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Old 17.04.2018, 10:20
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Kindergarten teacher does not take nut allergy serious

Hi everyone,

I'm hoping of getting some advice here. My daughter has a severe nut allergy which, until she went to Kindergarten, we could manage quite well. I have always brought a nut-safe alternative to Spielgruppe and they have given me a list with birthday's on it, so I knew well in advance when to bake. My daughter was also fine with how it went and did not take food from others as it could have nuts in it and after her anaphylactic shock when she was 2, she got really suspicious of food from others.

Now she is in Kindergarten and seems to have let go of everything written above. We have tried to explain the teacher how severe her nut allergy is, explained the epi pen, antihistamines etc. but the teacher seems really dismissive of it all. In our recent conversation she said yes yes, I know how it works, it's like clicking a ballpoint ... Well no, dear woman! On top of this she said 'well it's not like it's a life threatening allergy is it' Again wrong.. Now after about 5 conversations she still has no clue about the severity of it all and how to work the pen in case something goes wrong. When there is a birthday, she asks the parents if there are any nuts in the cake and if they say no, she is allowing my daughter to have cake. I have tried to explain to my daughter that even though you don't see the nuts, that doesn't mean there are no nuts in the cake (ground almonds or hazelnuts in chocolates etc) but she says, well Frau ... says its ok, so I can then also have cake - which is a normal reaction from a 5 year old and of course she cannot see the consequences yet. So we have tried to take it up with the head of school to ensure teachers get a proper training in allergies and how to handle when she gets an anaphylactic shock but he also seems to think this is not necessary. He is also retiring after this school year, so he basically does not care..

It feels like I am just fighting agains a wall here, I don't feel taken serious and I am getting nowhere. To be honest I am also getting a bit fed up with requesting another talk with regards to my daughters allergy.. Until now everything went well for her and she did not suffer a reaction but people will forget and if you are not dealing with allergies, you are not focussed on the ingredients of food.

Does anyone have any advice on how to deal with this as I am getting at my wits end here.
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Old 17.04.2018, 10:24
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Re: Kindergarten teacher does not take nut allergy serious

If it could be a language problem/misunderstanding, get a note from her doctor and give her that.

Ridiculous behaviour of the teacher by the way
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Old 17.04.2018, 10:30
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Re: Kindergarten teacher does not take nut allergy serious

No, its definitely not a language problem as my Swiss husband has also explained it to her several times, he even showed her how to use the epi pen with a demo version..

I might actually contact the Kinderartzt and ask to send a letter about the severity of it all, that's a good idea!
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Old 17.04.2018, 10:49
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Re: Kindergarten teacher does not take nut allergy serious

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No, its definitely not a language problem as my Swiss husband has also explained it to her several times, he even showed her how to use the epi pen with a demo version..

I might actually contact the Kinderartzt and ask to send a letter about the severity of it all, that's a good idea!
I'm not generally the type to overreact, but I would escalate this. Write a letter to the Schulbehorde pointing out the problem, and that the teacher has allowed your child to consume stuff that isn't known the be nut free, and attach a copy of the letter from the Kinderartzt.
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Old 17.04.2018, 10:55
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Re: Kindergarten teacher does not take nut allergy serious

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No, its definitely not a language problem as my Swiss husband has also explained it to her several times, he even showed her how to use the epi pen with a demo version..

I might actually contact the Kinderartzt and ask to send a letter about the severity of it all, that's a good idea!
DEFINITELY !!! Should have done that in the first place.

A doctor is an authority that is listened to in this country. Also ask the doc to write the consequences for the school if they don't take this seriously.

I once tried to save the life of a man at a festival who those round about said was having a heart attack. Actually he had eaten a sauce that contained peanut butter and his throat swelled up and he died right there in my hands.
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Old 17.04.2018, 11:04
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Re: Kindergarten teacher does not take nut allergy serious

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DEFINITELY !!! Should have done that in the first place.

A doctor is an authority that is listened to in this country. Also ask the doc to write the consequences for the school if they don't take this seriously.

I once tried to save the life of a man at a festival who those round about said was having a heart attack. Actually he had eaten a sauce that contained peanut butter and his throat swelled up and he died right there in my hands.
How awful that must have been!! This is my worst nightmare! I will contact the Kinderartzt this afternoon!
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Old 17.04.2018, 11:18
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Re: Kindergarten teacher does not take nut allergy serious

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I'm not generally the type to overreact, but I would escalate this. Write a letter to the Schulbehorde pointing out the problem, and that the teacher has allowed your child to consume stuff that isn't known the be nut free, and attach a copy of the letter from the Kinderartzt.
Thank you for that! I didn't know about a Schulbehorde, I thought the head of the school was the highest we could take it up with.
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Old 17.04.2018, 11:25
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Re: Kindergarten teacher does not take nut allergy serious

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Thank you for that! I didn't know about a Schulbehorde, I thought the head of the school was the highest we could take it up with.
I made a spelling mistake, it's actually Schulbehörde, or in Hergiswil "Schulkommision".

http://www.schule-hergiswil.ch/de/sc...hulkommission/
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Old 17.04.2018, 11:47
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Re: Kindergarten teacher does not take nut allergy serious

Allergies are taken really lightly here. They don't realise how dangerous they can be. My son has a peanut allergy, and thankfully we arrived when he was 12 and able to take care of himself much better. I actually even had a hard time getting a prescription for an epi pen from my son's Doctor! He did not think it was necessary and gave him an antihistamine pill to swallow. I had to explain to him that swallowing an antihistamine when his throat is swelling up is somewhat impossible! A letter from the Dr is a great idea. I would also simply tell the teacher that your child cannot eat ANY food provided by someone else, but that you will gladly provide an alternative treat for your child to have on such occasions. Maybe you could provide something the teacher can keep in her desk.
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Old 17.04.2018, 11:50
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Re: Kindergarten teacher does not take nut allergy serious

This so hard, and so wrong. We have the same with our grandson in the UK, with severe egg allergy.

To some extent, I blame those people and parents who keep saying 'oh I am allergic to this and that, or my kid is, when they are in fact intolerant, vaguely intolerant, or just don't like it, and us 'allergy' as an excuse - resulting in severe, life threatening allergies not being taken seriously

Is your child followed by an allergologist? If so, ask him to write a letter, copies to School Director and School Council (political Councillors with the education remit)- and ask for an urgent meeting. Make sure you take with you someone who speaks good German.

I feel for you.
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Old 17.04.2018, 11:57
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Re: Kindergarten teacher does not take nut allergy serious

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Thank you for that! I didn't know about a Schulbehorde, I thought the head of the school was the highest we could take it up with.
The highest would be the Swiss Federal Court in Lausanne and after that if that also fails the ECHR in Strassbourg.

So it goes like that:

Teacher.
Schulleiter (Head Teacher/Principal). Not in every canton..
Schulbehörde/Schulkommision/Schulpflege. (Officials elected by the public of the commune)
Schulaufsicht (Cantonal institution, in some canton on district level)

The comunes Schulbehörde can issue legal binding verdicts.
You would have object to that at district council or state council (depends on canton see Volksschulgesetz of your canton).
You than can object to that at the canton's administrative court.
Against that you can object at the federal court in Lausanne.
And finally you can go to the ECHR in Strassbourg.
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Old 17.04.2018, 12:31
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Re: Kindergarten teacher does not take nut allergy serious

As swisscanmom posted, this is a cultural issue and allergies are taken much more lightly here.

There is practically no culture of:
  • 'always having an EPI pen around' and
  • 'that exposure to a peanut will kill your child'
here as there is in other countries (like the states). This means that you can not assume that you can bring and epi pen and announce that your child has a peanut allergy and expect that the problem will be taken care of (as it mostly would be in the states) because everyone knows about peanut allergies.

Depending on your pediatrician, it may even be that your pediatrician doesn't take the situation as seriously as you wish him/her to (refer to what swisscanmom explained about having it be even difficult to get an epipen prescription). [Please let us know in the forum as I would be interested in what your pediatrician says].

My feeling is that you guys have sunken into a situation in which you each are highly suspcious of each other. You are suspicious that the teacher won't take care of your daughter in a life threatening situation. The teacher and school probably think you are a making a big deal about nothing. If it continues like this, you won't get anywhere as neither of you understand the other's perspective at all.

I would recommend thinking carefully about what exactly is it that you want the kindergarten and school to do and try to acheive these things (without trying to convince them of anything else).

So... what do you want the school to do?
  1. Do you want the teacher to keep an epipen in the kindergarten and be ready and trained to use it? If so, explain this specifically. Tell her it is an easy treatment and you will leave the epipen in the school.
  2. Do you want more epipens in the school? Do you want everyone trained? If so, are you willing to bring more epipens and explain to the staff at a staff meeting? If so, offer this. Tell the Schulleiter, that you'll come to the school and teach them and it'll just take 5 minutes.
  3. What do you want your daughter to eat? Nothing that is brought in? No birthday cakes? Only birthday cakes that the teacher has checked (it sounds like the teacher is asking, but you aren't sure she'll really make sure there are no nuts). Here, I think you need to make decide what you consider to be safe and then try to make a rule together. This should be easy enough for the teacher to enforce. For example, I don't think it is realistic that you be 100% sure that no cake your daughter eats in school has nuts in it). There are too many recipies in Switzerland with nut flour and too big a chance of miscommunication between the baker and birthday party. Again, decide what you want and ask for it specifically.
  4. Do you want anything else? If so, figure out what it is and ask for it.

Because there is no culture of life threatening allergies here, I also think this problem won't be solved by escalating the situation. I don't think you'll, by going to the top, get to someone who will suddenly share your perspective. It isn't likely you'll find a school board member or a schulleiter who will suddenly say "my god, we have to fix our complete culture.' Rather, I think you'll find more and more people who don't share your perspective and you'll continue to find the situation frustrating. Solve the problem with the teacher by focusing on what to do, not by convincing her to see things from your view.

good luck, it sounds like a tough situation
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Old 17.04.2018, 12:35
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Re: Kindergarten teacher does not take nut allergy serious

one more thing i want to add is that you should refocus your definition of the problem you have to solve...

It isn't that you have a child with a nut allergy and the Kindergarten teacher doesn't take it seriously. The problem is that you have a child with a nut allergy in an entire culture that doesn't believe nut allergies are life threatening.

This will follow you through all school years, through camps, at sleepovers and play dates, at sport activities, in restaurants. Don't focus just on the kindergarten.
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Old 17.04.2018, 12:42
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Re: Kindergarten teacher does not take nut allergy serious

Our granson carries his bag with his epipen and antihistamine all the time- he is now old enough to be responsible for it. Whenever he goes to sport club or classes- the leader/teacher is made aware of it. He now knows how to administer himself- but several teachers at his primary school were trained to do this.

And yes, it is a total nightmare with scout camps, rugby, swimming, school trips- when a parent always has to go with, with their own camping stove, pots and pans, etc. With egg, it is not 'just about' not cooking with eggs or ingredients containing such - it is with cross contamination in the kitchen, etc.

Last edited by Odile; 17.04.2018 at 13:34.
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Old 17.04.2018, 13:14
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Re: Kindergarten teacher does not take nut allergy serious

I don't think it is much about poo-pooing the facts of allergies as much as it is fear of the responsibility in recognizing what is happening and taking correct and appropriate action.

In the case I described in my previous post, the victim himself was a doctor who apparently recognized a bit late that he had a reaction to peanut butter, jumped up from the table and made a dash to the public toilet to wash it down with water, but collapsed before he got there. The first person who sprang to help assumed a heart attack and started CPR which I continued instead of performing an emergency tracheotomy with a ballpoint pen.

I have a similar allergy to guinea pigs which also closes the throat, almost killed me three times, but knowing it doesn't help 'cause when your throat is closing up you can't tell anybody what to do...
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Old 17.04.2018, 14:03
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Re: Kindergarten teacher does not take nut allergy serious

For the OP, Jazh has got it exactly right. It is not just Switzerland, but all of Europe and, really, all of the world except for the US that do not believe that food allergies are real.

This is hard for a US person to believe, I know. But you have to understand that they are coming from a culture that has literally survived for thousands of years on bread and cheese. They are coming from a culture that only recognizes bee stings as the only life-threatening allergy that exists. Then they have these ex-pats from the US coming in over the last two decades saying that they are intolerant of gluten and lactose, (which has just exacerbated your legitimate problem one hundredfold.)

So, your daughter's peanut allergy has been lumped in with "those crazy Americans and vegans who don't eat anything normal" and so they are not paying attention. They think your kid just doesn't like peanuts and so you are calling it an "allergy".

Your key to solving this dilemma is your Swiss husband. He needs to be taking care of this, solely based on the fact that he is Swiss. The school will do what he says but, mind you, they are still going to be whispering under their breath that your daughter's allergy is definitely coming from her mother's side!
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Old 17.04.2018, 14:11
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Re: Kindergarten teacher does not take nut allergy serious

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As swisscanmom posted, this is a cultural issue and allergies are taken much more lightly here.

There is practically no culture of:
  • 'always having an EPI pen around' and
  • 'that exposure to a peanut will kill your child'
here as there is in other countries (like the states). This means that you can not assume that you can bring and epi pen and announce that your child has a peanut allergy and expect that the problem will be taken care of (as it mostly would be in the states) because everyone knows about peanut allergies.

Depending on your pediatrician, it may even be that your pediatrician doesn't take the situation as seriously as you wish him/her to (refer to what swisscanmom explained about having it be even difficult to get an epipen prescription). [Please let us know in the forum as I would be interested in what your pediatrician says].

My feeling is that you guys have sunken into a situation in which you each are highly suspcious of each other. You are suspicious that the teacher won't take care of your daughter in a life threatening situation. The teacher and school probably think you are a making a big deal about nothing. If it continues like this, you won't get anywhere as neither of you understand the other's perspective at all.

I would recommend thinking carefully about what exactly is it that you want the kindergarten and school to do and try to acheive these things (without trying to convince them of anything else).

So... what do you want the school to do?
  1. Do you want the teacher to keep an epipen in the kindergarten and be ready and trained to use it? If so, explain this specifically. Tell her it is an easy treatment and you will leave the epipen in the school.
  2. Do you want more epipens in the school? Do you want everyone trained? If so, are you willing to bring more epipens and explain to the staff at a staff meeting? If so, offer this. Tell the Schulleiter, that you'll come to the school and teach them and it'll just take 5 minutes.
  3. What do you want your daughter to eat? Nothing that is brought in? No birthday cakes? Only birthday cakes that the teacher has checked (it sounds like the teacher is asking, but you aren't sure she'll really make sure there are no nuts). Here, I think you need to make decide what you consider to be safe and then try to make a rule together. This should be easy enough for the teacher to enforce. For example, I don't think it is realistic that you be 100% sure that no cake your daughter eats in school has nuts in it). There are too many recipies in Switzerland with nut flour and too big a chance of miscommunication between the baker and birthday party. Again, decide what you want and ask for it specifically.
  4. Do you want anything else? If so, figure out what it is and ask for it.

Because there is no culture of life threatening allergies here, I also think this problem won't be solved by escalating the situation. I don't think you'll, by going to the top, get to someone who will suddenly share your perspective. It isn't likely you'll find a school board member or a schulleiter who will suddenly say "my god, we have to fix our complete culture.' Rather, I think you'll find more and more people who don't share your perspective and you'll continue to find the situation frustrating. Solve the problem with the teacher by focusing on what to do, not by convincing her to see things from your view.

good luck, it sounds like a tough situation
And, by the way, this is one of the most intelligent and informative responses from a newbie that I have read in years. Watch out, Jazh, because you are on the fast track to be a mod. Mark my words!
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Old 17.04.2018, 14:21
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Re: Kindergarten teacher does not take nut allergy serious

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So, your daughter's peanut allergy has been lumped in with "those crazy Americans and vegans who don't eat anything normal" and so they are not paying attention. They think your kid just doesn't like peanuts and so you are calling it an "allergy"
Tree nuts, not peanuts.

The problem is if you are so allergic that you get an anaphylactic reaction even trace amount of the allergen can be a problem. A "nut kosher" kitchen is not very usual. I would not vouch with 100% certainty that my own backing products are truly nut free.
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Old 17.04.2018, 14:23
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Re: Kindergarten teacher does not take nut allergy serious

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And, by the way, this is one of the most intelligent and informative responses from a newbie that I have read in years.
Someone who has been on EF for four years is a newbie?

Tom
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Old 17.04.2018, 14:35
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Re: Kindergarten teacher does not take nut allergy serious

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So, your daughter's peanut allergy has been lumped in with "those crazy Americans and vegans who don't eat anything normal" and so they are not paying attention. They think your kid just doesn't like peanuts and so you are calling it an "allergy".
FWIW, OP appears to be Dutch
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