Enzymes at School
last updated 8.25.05
Of all the possible challengest of enzymes with older children, giving the at school may be one of the biggest challenges. Most families find that the children are more than willing and cooperative with taking enzymes - far more than with a restrictive diet. However, schools are generally not used to enzymes, nor are familiar with what they are or how to deal with them.
Schools are very concerned about liability and the welfare of not only your child but of all the other children as well. They need to be on the lookout for unknown 'substances' floating around the school grounds. Also, if medications or any over-the-counter items are handled they need to keep careful records of exactly what is given to whom by whom at what times and what dose.
What many families have found is that how much cooperation you get may be very dependent on the attitude of the people in charge at the particular school. Different schools or districts have different policies on the matter. You will need to check with your particular school and reach some type of agreement. Be prepared to do a little bit of education on enzymes in the process. It is unlikely that a school nurse or counselor will be up on the matter. Taking any of the following with you may help:
- print off various screens from this site
(as long as the copyright and credit to Karen DeFelice is maintained somewhere on it this is fine)
- check out some of the book listed in the Books section from your local library if you do not have them, and take these in. It is helpful if you put bookmarks in selected passages to show the person to support your case, such as enzyme safety, or food intolerances leading to behavioral difficulties, etc.
- go to web sites of enzyme manufacturers and print out their information and Frequently Asked Question sections (most do not mind but remember to include the copyright and credit information - you may want to dash them an email saying you would like to do this and is it alright. Most companies are thrilled to let you and may even supply additional information or a phone number for the nurse to call with questions.)
- if you have a bottle of enzymes that you would like to use, take that with you so the nurse can see the product and the label. If you have not bought a particular product yet, be sure to get a copy of the label ingredients for the nurse to see.
Taking a volume of information in shows you are prepared, you mean business, and helps provide a visual aid to the person at the school. Remember that they may be cautious simply because they do not know what enzymes are or what they are dealing with...exactly. You may also give them my personal email and invite them to contact me with any questions or concerns they may have. I would be happy to put them in touch with some school people that have been giving enzymes at school. It may put the person you are dealing with at ease if they are able to converse with one of their 'peers' on the subject.
There are several ways to give enzymes at school. You will need to find the best solution for your child and the school s/he attends. Here are some ideas:
- Our nurse keeps a bottle of enzymes in her office marked with my son's name on it. My son goes to the office 30 minutes before lunch time, gets his enzymes and swallows the capsules. This works out best for him and the school. The nurse is usually giving several other children medications at lunchtime, so this works out great.
- Some children are disrupted and distracted having to leave the classroom to go to the nurse's office. This can result in missed lessons and disruption in the class. The child may not like to be singled out for 'special' treatment or draw attention to himself by leaving each day. In this case other arrangements need to be made. The nurse may be willing to stop by the child's class and give the enzymes. Or the parent can pack the enzymes in the child's lunch if s/he brings one each day. You can freeze them into ice cubes and then put those cubes into a juice container, or dissolve the enzymes right into the juice and then just partially freeze the
juice itself. They the child just takes his drink to lunch with him. This avoid all the hassles of the school nurse etc, and your child is not singled out by his friends for any special requirements like going to the school nurse before lunch, and does not have his instructional time interrupted.
- If the nurse or teacher is giving the enzymes and your child does not swallow capsules, they teacher or nurse may not feel comfortable opening the capsules and mixing the enzymes - they may consider that 'tampering' with the product. You can use one of the mixing suggestions to make life easier for all. The enzyme powder in the drink box, the peanut butter or frosting balls, or the chocolate wafers are some of the most popular ideas that work well (besides sending the enzymes pre-mixed in an iced drink).
- If your child has an IEP, it is advisable to have the instructions for the enzymes along with any other dietary needs written into the IEP. This gets it down on paper and emphasizes that this needs to be done regularly...and not in a haphazard way.
- The school may be concerned about the idea that another child might accidentally or intentionally consume something that contains enzymes that your child has. It is advisable to provide safety information on enzymes to the school even if it is not requested.
- Most schools with request a prescription or other physician approval for enzymes. Enzymes are a non-prescription item, and considered a food by the FDA. Usually a school with have a non-prescription medication form that they may want you to use. I found that I needed to ask my doctor for a 'written order'. A written order may or may not be on prescription note paper, but it is a statement from the doctor saying your child needs to take this product. They may add 'per the parent's request', but they may not. It may be helpful to work the written order as 'Please have my child take the enzymes provided before lunch each day'. This will allow you to add or subtract different enzymes products if you need to during the school year without having to get a new written order each time. In my case, I just 'provided' different enzymes as our needs changed.
- Instruct your children not to call the enzymes by "cute" names like "peps" or 'zymes' or something like that. You may find yourself explaining that these are not illegal street drugs or tangled in a schools' zero-tolerance no-drug policy.
- If your child will have snacktimes during his/her school day, you will have to consider those times for enzymes also, or provide appropriate snacks if necessary.