at how quickly he learned not to share other kids' food, and he will ask us and his teachers if food is gluten free. We're very honest with him about things which seems to have helped. He moves up to the next classroom tomorrow, where they do shared snack, and we've been explaining that he'll still eat snacks that we pack from his lunchbox. Hopefully he takes it in stride...

xxx has Celiac disease, an autoimmune disorder that prevents him from being able to eat any gluten. xxx needs to avoid all gluten completely. Even a little bit could be harmful for him. If he eats it, he could feel very ill, and even if he does not feel ill, he will sustain serious damage to his small intestine. Ingesting gluten also puts him at risk for severe stomach pain, and many other serious conditions such as nutrient malabsorption, diabetes, anemia and even certain cancers.

For that reason, he needs to be very careful that nothing with gluten in it enters his mouth during meals, snacks and arts and crafts. xxx is aware of his condition, but is too young to be able to avoid gluten on his own so we need your help and cooperation to ensure that he always stays safe at school.

Gluten is a protein found in wheat, rye, and barley. It appears in most types of cookies, snack foods, breads and cereals. Gluten is also hidden in many foods not made with wheat, rye or barley. A gluten-free food such as corn chips or nuts may be processed on machinery that also processes gluten products, or gluten may be hidden in other ingredients such as flavorings (natural or artificial). Unless a product is clearly labeled Gluten Free, or weve contacted the manufacturer, it is not safe for him to eat. Gluten is also found in medicines (such as pain relievers and cold medicine) and even arts and crafts supplies.

We will send safe, gluten-free food for him each day. If there is a special occasion such as a birthday, we would appreciate knowing in advance so we can supply him with a gluten-free treat similar to what the other children are getting. Please make sure he does not eat anything that we do not supply, and if other staff are helping out in the classroom, that they know not to give him anything thats not from his lunchbox. The only exception to this rule is fresh fruit and vegetables that are cut on a clean surface; fresh fruits and vegetables do not contain any gluten. And please continue to help us to teach xxx not to trade or accept food from other children.

xxx should be very careful using play dough and finger paints for art projects and should clean his hands thoroughly afterward. If you are planning to use flour or pasta products for any project, please let us know and we may want to supply a gluten-free version for him to use on a clean surface.

If xxx does play with or eat the wrong food, please do not panic. Because celiac disease is not an allergy, he will not be in immediate danger, although he will likely experience discomfort or pain later and may sustain intestinal damage. Please take the food or product away, assure xxx that he will be okay, and let us know so that we can monitor him later that day for symptoms, and can speak to him about the mistake.

Please call us anytime with questions or concerns you may have, or let us know what we can bring into school to help xxx have a positive experience at school. Thank you very much for all of your consideration.

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