Discover the Positive Effects of Yoga

At this year’s FARE National Food Allergy Conference, teens with food allergies participated in a 90 minute yoga workshop learning how to enhance their quality of life and experience the mind-body connection. The workshop was led by Kristen Kauke, a licensed clinical social worker and 200-hour registered yoga teacher who teaches yoga weekly. Kristen’s two sons have food allergies, and Kristen also lives with food allergies herself, so she has a wealth of experience in coping with anxiety and living well with food allergies.

We asked Kristen to give us a recap of the mental and physical exercises that she led the group through during her workshop, as well as provide us with information on the positive effects of yoga.

kaukeyoga

By Kristen Kauke

Drawing on my knowledge of psychosocial principles, empirically based treatment modalities, group processes, yoga, and overall wellness, during this workshop I helped teens to quiet their minds, gain awareness of their body, and learn tools for coping with stress and regulating emotions. Research shows that stressors associated with managing life-threatening food allergies can have a negative impact on quality of life. Research also demonstrates that yoga is associated with a decrease in symptoms of anxiety and depression, and an increase in self-compassion. As the body and mind relax and release through breath and vinyasa (flow of postures), so do pent-up emotions and traumatic memories. This workshop allowed teens to experience such positive outcomes of yoga.

During this transformational workshop, I introduced teens to the connection between thoughts, actions and feelings. I call the negative cycle “the Bermuda Triangle” where catastrophic thoughts exacerbate anxious feelings and reinforce protective actions. In exploring the “Bermuda Triangle,” teens shared common anxious thoughts about living with food allergies such as “I’m not in control,” or “Sometimes I’m afraid I might die.” Teens noted correlating feelings such as anxiety, sadness, annoyance, or flabbergasted. And they identified typical protective actions such as isolating or being shaky. I challenged the teens to consider more ideal patterns of thoughts, feelings and actions in living with food allergies. These included more optimistic thoughts, feelings of safety and calm, and actions such as connection with others. I emphasized how changing thoughts changes feelings.

Then I led teens through the action of a gentle yoga flow. In this manner, teens experienced relaxation of the body, and consequently, a shift in baseline feeling. I highlighted how in using an action such as yoga, they could tolerate and even soften feelings.

Finally, through an experiential activity called “Being Willingly Out of Breath,” teens learned about parts of their Self, as well as applied tools to observe thoughts, tolerate emotions in times of stress, and listen to their inner wisdom.

Teens shared freely, laughed, and gained insight. They moved and stretched themselves both physically and emotionally. In the end, they learned that they DO have control over their wellbeing and can utilize tools to achieve calm despite living with food allergies.

Another important takeaway is that any BODY can do yoga! Yoga is for athletes and those who only run when being chased, super bendy people and those who can’t touch their toes, teenagers and silver-haired folk, women and men! Yoga offers something for everyone! If you’ve never practiced before, it’s best to take a class with a qualified teacher or follow a video. There are many different styles of yoga from restorative to powerful. However, the following are some simple and relaxing poses you might enjoy at home:

3 Part/Elevator breath – why and how

Beginning any yoga practice with a centering breath is of utmost of importance. When the breath slows, the thoughts follow. Diaphragmatic breathing signals the relaxation response in the central nervous system. One of my favorite breath exercises is the “elevator” or “3 part breath.”

To begin, exhale!

Then begin to inhale from the low belly and stop at “floor 1.” Pause. Inhale more to mid-belly or “floor 2.” Pause. Inhale to upper chest or “floor 3.” Pause. Then exhale slowly, contracting belly towards spine, tucking pelvis and lengthening spine until empty, or back to “floor 1.”

Begin again and repeat the cycle two more times.

Neck – why and how

We hold a ton of stress and tension in our necks! When our neck and jaw remain tense, it sends a signal to the central nervous system that we are in danger. This signal activates and maintains the stress response. To achieve consistent peace, we are wise to mind our necks!

Sit in a comfortable cross-legged position. Being by inhaling and simultaneously raising the right hand.  As you exhale, bend the right hand over the top of your head and pull down on your ear, moving ear towards right shoulder. Continue to inhale and exhale for three cycles. Then scooch your right hand to the base of your neck. Gently pull down on the base of your neck so your chin eases down and angles towards your right knee. Inhale and exhale for three cycles.

Release your right hand and allow your right palm to press into your forehead, easing your head back to center.

Repeat this process with your left hand over your right ear. First, left ear to shoulder. Then base of neck towards left knee.

Legs up the wall – why and how

If you’re only going to do one yoga pose, this is it!  This pose is like getting an oil change for all your internal systems. Besides increasing strength and flexibility, you reap cardiovascular benefits; you reverse the effects of gravity. This pose balances hormones, increases immunity, soothes the nervous system, and aids digestion and restful sleep.

To begin, scooch your right thigh and glut against the wall. Then shift your legs up, back down. Center your legs against the wall and align hips square.  Allow spine and neck to lengthen and rest on the floor.  Breathe your 3 part breath, allowing spine to sink to the floor, heart to lift with inhalation.  Hold legs up the wall for 3-10 minutes, with increasing amounts each trial.

Thank you to Kristen for providing this summary! We hope those of you reading at home will try some of her sample yoga exercises. For more content from Kristen, you can view a webinar she presented on the topic of “Dating and Intimacy Challenges Associated with Having Severe Food Allergies” on FARE’s website

FARE Membership: Join Us

Stand with us to make the world safer and more inclusive for individuals with food allergies! Being a member of FARE entitles you to some great member benefits, such as registration discounts to Teen Summit and our National Food Allergy Conference, a fantastic discount on a subscription to Allergic Living magazine, and advanced registration for our monthly educational webinars. But membership is about so much more than benefits.

Debbie Jacobs, of Potomac, Md., expressed this sentiment perfectly:

“Since she was a baby and my husband first found FAAN online and called to double-check what turned out to be erroneous advice from our pediatrician, FAAN and now FARE, has been there for our family. I can’t think of a single organization (or company) that has had such a direct and positive impact on our family than FAAN/FARE.  We have been members for 16 years and even if my daughter outgrew all of her allergies, we would continue as members just to show our support for an organization that has done so much for families with food allergies. The advocacy on food labeling laws alone would justify all of our annual dues! Now, that my daughter will be going away to college, it is great to see that FARE has taken such an active role in making colleges safe for students with food allergies. It seems that FARE is growing right along with our daughter, and it is my hope that as an adult she will continue to look to FARE for advice and support.”

Visit www.foodallergy.org/membership and join FARE today!

A New Look at Food Allergy Bullying

In a study published in Pediatrics in 2012, researchers from the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai (New York, NY) surveyed 251 families to determine the prevalence and impact of bullying on children with food allergies, aged 8-17. They reported that more than one third of children and teens were bullied specifically because of their food allergies, usually by their classmates. A year later, the same research team conducted a follow-up study recently published in The Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology: In Practice to learn whether the bullying continued and whether specific strategies led to a reduction in bullying.

Of the 124 families who participated in the second survey, 29 percent reported that their children were bullied because of their food allergies – a similar rate to what was reported in the first study. Thirty-four percent of these children were bullied “frequently” – more than twice a month. Sixty-nine percent of the children who reported being bullied in the first study said that the bullying continued. Bullying lessened for 31 percent of the children. Not surprisingly, when bullying resolved, quality of life improved.

Simply talking about bullying with parents did not improve a child’s quality of life. The most successful strategies were parental intervention with the help of school personnel or, less frequently, with the help of the bully’s parents. Based on the results of this and other studies, the researchers recommend that physicians ask parents and children about bullying during office visits. If a child is being bullied, parents should address the issue with school personnel.

Watch FARE’s Food Allergy Bullying: “It’s Not a Joke” PSA:

Find more resources on food allergy bullying on FARE’s website>

You Might Live With Food Allergies If …

curtis_sittenfeld_fare_conferenceLast month, attendees at the first FARE National Food Allergy Conference were treated to a heartfelt, warm and witty keynote speech, “Finding Your Food Allergy Voice,” by bestselling author Curtis Sittenfeld, whose daughter has food allergies.

Curtis’s riff on comedian Jeff Foxworthy’s popular “You Might Be a Redneck” routine was met with appreciative laughs. With many food allergy parents exchanging knowing glances at some of the familiar scenarios Curtis mentioned, we were not surprised we received requests to reprint her speech. We are happy to share this excerpt from Curtis’s speech.

  • You Might Live With Food Allergies If … you develop a strategy for attending a four-year-old’s birthday party with the same precision you’d use to invade a small country.
  • You Might Live With Food Allergies If … you’ve ever been with a group of people singing Take Me Out to the Ballgame and you’ve wondered what you should do when they get to the line “Buy me some peanuts and cracker jacks…” Should you keep singing? Should you go silent? Should you hum?
  • You Might Live With Food Allergies If … someone says milk, and you think, “Can you be more specific? Like cow milk? Almond milk? Soy milk? Hemp milk? Rice Milk?”
  • You Might Live With Food Allergies If … you’ve ever worried about what will happen when your child attends a slumber party … and she’s 2!
  • You Might Live With Food Allergies If … if you’ve ever worried about what will happen when your child goes to college … and he’s 9!
  • You Might Live With Food Allergies If … you’ve ever accidentally lost weight.
  • You Might Live with Food Allergies If … your greatest fear on Halloween is not witches, zombies, ghouls, or haunted houses.
  • You Might Live With Food Allergies If … you’ve ever wondered if your child has food allergies either because you did fill-in-the-blank or because you did the opposite of fill-in-the-blank. Like, is it because you ate TOO MANY shrimp when you were pregnant? Or is because you didn’t eat ENOUGH shrimp?
  • You Might Live With Food Allergies If … you’ve ever been given extensive advice about how to handle food allergies by people WITHOUT medical degrees.
  • You Might Live With Food Allergies If … before leaving home, you think to yourself: Keys, cell phone, sunglasses, wallet, epinephrine.
  • You Might Live With Food Allergies If … you’ve ever stood inside a grocery store, reading ingredients on a package and thinking, wait, tricalcium phosphate—that doesn’t have milk in it, right? Thank goodness for smartphones, huh?
  • You Might Live With Food Allergies If … you’ve ever been to a party where the hosts tells you there won’t be any nuts in the food and what they mean is BESIDES the cashews in the pasta salad and the walnuts in the cookies. But yeah, besides that, there won’t be any nuts.
  • You Might Live With Food Allergies If … you’ve ever been at a playground where someone’s else toddler was staggering around with a baggie of crackers and you’ve watched him as intently as if you were on a criminal stake-out.
  • You Might Live With Food Allergies If … you’re not that into Martha Stewart or Rachael Ray but you just love Kelly Rudnicki and Cybele Pascal.
  • You Might Live With Food Allergies If … you’re no longer on speaking terms with at least one blood relative either because they think you take food allergies too seriously, or because you think they don’t take them seriously enough. (An alternative to this is, if you wish you were no longer on speaking terms with at least one blood relative)
  • You Might Live With Food Allergies If … you’ve ever made a recipe from a vegan cookbook because it avoids milk and eggs but then you’ve added real bacon to it. I’m speaking from personal experience with that one—I have some great vegan cookbooks and I’ve thought to myself ‘I wonder if the person who wrote this would understand that I’m working within certain restrictions or if they’d just think I’m a corrupt, disgusting carnivore.’ We’ll save that question for another day.

Do you have your own “You Might Live With Food Allergies If …” to share? Post yours in the comment area!

Thank you, Curtis, for a great speech in Chicago and for granting permission to reprint excerpts here! 

2014 Regional Food Allergy Conferences

In 2014, FARE provided funding for five regional conferences, which are managed by local support groups and volunteers. These events are made possible though FARE’s Community Outreach Grants Program, which gave nearly $23,000 in support to these important education and community gatherings. If one of these events is in your area, we encourage you to attend!

 

Michigan Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis Conference

Saturday, Aug 9, 8 am
Kresge Hall Auditorium
Madonna University
Livonia, MI

http://www.foodallergymiconference.com

 

NY/NJ Food Allergy Education Conference

Sunday, Sept 14, 9 am–12 pm
Saddle Brook Marriott
Saddle Brook, NJ

http://www.tinyurl.com/FARENJ

 

Utah Food Allergy Conference

Saturday, Nov 15, 2 pm
University Guest House Hotel
Salt Lake City, UT

http://www.utahfoodallergy.org

 

Washington FEAST Regional Conference

Fall 2014 (date and location TBA)
Washington State

http://www.wafeast.org

 

Eosinophilic Esophagitis in the Spectrum of Food Allergy

Saturday, Nov 15
ForeFront Conference Center
Waltham, MA

EGID@childrens.harvard.edu

The next FARE National Food Allergy Conference will be held in Long Beach, CA on May 16-17, 2015. Save the date!

2014 FARE Vision Award Winners

The FARE Vision Awards take their name from FARE’s vision statement, which is to make the world safe for people with food allergies. These awards recognize individuals and entities who work to make that vision a reality, and who support FARE in its mission to find a cure for food allergies and to keep individuals with food allergies safe and included.

Our 2014 award winners have gone above and beyond in their efforts to support the food allergy community, and they are truly leaders in making a difference for everyone who is living with food allergies. Awards were presented at the FARE National Food Allergy Conference on Saturday, June 21, 2014.

awards winners with adrian

Pictured from left to right: FARE’s CEO John Lehr; FARE Vision Award Recipient for Outstanding Community Citizen, Anne Thompson; FARE Vision Award Recipient for Outstanding Corporate Citizen, Siobhan Cavanaugh accepting for Mylan Specialty; and pro football player and Mylan Specialy spokesperson Adrian Peterson

Vision Award for Outstanding Corporate Citizen 
Presented to a corporation that has made a positive impact in the lives of people with food allergies and supported the food allergy community through a partnership with FARE.

Presented to Mylan Specialty

mylanlogo

 

 

Through its work and actions, Mylan Specialty has shown its commitment to the food allergy community by helping people live well with food allergies, promoting positive change on behalf of the community, and otherwise supporting the development of a safer world for people with food allergies.

Our 2014 honoree has been a leader in supporting transformative programs focused on increasing anaphylaxis awareness, preparedness and access to treatment for those affected by life-threatening allergies. FARE has been proud to partner with Mylan Specialty on a wide-range of education and awareness initiatives, including this, our first FARE National Food Allergy Conference, for which Mylan is the presenting sponsor. Mylan also is the national presenting sponsor for the FARE Walk for Food Allergy program, which takes place in more than 60 cities nationwide to raise awareness and critical funds to fulfill FARE’s mission. Last year’s walks raised a record $3.6 million to support food allergy research, education, advocacy and awareness programs. Mylan also regularly supports annual programs such as our Teen Summit and the meeting of the International Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis Alliance.

In just this past year, Mylan’s support has made possible several special projects that have advanced the cause of the food allergy community. These include:

  • The documentary “An Emerging Epidemic: Food Allergies in America,” which was produced and distributed by the Discovery Channel in partnership with FARE, and
  • The creation of our new comprehensive educational tool called Your Food Allergy Field Guide, which is designed to help families transition from a new food allergy diagnosis to living well with food allergies. In less than six months, thanks to grants from Mylan and other supporters, FARE was able to distribute more than 100,000 free printed copies of the Field Guide to allergists nationwide to provide to their patients with food allergy, and to create a free digital version on our website.

In addition to these great programs, Mylan has also worked to increase awareness through its Anaphylaxis 101 and Ready2Go campaigns, and to improve access to epinephrine auto-injectors through its EpiPen4Schools and $0 Co-Pay programs. And, as makers of the EpiPen, they are a daily presence in the lives of millions of Americans who are prepared to respond to anaphylactic emergencies.

Vision Award for Outstanding Community Citizen
Presented to an individual volunteer who has gone above and beyond to support FARE and its mission, dedicating herself to educating others and advocating for the cause.

Presented to Anne Thompson

annthompson

Anne has been a passionate advocate and volunteer for FARE and the food allergy community for nearly two decades. When her son Andrew was diagnosed with life-threatening food allergies two decades ago, very little information was available. In 1997, Anne co-founded one of the first food allergy support groups in the country–Mothers of Children Having Allergies, better known as MOCHA, here in Chicago. Since then, Anne has mentored, counseled and taught hundreds, if not thousands, of other families who are struggling with the daily challenges and anxiety of living with food allergies. In fact, families across the country have benefitted from Anne and Andrew’s story through their participation in the 2013 documentary “An Emerging Epidemic: Food Allergies in America,” which was produced by the Discovery Channel in partnership with FARE.

As an advocate, Anne was instrumental in getting District 39, in Wilmette, Illinois, to be among the first school districts in the nation to adopt progressive policies in food allergy safety and inclusion. This policy served as a model for statewide guidelines and later national guidelines. She was also active in advocacy efforts that led to Illinois allowing all emergency response personnel to carry epinephrine auto-injectors, and played an important role in the passage of legislation allowing higher education institutions in Indiana to stock epinephrine.

Anne, along with her MOCHA co-founder Denise Bunning, also helped to launch the first Walk for Food Allergy, which was held in Chicago in 2004. Most recently, Anne’s experiences in helping Andrew navigate his first two years at Purdue University have made Anne a leading authority in the management of food allergies in higher education. Anne has dedicated countless hours and her expertise in this arena to helping FARE develop its new FARE College Food Allergy Program, which was launched in January, and she continues to be involved in its implementation. Anne’s service on behalf of FARE and the food allergy community also includes her current positions on FARE’s Support Group Leader Executive Council as well as on our Advocacy Leadership Council.

Vision Award for Outstanding Fundraising Achievement
Presented to an individual or a group of individuals who have gone above and beyond to raise
critical funds to support FARE and its mission.

Presented to Abbey Braverman, Roxanne Palin and Stephanie Winston Wolkoff

fundraising award

The co-chairs of the FARE New York Spring Luncheon, Abbey Braverman, Roxanne Palin, and Stephanie Winston Wolkoff, are dedicated mothers of children with food allergies. Thanks to their commitment and hard work, the luncheon, which was first held 15 years ago with just over 100 attendees, has become a high-profile event in New York City that attracts more than 700 guests each year and raised $1 million in 2014.

The luncheon’s goals are to raise funds to advance FARE’s mission and to educate and engage supporters. The co-chairs have brought great spirit and energy to helping FARE exceed these goals each year, while creating a fun and festive environment that inspires attendees to become more involved in our cause.

In addition to building a strong base of loyal supporters who return – and bring new supporters – year after year, the luncheon has helped raise awareness of the seriousness of food allergies and anaphylaxis, and highlights FARE’s work through features and interviews in the tri-state media. It has also helped FARE build mutually beneficial relationships with allergy friendly companies.

Founder’s Award
Presented to a public figure or group of public figures who have greatly advanced the vision of a safer world for individuals with food allergies through significant public action.

Presented to U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL), U.S. Sen. Mark Kirk (R-IL), U.S. Rep. Phil Roe (R-TN)
and U.S. Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-MD), original sponsors of the School Access to Emergency
Epinephrine Act, which was signed into law on November 13, 2013.

In this – the inaugural year of the Founder’s Award– we are pleased to present it to four of our nation’s legislative leaders who are also champions of the food allergy community.

Last year, Senators Dick Durbin and Mark Kirk and Representatives Phil Roe and Steny Hoyer sponsored and successfully passed the School Access to Emergency Epinephrine Act – which was signed into law by President Obama on November 13, 2013. That law incentivizes states to require the stocking of emergency epinephrine in their schools.

Because of their dedication and dogged commitment to the cause of safety and inclusion for children with food allergies, more states have adopted stock epinephrine laws and more lives will be saved because of their leadership.

Congratulations and thank you to all of our 2014 Vision Award winners!

Food Allergy Action Month Highlights

For the first time,FARE expanded Food Allergy Awareness Week in 2014 by declaring the entire month of May as Food Allergy Action Month. We would like to thank all of you who contributed by taking action – whether it was educating others about food allergies and life-threatening anaphylaxis, making a donation, signing up for a FARE Walk for Food Allergy, advocating on behalf of the 15 million Americans with food allergies, or wearing teal. We were thrilled to see many wonderful photos of people and pets rocking their teal for our #TealTakeover – be sure to check out our photo album on Storify!

Highlights of our first Food Allergy Action Month included:

  1. Thirty-four states and the District of Columbia issued Food Allergy Awareness Week proclamations, and U.S. Rep. Steve Israel (D-NY) introduced a resolution into Congress.
  2. The incredible mom-daughter duo of “Fashion by Mayhem” raised awareness and funds for FARE with their first dress auction. The dress sold for $355 – a generous donation for a dress made from paper and packaging tape!
  3. FARE’s Twitter chat (#FAREChat) provided answers to questions submitted by the community about food allergies and anaphylaxis from Drs. Ruchi Gupta and Wayne Shreffler.
  4. Terminal Tower in downtown Cleveland was lit teal on May 12 and the Duke Energy Center in Charlotte, NC was lit teal on May 18.
  5. Food allergy musician Kyle Dine joined in our #TealTakeover and sang at the Food Allergy Education Network’s annual Dance-A-Thon in Connecticut; his performance was sponsored by FARE as part of our Community Outreach Grants Program.
  6. Recipe Rehab, a competition cooking show, featured a family managing food allergies in an episode sponsored by FARE.
  7. Students in schools across the country dressed in teal and helped educate their peers about food allergies through presentations and by reading facts over the school public address systems.
  8. Numerous media outlets featured stories about Food Allergy Action Month and Food Allergy Awareness Week, including The Huffington PostCharlotte ObserverSalt Lake Tribune, and About.com.
  9. A 100-ft-long soy nut butter and jelly sandwich was constructed in the Chicago area to bring the community together and highlight the issue of food allergies.
  10. FARE’s “Give $15 on the 15th” campaign received great support from the food allergy community in honor of the 15 million Americans with food allergies.

It truly has been a tremendous month, but in order to make a real and lasting difference, we need each member of the food allergy community to continue taking action on behalf of those with food allergies beyond just the month of May. Check out our Action Challenge List for suggested actions you can take throughout the year to make an impact!

Food Allergy Action Challenge – Make Your List!

walkvolunteer

We are grateful for and inspired by the food allergy community’s efforts during FARE’s first Food Allergy Action Month to take action and raise awareness of food allergies and anaphylaxis. Food Allergy Action Month was a huge success, and now it’s time to take it to the next level!

You can join us in making a real and lasting difference year-round by creating your own Food Allergy Action Challenge!  Here’s how you do it: make a list of ways that you want to make an impact and schedule them each month throughout the year. Check out our sample Food Allergy Action Challenge list below for ideas on how to get started! We’ve provided some ideas here to get you started – one for each month leading up to next year’s awareness week!

FARE Food Allergy Action Challenge 2014-2015
June 2014 Continue learning about food allergies by attending the FARE National Food Allergy Conference and our free educational webinars, or viewing an archived webinar.
July 2014 Sign up for a FARE Walk for Food Allergy, recruit others to join you, and set a fundraising goal. You can also find other events in your region by connecting with your FARE Regional Office.
August 2014 During Back to School season you can help spread the word about the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention’s, “Voluntary Guidelines for Managing Food Allergies in Schools and Early Care and Education Programs.” Find out how on our blog.
September 2014 Connect with others by joining a support group, and work with other local food allergy families or hosting a presentation at your school or office.
October 2014 Share our SafeFARE flyer with restaurants in your area to encourage them to get allergen-trained and added to our database.
November 2014 Learn about FARE’s strategic plan for research. If you or your child is interested in participating in a clinical trial, sign up for ResearchMatch.
December 2014 Join our Advocates Network to make your voice heard on federal and state legislation.
January 2015 Create your own fundraiser. From participating in athletic challenges to having a lemonade stand in your front yard, there are lots of ways to create a fundraising event to help raise funds for food allergy research, education, advocacy and awareness programs. Your event will not only support FARE’s mission, it will spark a conversation about food allergies, giving you an opportunity to educate others in your community.
February 2015 Spread the word on social media by sharing facts and resources like our infographic, Discovery Channel documentary, “An Emerging Epidemic: Food Allergies in America,”  and food allergy bullying “It’s Not a Joke” PSA.
March 2015 Become a FARE member. Every new member makes a difference and helps us turn up the volume on critical food allergy issues.
April 2015 Plan ahead for the next Food Allergy Awareness Week and Food Allergy Action Month. Putting up posters, making a presentation, or planning a awareness or fundraising event are just some of the ways you can help support the food allergy cause. Prep ahead by downloading our free resources.

Thank you again for your support of FARE and efforts to raise awareness and take action last month! We look forward to continuing to build momentum throughout the year to make the world a better place for all those with food allergies.

Meet Pete Wright: Attorney and Workshop Leader at FARE’s National Food Allergy Conference

The FARE National Food Allergy Conference is quickly approaching, and we are excited this year to have Pete Wright, nationally known attorney and co-founder of Wrightslaw.com, joining us on Sunday, June 22, to lead “From Emotions to Advocacy: An Expert’s Guide to Safety and Inclusion for You Child At School.” During this 5-hour, hands-on workshop, parents of children with food allergies will learn practical strategies and tips for working with school personnel to ensure their child’s safety and inclusion at school.

Pete was featured in a special “Ask the Expert” web series in fall 2012, answering questions from FARE members about Section 504 plans. Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 is a federal law designed to protect the rights of individuals with disabilities in programs and activities that receive federal financial assistance from the U.S. Department of Education. We’ve reprinted excerpts from this feature below.

The 2014 FARE National Food Allergy Conference will be held June 21-22 at the Hyatt Regency O’Hare in Rosemont, Ill. and will feature dozens of world-class experts and panelists providing practical tips and resources for living well with food allergies. Don’t miss this chance to learn from leading food allergy experts – register and reserve your place in the “From Emotions to Advocacy” workshop today.


 

Pete WrightI recently read about the Office of Civil Rights April 23, 2012 resolution of a case involving an Individualized Health Care Plan (IHCP) in the Memphis, TN schools. Their press release stated that:  “If a student currently has an IHCP, the district will provide parents or guardians with information regarding the student’s possible rights to evaluation, placement, and procedural safeguards. An IHCP for a student who has a qualifying disability is insufficient if it does not incorporate these rights.” Does this mean that if a student is considered disabled and needs aides, services, or accommodations, that a 504 plan is the way to document what is needed to allow a food allergic child access to a FAPE (Free Appropriate Public Education)?

If a child has a disability as defined by either the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA 2004), Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act or the Americans with Disabilities Act, Amended Act of 2008 (ADA AA), and needs “aides, services, or accommodations,” the child should have either an Individualized Education Plan (IEP) or a Section 504 Plan, dependent upon the nature of the disability. Per the question, if the disability is solely limited to a food allergy, then an IEP would not be appropriate, but a Section 504 is appropriate.

It is important for parents to understand that an IHCP is not an agreement that provides specific rights and procedural safeguards, but instead is more akin to a nursing care plan.

The concept of an IHCP is not recognized in or created by the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA 2004), Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act or the Americans with Disabilities Act, Amended Act of 2008 (ADA AA). Each of the three statutes do provide procedural safeguards for the student. An IHCP does not provide any procedural safeguards for the student. If an IHCP is created, to obtain the rights and protections of the preceding statutes, it should be attached to and incorporated by reference into either an IEP or a Section 504 Plan and considered as a part of the IEP or Section 504 Plan.

The ADA was revised in 2008 as the result of two U. S. Supreme Court cases that had narrowed the definition of those eligible for protections under the ADA. The 2008 “Amendments Act” has substantially broadened eligibility, thus gutting the impact of those two prior cases. That expansion applies to Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act. Thus a child found ineligible for either an IEP or a Section 504 plan in 2007 may today, because of the change in the law, be eligible.

The Office of Civil Rights issued a FAQ monograph that addresses the ADA AA, Section 504 and IHCPs. It is titled “Questions and Answers on the ADA Amendments Act of 2008 for Students with Disabilities Attending Public Elementary and Secondary Schools.”

The critical questions are 4, 5, 11, 12 and 13.

Below I have copied and pasted those questions and portions of their answers. I provided the complete answers to Questions 12 and 13. The bold emphasis was added by me.

Q4. How does the Amendments Act alter coverage under Section 504 and Title II?

A: The Amendments Act emphasizes that the definition of “disability” in Section 504 and the ADA should be interpreted to allow for broad coverage. Students who, in the past, may not have been determined to have a disability under Section 504 and Title II may now in fact be found to have a disability under those laws. A student whom a school district did not believe had a disability, and therefore did not receive, as described in the Section 504 regulation, special education or related services before passage of the Amendments Act, must now be considered under these new legal standards . . .

Q5: Should a school district revise its policies and procedures regarding the determination of coverage and provision of services under Section 504 and Title II?

A: Yes, if those policies and procedures do not implement the Amendments Act’s new legal standards. As noted above, the definition of disability is to be interpreted broadly, so determining whether one has a disability should not demand extensive analysis, and the determination shall be made without regard to the ameliorative effects of mitigating measures . . .

Q11: What must a school district do for a student who has a disability but does not need any special education or related services?

A: As described in the Section 504 regulation, a school district must conduct an evaluation of any individual who, because of a disability, needs or is believed to need special education or related services, and must do so before taking any action with respect to the initial placement of the person in regular or special education or any significant change in placement. 34 C.F.R. § 104.35(a). If, as a result of a properly conducted evaluation, the school district determines that the student does not need special education or related services, the district is not required to provide aids or services. Neither the Amendments Act nor Section 504 obligates a school district to provide aids or services that the student does not need. But the school district must still conduct an evaluation before making a determination. Further, the student is still a person with a disability, and so is protected by Section 504′s general nondiscrimination prohibitions and Title II’s statutory and regulatory requirements. See 28 C.F.R. § 35.130(b); 34 C.F.R. §§ 104.4(b), 104.21-23, 104.37, 104.61 (incorporating 34 C.F.R. § 100.7(e)).

For example, suppose a student is diagnosed with severe asthma that is a disability because it substantially limits the major life activity of breathing and the function of the respiratory system. However, based on the evaluation, the student does not need any special education or related service as a result of the disability. This student fully participates in her school’s regular physical education program and in extracurricular sports; she does not need help administering her medicine; and she does not require any modifications to the school’s policies, practices, or procedures. The school district is not obligated to provide the student with any additional services. The student is still a person with a disability, however, and therefore remains protected by the general nondiscrimination provisions of Section 504 and Title II.

Q12: Should school districts conduct FAPE evaluations as described in the Section 504 regulation for students who, prior to the Amendments Act, had health problems but might not have been considered persons with a disability?

A: The answer depends upon whether, because of the health problem, that student has a disability and, because of that disability, needs, or is believed to need, special education or related services. A medical diagnosis alone does not necessarily trigger a school district’s obligation to conduct an evaluation to determine the need for special education or related services or the proper educational placement of a student who does have such need. As explained in Q11, a student with a disability may not need any special education or related service as a result of the disability.

Q13: Are the provision and implementation of a health plan developed prior to the Amendments Act sufficient to comply with the FAPE requirements as described in the Section 504 regulation?

A: Not necessarily. Continuing with a health plan may not be sufficient if the student needs or is believed to need special education or related services because of his or her disability. The critical question is whether the school district’s actions meet the evaluation, placement, and procedural safeguard requirements of the FAPE provisions described in the Section 504 regulation. For example, before the Amendments Act, a student with a peanut allergy may not have been considered a person with a disability because of the student’s use of mitigating measures (e.g., frequent hand washing and bringing a homemade lunch) to minimize the risk of exposure. The student’s school may have created and implemented what is often called an “individual health plan” or “individualized health care plan” to address such issues as hand and desk washing procedures and epipen use without necessarily providing an evaluation, placement, or due process procedures. Now, after the Amendments Act, the effect of the epipen or other mitigating measures cannot be considered when the school district assesses whether the student has a disability. Therefore, when determining whether a student with a peanut allergy has a disability, the school district must evaluate whether the peanut allergy would be substantially limiting without considering amelioration by medication or other measures. For many children with peanut allergies, the allergy is likely to substantially limit the major life activities of breathing and respiratory function, and therefore, the child would be considered to have a disability. If, because of the peanut allergy the student has a disability and needs or is believed to need special education or related services, she has a right to an evaluation, placement, and procedural safeguards. In this situation, the individual health plan described above would be insufficient if it did not incorporate these requirements as described in the Section 504 regulation.

The nature of the regular or special education and related services provided under Section 504 must be based on the student’s individual needs. As noted in Q2 above, the student would also be protected from discrimination under Title II’s statutory and regulatory requirements, as well as Section 504′s general nondiscrimination provisions.

Parents should download and read the Memphis, TN press release and the above FAQ monograph from OCR. Afterwards, to get a better handle on this, parents should go to our wrightslaw.com and read the following:

www.wrightslaw.com/blog/?p=58

www.wrightslaw.com/blog/?p=2831

www.wrightslaw.com/law/504/OCR.va.peanut.pdf

www.wrightslaw.com/info/adaaa.elig.bruce.htm

www.wrightslaw.com/info/sec504.index.htm

www.wrightslaw.com/info/sec504.adaaa.htm

My son’s school principal told me that they handle food allergies with an IHCP. They said any accommodations could be written into the IHCP. My son has life-threatening food allergies and will need accommodations in the classroom, and a trained adult and EpiPens® with him on field trips, etc. In your experience, is it better to have a 504 plan or will an IHCP suffice?

Presumably you have now read the Memphis, TN press release, the  FAQ monograph from OCR and the above articles on our website. Bottom line, you know that there are no protections under an IHCP and it will not suffice. On another note, you write that the principal “told me . . .” Remember, if he did not put it in writing, it was not said. There must be a paper trail. More about this shortly.

If school administrators are going to sit down and write an IHCP, why are they so reluctant to write a 504 plan? Our school says they are “the same.” What is the difference between an IHCP and a 504? What do you recommend for life-threatening food allergies?

A Section 504 plan provides the student with rights and remedies, i.e., it has procedural safeguards, if the school breaches the 504 plan. There are no such procedural safeguards in an IHCP. It is not a legal concept recognized in any of the statutes discussed in the opening answer. Dependent upon the child and other possible issues, I recommend either an IEP or a Section 504 Plan. The IHCP can be incorporated into a Section 504 Plan.

How would you proceed if you were told by a district that, “We don’t do 504 plans for food allergies”?

Again, repeating the answer to the second question, if you were told something and it is not in writing, you are mistaken, it was never said! So, what do you do? The first step is to become educated about IDEA 2004, Section 504, and the 2008 Amendments to ADA that impact the Section 504 eligibility. Read the OCR articles and websites listed above. IDEA 2004 and Section 504 are on our website and also included in our book, Wrightslaw: Special Education Law, 2nd Ed.

Second, once you have a handle on the law and the eligibility issues, then you have to take the same steps any parent has to take to obtain eligibility for their child for either a Section 504 plan or an IEP. You must have an organized file. (See Chapter 9 in our book, Wrightslaw: From Emotions to Advocacy, 2nd Ed.) You must understand all of your child’s test data. (See Chapters 10 and 11.) Then you must understand how to create and maintain a paper trail (Chapter 22) and learn to write good evidence letters (Chapter 23) that do not blame or finger point, but instead create empathy and a desire to fix the issue. This is done using the “Letter to the Stranger” principles (Chapter 24).

When that is accomplished, the parent is able to write a nice letter to the administrators in which they describe their child, the medical/allergy issues, provide the documentation, express some confusion about the law and the OCR documents, provide those documents, and ask the school to help you understand why your child does not fit and why an IHCP is not a Section 504 document and what can be done.

As a part of the self-study, the parent will also need to learn effective negotiation skills that

are in the subsequent chapters of that book. Many of the other questions submitted for this feature were related to “How can I get the school to . . .” The answer is to motivate them, not by a threat of litigation or letter complaint to OCR, but instead by a letter seeking their help to educate you about the law (actually you already know it, but you have created your newly merged personality of Ms. Manners and Columbo) and to provide help regarding your child.

Copy and paste the following links into your browser for more about developing an organized file, understanding the test data, creating the paper trail, and writing persuasive evidence letters using the “Letter to the Stranger” approach.

www.wrightslaw.com/info/organize.file.htm

www.wrightslaw.com/blog/?p=877

www.wrightslaw.com/nltr/12/ss.organize.file.htm

www.wrightslaw.com/advoc/articles/tests_measurements.html

www.wrightslaw.com/advoc/articles/advo.create.trails.htm

www.wrightslaw.com/advoc/articles/12rules_letters.htm

www.wrightslaw.com/nltr/11/ss.short.course.htm

www.wrightslaw.com/nltr/08/nl.0226.htm

www.wrightslaw.com/blog/?tag=paper-trails

www.wrightslaw.com/info/ltrs.index.htm

www.wrightslaw.com/advoc/articles/Letter_to_Stranger.html

www.wrightslaw.com/advoc/stranger/brody.html

www.wrightslaw.com/advoc/ltrs/strngr.joejames.htm

www.wrightslaw.com/advoc/articles/ltr.to.stranger.miata.pdf


 

Pete Wright, an attorney who represents children with special education needs, is the co-author of From Emotions to Advocacy: The Special Education Survival Guide, and co-founder of Wrightslaw, a website specializing in education law and special education advocacy founded by Pamela Darr Wright. 

Resources for Anaphylaxis Awareness Day

Today is Anaphylaxis Awareness Day on our Food Allergy Action Calendar! We encourage everyone to learn about anaphylaxis and how to use an epinephrine auto-injector, or train someone else if you are already knowledgeable.

To help you educate yourself and others, we’ve provided a list of anaphylaxis resources below. From posters to emergency care plans, these materials and information can help you learn and spread the word about how to recognize and treat this life-threatening reaction:

Information about anapyhlaxis:

About Anaphylaxis: Symptoms, Treatment, and Coping
Treating & Managing Reactions
Webinar recording: “All About Anaphylaxis: Understanding the Risks, Symptoms & Treatment” with Dr. Robert A. Wood
Your Questions Answered: Anaphylaxis

Epinephrine resources:

Epinephrine Auto-injectors
2014 Patient Assistance Resources for Epinephrine Auto-injectors

FAAEPthumbMaterials:

Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis Emergency Care Plan (English and Spanish versions available)
Common Symptoms of Anaphylaxis Poster
Common Symptoms of Anaphylaxis Poster (premium version for purchase)
Common Symptoms of Anaphylaxis Magnet

Fast Facts About Anaphylaxis:

  • Food allergy is the most common cause of anaphylaxis, although several other allergens – insect stings, medications, or latex – are other potential triggers.
  • Anaphylaxis often begins within minutes after a person eats a problem food. Less commonly, symptoms may begin hours later.
  • Teenagers and young adults with food allergies are at the highest risk of fatal food-induced anaphylaxis.
  • It is possible to have anaphylaxis without any skin symptoms (no rash, hives).
  • People who have both asthma and a food allergy are at greater risk for anaphylaxis.
  • Epinephrine (adrenaline) is a medication that can reverse the severe symptoms of anaphylaxis. It is given as a “shot” and is available as a self-injector, also known as an epinephrine auto-injector, that can be carried and used if needed.
  • Epinephrine expires after a certain period (usually around one year), so be sure to check the expiration date and renew your prescription in time.
  • About 1 in every 4 patients have a second wave of symptoms one to several hours after their initial symptoms have subsided. This is called biphasic anaphylaxis.