Stepping Down From Management of #FABlogCon

 

Handmade Stained Glass  Teal Ribbons by Borealis Baubles
(image: Handmade Stained Glass Teal Ribbons by Borealis Baubles)

I would like to share that I am stepping down from management of the Food Allergy Bloggers Conference.  I am grateful for the experiences and connections made through my participation in planning the event for November 2013 and again for September 2014.  I’ve had questions about 2015 and thought it best to share that I will not be involved next year.

It is through meeting so many of you that I have learned more about myself.  It is through working to put the event on here in Las Vegas two years in a row that I have made connections that make this city feel more than ever like home.

I wrote in April about a movie my cousin made called Helsinki-Tehran and the words feel applicable here:

My sister in law once told me she values her drive home from work.  If she was able to teach near her home she would miss it, the chance to unpack her thoughts from the day, to be silent after teaching elementary school children all day.  To switch from her teacher self to her self-self (my words, not hers, I promise she is much more erudite).

Mom has a “hospital voice” and I think I have a “work voice” too.  And a “court voice.”  And the voice when no one is listening.

I think I like that last one best.

When you’re always at work, there is no coming home in the classic drive home sense but instead I have moments, glimmers, of coming home and they happen randomly.  Sometimes it is late at night when I finally flick off the light in my home office/laundry room.  Sometimes it is the sound of my husband’s key in the door signalling that I can come home too.

So I continue in my gratitude for my journey and the lessons.  For being able to “come home” even though I never actually left.

What the conference stands for is the breaking of the mentality that we are competing against one another.  We are collaborating and lifting one another up.  It is bigger than any one person can lay claim to, though the credit can certainly be shared.  Jenny Sprague‘s vision has been embraced so wholeheartedly by this community that I leave knowing that she has the support of many in continuing the tradition of bringing people together to share in the causes that find us.

Hearing Elisa Camahort Page speak at the 2014 conference was a watershed moment for me.  The stories of our mothers and grandmothers need not be lost, nor our own stories.  That is why when people ask if there is room for a new blogger I will always say, “yes.”  If there wasn’t such space we wouldn’t have wonderful bloggers like Sharon at Nut Free Wok or Tiffany at Food Allergy Pharmacist to bring their fresh perspectives and stories to the table.  I would have never had reason to discover the adventures of Karen at Sweeten the Trip, Jessica at Food Allergy Sleuth, or Annelies at The Food Poet (to name just a few).

Shortly after the conference I was honored by a local magazine as a “top” attorney in Southern Nevada for 2014.  It came out of nowhere and I was incredibly humbled.  It felt like a little bit of public validation for so many hours of work.  So, please remember:  Your words matter.  Your heart matters.  Your integrity matters.  And keep fighting the good fight for awareness, inclusion, and an independent supportive community.

Homa Woodrum
homa@woodrumlaw.com

FTC Dot Com Disclosure Guidelines and Food Allergy Blogging

"Blog and Order" at the 2014 Food Allergy Bloggers Conference (Left, Homa Woodrum, Middle, William Devine, Right, Assly Sayyar)
“Blog and Order” at the 2014 Food Allergy Bloggers Conference (Left to right, Homa Woodrum, William Devine, & Assly Sayyar)

I had the privilege of participating in a panel last month entitled “Blog and Order” at the Food Allergy Bloggers Conference along with Assly Sayyar, Esq. (my older sister) and William Devine II, Esq. (a friend of mine from law school).  The usual caveats apply here that all three of us are licensed to practice in Nevada (my sister is also licensed as an attorney in California) and nothing we discussed then (or below) are meant as legal advice or to create an attorney-client relationship.  It is purely information and we’d encourage you to contact counsel in your area with specific questions.

William and Assly
William and Assly

William tackled a great segment about protecting your intellectual property and the rights/obligations associated with that.  Assly spoke about defamation and best practices for communicating online within that realm.  My section was about guidelines (in the US) that impact how and what we share on our blogs and in social media to essentially protect our readers.  Our session started late (AV issues overall during the event had a bit of a domino effect) so I had about 4 minutes to summarize everything I meant to discuss (my apologies!) and promised to post some links and additional information here at a later date.

The March 2013 FTC .com Disclosures file can be downloaded from the FTC here, I’ve also mirrored the file here in case that link doesn’t work.  It isn’t a huge file as many of the pages are examples of webpages so I highly recommend downloading it to your kindle or smartphone or even just printing it out and reading it next time you’re waiting at the doctor’s office.  Or, if you’re a nerd like me, you’ll just read it for fun.

QUID for Responsible Blogging

Interestingly enough, necessity being the mother of invention, I threw together a mnemonic I really like when I realized I had to scrap my planned presentation:

"QUID" for FTC Disclosures
“QUID” for FTC Disclosures (Just realized that I’m channeling my friend Selena with this font since she uses it at Amazing & Atopic – I just liked the swirls!)

So what does “QUID” entail and how do you incorporate it into your blogging practices?  QUID stands for “Qualify, Use Common Sense, Integrate, and Disclaim/Disclose.”  I like that it hearkens back to the phrase “quid pro quo,” which means “something for something” in Latin.  When you receive a product for review, chances are in exchange you’re going to write a post, so the mnemonic really works for this context.

Generally, if you follow all four points when you include affiliate links, product reviews, paid content, and the like, you’ll be protecting your readers and yourself.  What do I mean by protecting your readers?  Well, the whole theme of the FTC .com Disclosure guidelines is that you don’t want to hide the ball, you don’t want to make it difficult for someone to know up front what biases you may have before they take some sort of action.  It could be as simple as having someone click on a link without making it clear that you get a cut from any sale that results from their time on a given recommended site or it could just be that they read some (but not all) of your review of an awesome meal and come away thinking “Blogger A really loved that place, I should check it out” without ever knowing that you tacked on a disclaimer at the end of the post that your meal was comped.

This concept transcends your blog, so if you wrote a review of a restaurant and had been comped for the experience and later have an automatic script that tweets out your old posts to generate interest, or you pin your page to a board on pinterest and don’t repeat/include some sort of disclosure, you could be running afoul of disclosure rules.  Taking our hypothetical restaurant review, say the title of the post was “Great Meal at Chez Allergy” and in the post itself at the very end you disclose that the meal was free.  Later, when tweeting out a link to the post you just say “Read about my great meal at Chez Allergy” or have the post title and a link with no other information.  If you don’t disclose in the medium you’re sharing the link that you received some benefit, you could be causing confusion then and there.  Your followers may never click the link to discover the full circumstances of your dinner but they’ve already taken some information in and internalized it, which is that Blogger A really loved Chez Allergy.  You’ve impacted them without giving them the full benefit of knowing how you came to eat at the restaurant and write about it.

Talking with my hands, as usual!
Talking with my hands, as usual!

It sounds cumbersome in my examples but using QUID we can see how Blogger A could approach the restaurant review. . .

Qualify

Another word for “qualify” would be “characterize.”  We want to ensure that whatever is being presented is going to carry with it the right weight given a circumstance.  In the same way I see bloggers mention “I wasn’t paid to say this, I just really wanted to share this product,” you’d be saying to your reader, “I have independent opinions but want you to know that I did get a free product that I am now sharing with you.”  Simple, to the point, and it actually can increase your reader’s esteem for you in the long run because they’ll know where they stand.  This is what I like to think of as the “I’m not a doctor but I play one on the internet” type of concept – you want your readers to know that just because something was safe for your allergic family, they need to do independent research.  I had one great question at the end of my talk where I was asked how a blogger can share articles of a scientific nature without having people think they are endorsing them or putting them out as something they might not be.  The best solution we discussed in that circumstance was to say exactly what is going on  – something like, “I read this abstract and it sounds fascinating/promising/what have you, so I’m sharing it while also letting you know I’m no expert and you need to do your own investigations.”  You’ll find the right voice and tone for your space, probably significantly less wordy than mine, but I hope that helps.

Use Common Sense

This is a bit of a catch-all parameter but it goes back to putting yourself in the shoes of your reader.  What do you want to know when you read a review of account of an experience?  Price is often an important factor, so when you get a free product and review it can you really be as fair as you would be if you had to shell out $5 for said bag of gluten free flour?  This also carries into integration and generalized disclosures.

Also under common sense, please give credit appropriately.  If you get permission to use someone’s image, share that, if you’re getting a recipe from another site, why not link your reader to that site and avoid wholesale copy/pasting?  Others will extend you the same courtesy as well.  Watermarking is something else we discussed on the copyright side.  When I see poor practices I usually make a mental note of the person engaging in that behavior and view them with suspicion.  Don’t get on my suspicious list!

Integrate

This is a tough one.  As I mentioned above, if you are sharing a post via twitter and enticing people to click over to your blog, or even sharing a recommendation on instagram, you need to integrate the disclosure with the medium you’re in.  That means you can’t just have a link to your disclosures page at the end of a post or tweet or instagram picture.  If you cannot for some reason perform appropriate integration, you cannot share that recommendation in that medium.  It bears repeating – if 140 characters is not enough to get across that you got a free meal at Chez Allergy, you shouldn’t be sharing on twitter that you had a great meal.  It is probably a better fit for your facebook followers, etc.  So you’ll also be cautious about auto feeding your facebook posts onto your twitter account because even with proper facebook disclosure you know your words will be truncated as they go out onto twitter, etc.

Integration is a platform issue as well – you need to be beta testing your own site on multiple platforms.  A sidebar disclosure that you have affiliate links in all your posts is not going to be enough when someone looks at your site on their mobile browser.  The sidebar in that circumstance collapses into a menu or is too small to read, or the like.  The FTC .com Disclosures even go so far as to say you need to look at where people’s eyes are drawn and not hide disclosures where they don’t look.  I’m personally fascinated by this stuff, so you can check out an article about eye tracking here but generally, there are areas of a page people just aren’t going to be looking so that is not the place to put a qualified disclosure.  What does this mean in a common sense approach?  Just put your disclosure right where you’re making your recommendation or placing your affiliate link.  For affiliate links I state a product name and then parenthetically place an affiliate link labeled as such.  For a post about an experience, I would put information to indicate it was provided by a given company at the start and end of my post.  If the post is lengthy so that you could scroll a ways and not see any indication of a disclosure, it may be a case where you remind your reader the meal or experience or product was comped.  It doesn’t take long to write these disclaimers and it doesn’t take long to read them.  Your readers will appreciate you all the more for respecting their time and energy.

Disclaim/Disclose

So we’ve qualified our words, integrated them into our posts and been reasonable about our approach. . .what exactly are you disclosing in a disclaimer to protect your readers?  You want them to know anything that is essential to understanding your position or understanding that they could be benefiting you by clicking on a link or taking some action.  If I tell you Chez Allergy is great and you find out that they paid me to make the recommendation, it is going to diminish your opinion of my words.  In the more extreme case, if I point you to something and make it sound like I’m a doctor or know something specific about an area and I don’t actually have that expertise, then I could actually cause harm.  You don’t want to do that, and the FTC doesn’t want you to do that.  The more specific your claim or recommendation, the more you’re going to be disclosing.  That doesn’t mean you should shy away from taking positions or making opinions known, but anything you can provide by way of behind the scenes information to let your reader make an informed choice is going to be good.

People blog to inform, to vent, to make money. . .the list goes on, but since you are in control of what you share, you need to view the trust your reader is giving you with a sense of responsibility.  You’ve seen magazine ads that try to look like an article (“advertorial” is the term I believe) and they list clearly that they’re an ad.  Same goes for blogging.

Assly is on Twitter @vistalawyer, William is @devinelawyers, and I am @woodrumlaw (I tried to make the dry erase colors match our outfit colors that day)
Assly is on Twitter @vistalawyer, William is @devinelawyers, and I am @woodrumlaw (I tried to make the dry erase colors match our outfit colors that day)

Let me end by saying you’re allowed to make money for the work you do – for food allergy families a free box of cookies represents a $5 benefit and a nice perk for being involved in writing, researching, recipe testing, etc.  You’re allowed to get a percentage of a sale if a reader orders a book based on your suggestion.  What you can’t do is be sneaky.  Being careless is tantamount to being sneaky for the FTC – just not knowing these guidelines are out there is not enough.  The disclosure pdf is written in easy to understand terms and has a lot of great examples via screen shots.  I just wanted to distill the concepts into something you can implement in your blog right away.

With my older sister, Assly
With my older sister, Assly, at the registration desk

I can’t thank William and Assly enough for taking the time to come speak at the conference – the volunteer time people put in as speakers, at the registration desk, and helping with set up and take down was so appreciated.

Thank you for reading!

Thank you

I wanted to write and thank publicly all of those who contributed time, energy, and passion to the Food Allergy Bloggers Conference this past weekend.  The gratitude I feel is intense and humbling.  I hugged so many people so many times I am guessing it will come as a surprise that I am an introvert by nature but without going into detail about my life so far, to have friends is something that never stops feeling surreal.

FABlogCon Stage
FABlogCon Stage

Continue reading

The Allergy-Free Pantry (Review and Giveaway)

One of my favorite people has a new cookbook coming out early next month and I was able to snag an advance copy!  That means the page number references are missing and certain aspects may change by the time the book goes to print but even in that form I can tell you “The Allergy-Free Pantry” by Colette Martin (amazon affiliate link), to-be-released September 9, 2014, is everything the tagline promises:

Make your own staples, snacks, and more without wheat, gluten, dairy, eggs, soy, or nuts.

Advance Review Copy
ARC could mean “Advance Review Copy” or “Already Really Creased”

I’ve baked from Colette’s prior book, “Learning to Bake Allergen-Free,” (amazon affiliate link) so I was excited to choose a recipe out of this book that leaned to the “staple” side of things.  My kids would have rather I made the toaster pastries (I may yet still!)   and I eyed the potato puffs with interest but our decision was made by recently listening to the audiobook of “Little House in the Big Woods.” (amazon affiliate link)

My daughter was fascinated by the stories of pioneer life, especially the detailed descriptions of chores like churning butter.  We’ve even watched some videos online of old fashioned butter making so Colette’s “Homemade Buttery Spread” was just the ticket.  This is dairy free and even corn free.  I remember when my daughter still would react to corn (she’s grown out of that allergy) it was hard to find corn free options of staples.  This includes as ingredients: coconut oil, grapeseed oil, canola oil, flax, water, lemon juice, and salt.   Oh, and in honor of Colette doing all her own photos, I tried to use some manual settings for these pictures!

Ingredients for Colette's Homemade Buttery Spread
Ingredients for Colette’s Homemade Buttery Spread

Colette explains everything – she even discusses at length on the subject of “flax eggs” how you can replace the flax for those that are allergic (chia seeds may be an option).  Her tips on creating a permanent emulsion were especially helpful for this recipe and are applicable to dressings and her homemade mayo recipe as well.  Thank you to my mother in law for slowly drizzling the oil in while I tried to get a good shot.

Emulsion in progress
Emulsion in progress

I used our Vitamix to blend this up but a food processor or immersion blender are listed as possibilities as well.

Heart shaped molds for vegan coconut buttery spread - 1 tablespoon apiece
Heart shaped molds for vegan coconut buttery spread – 1 tablespoon apiece

Just like Ma in “Little House in the Big Woods” (amazon affiliate link), we used molds for our buttery spread.  (Milk is now safe for us but my daughter prefers vegetable spreads for toast since she is used to them.)

I love the little flecks of flax and the coconut oil smells wonderful.  My mother in law remarked, “It’s perfect!  Not that I doubted it for a minute anyway.”  My daughter loved the finished spread, as did I.  My son was not in a taste testing mood.  The flavor does come through strongly but you can always substitute other oils as discussed in the book.  I won’t share the recipe here but I hope you’ll check out the book!  Amy Tracy at Adventures of an Allergic Foodie does have her own review as well as Colette’s homemade mayo recipe on her blog if you’d like to check it out.

Out of the molds
Out of the molds

Colette advises that you may be able to substitute this for shortening when chilled for pie crusts or cookies but doesn’t recommend using it for frosting or syrups.  The book is filled with tips and many were new to me even though I have been baking and cooking allergy friendly for over 4 years now.  At one point she mentions, for example:

I don’t recommend paper liners when baking with gluten-free grains, as they have a tendency to hold in moisture.  Instead, bake directly in the muffin pan and add the paper cups, if desired, after cooling.

Giveaway!

I am not only, courtesy of Colette’s publisher, giving away 1 copy of “The Allergy-Free Pantry” but I will also include, purchased from the affiliate link proceeds of this blog (see my disclosures), one USD $20 Amazon.com gift card to spend as you like!  I hope you’ll take Colette’s suggestion in the book to buy a scale to weigh out your flours but then I thought readers might already have one.

How to Enter:

Leave a comment letting me know something you make from scratch in your home – open to entries until August 13, 2014 at 12 p.m. Pacific Time.

I’ll assign numbers to each comment to represent their order and use a random number generator to pick the winner.  This giveaway is void where prohibited and open to residents of the United States and Canada.  I’ll need you to include your e-mail address  (it will not be shared or used for any other purpose) so I can reach you if you win.  Any winner that doesn’t respond within 24 hours of contact forfeits the prize and I’ll choose another winner.

Thank you and good luck!

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Elsewhere: If you follow my vegetarian and vegan friendly reviews at vegbooks.org, I have a few new ones to check out!  Julia’s House for Lost Creatures (I adored this one),  Sleep Tight, Anna Banana, I Love You Just Enough, The Zoo Box, The Girl and the Bicycle, and Peep and the Big Wide World

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UPDATE 8/14/14 – Our winner is comment 11 from Mary!  Thank you all for your comments – Mary, your book and gift card will be on their way soon!

winningcomment

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A Brief in (Semi) Brief – Understanding the Amicus Brief of FARE and COPAA in T.F. vs. Fox Chapel Area School District

I was excited to see that FARE (Food Allergy Research and Education) posted their Amicus Brief recently filed in TF and DF and TSF v. Fox Chapel Area School District for download on their blog.  Speaking with other allergy advocates, many had seen the brief go up but had not had time to read through.  I found it to be a great overview of food allergy accommodations in federally funded schools and had the idea to try to distill the brief into a post in honor of Food Allergy Awareness Week (starting tomorrow, May 11, 2014) here in the United States.  I tried to also cover some questions people may have, like what an Amicus Brief is, and why there are citations to cases as well as parts of the US Code in the brief.

Remember that briefs and settlements are not binding precedent (I see some people cite the Lesley University settlement as binding in other cases) and analysis of food allergies as a disability are a very individualized thing even if we can all agree that food allergies are a disability.  For example, in a private daycare, you could use the Americans With Disabilities Act to seek accommodations for your child but the factors and balancing at play could very well leave you having to look elsewhere for services.  With federal money involved, however, your chances get significantly better.

Generic policy does not meet the requirements for a free, appropriate public education under the law. The major theme is individualized planning, from inputs to process, to outcome. As an aside, for most lawyers there are three answers to any question: Yes, No, and It Depends – individualized case by case planning falls in the third category. As a parent of a child with multiple food allergies and also one aware of the co-existence of other issues unique to each child, I think the brief is a great resource.

Amicus Brief re: TF and DF and TSF v. Fox Chapel Area School District (download the original brief here)

From the caption we can tell the case was initiated by a minor and his parents against a school district. It is on appeal by the parents & child so we can guess that there was an unfavorable aspect of the decision below.  From the FARE Blog:

A federal judge previously ruled that the school district did not discriminate against the child in violation of Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act, and that the school offered reasonable accommodations, and had not retaliated against the student’s parents when it filed a truancy petition after the parents withdrew their child from school. Among the accommodations that the school offered was special lunch seating at a nut-free table that was actually a single desk in the cafeteria. 

Amici Curiae

An “Amicus Brief” is one filed in a case not by anyone that is a party to the dispute but usually by organizations that have a vested interest in the outcome of the case. They can highlight unique impacts on their organization depending on the outcome of the case or just show support. Here, we have FARE (Food Allergy Research and Education) joining with the Council of Parent Attorneys and Advocates to support TF, DF, and TSF.

Table of Contents and Other Introductory Material

If you’ve had experience with your local court system, you may notice the greater formality in a federal brief. Ideally, we should all be well organized in our writing (headings, etc.) but you simply don’t always have time to draft the perfect document in regular motion practice. In other words, don’t hold your divorce attorney to the standard you see when you’re reading a brief like this.

Relevant Statutes and Regulations

They start off with 29 USC (s) 794. This citation tells you the title of the United States Code and the section where the provision quoted is located. The ellipses let you know portions that were perhaps not relevant have been removed. This provision of the US Code states that if you otherwise qualify (so subject to any exceptions that may apply from other laws), if you have a disability in the US, you can’t only because of your disability be excluded from, denied benefits of, or be discriminated against by/through a program or activity that receives federal financial assistance. It goes on to define what a program or activity would be, including educational agencies or a school system. Note that it specifically says in this provision that they have to receive Federal financial assistance. If you’re looking at this brief to apply broadly then you’re out of luck because a private school system would require you to find a different provision, if one exists, to apply to your circumstances.

Many times, the key here is knowing how the court gets jurisdiction on an issue, that is, how do they have the “right to speak” on the topic and bind the parties that come before them. For things to hit Federal Court, one great way is for an issue to be one of Federal Law.

Next up is 34 CFR (s) 104.33. We see that under Title 34 of the Code of Federal Regulations, Section 104.33 we can find the provision cited. Title 34 of the CFR is titled “Education” so that would also clue you in that you could look under that title for related subjects.

When laws are passed, they often set into motion a framework to make rules to apply those laws. So these are rules that are also binding under the law. This particular portion of the CFR states that a recipient of federal assistance operating an education program has to provide “free appropriate public education to each qualified handicapped person” in their area, “regardless of the nature or severity of the person’s handicap.” So we see from this that a school getting federal money can’t turn away a student even if they are handicapped and the accommodation for that handicap may be great. This is different than the American’s With Disabilities Act provision that a private entity that is classed as a “public accommodation,” such as a daycare, won’t have to accommodate a disabled individual if, among other things, it would be unduly burdensome or change the nature of the service they offer. Here, if you’ve got a school that is getting federal assistance they have to take a student on and figure out how to make it work so that their education is still free to the family and appropriate.

A subsection goes on to point out that “appropriate education” is defined to include any special services and aids to meet the person’s needs “as adequately as…” the needs of people non-handicapped person. There are more provisions about how to determine the placement procedures for a handicapped individual.

Title 34 of the Code of Federal Regulations, section 104.36 is an additional rule that provides for procedural safeguards, notice, opportunity for parents to examine records, a review procedure, and an impartial hearing with participation of the child’s parents.

Statements of Interest

This section details the resume of FARE and their focus on research and allergy education and is interested in the case because of a belief that “students with the disability of a severe food allergy have the right to individualized plans that ensures their access to education and safety while in schools.”

The Council of Parent Attorneys and Advocates is described as a nonprofit organization for parents of children with disability and those that advocate for them. They assist counsel for families on disability law.

Argument

The Importance of Protecting Students with the Hidden Disability of a Severe Food Allergy

Pretty much general statistics here, ones advocates are all too familiar with. Some that were new to me:
– Over 160 foods can cause severe food allergy reactions
– The Food Allergen Labeling and Consumer Protection Act also requires federal agencies like the CDC to monitor and research “the growing prevalence of food allergy.”
– Peanuts and Tree Nuts account for 50-62% of reactions and 15-30% of the fatal/near fatal reactions in emergency rooms.

Schools are Required to Develop Individualized (s) 504 Plans to Ensure a FAPE for Students with Disabilities

Before section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, discrimination regarding disability was viewed by Congress as careless, not intentional. Now, under a section 504 claim, a student has to prove:

“(1) he is ‘disabled’ under the meaning of this Act;
(2) he is ‘otherwise qualified’ to participate in school activities;
(3) the school or the board of education receives federal financial assistance; and
(4) he was excluded from participation in, denied the benefits of, or subject to discrimination at, the school.”

Ridgewood Bd. Of Educ. v. N.E. ex rel., 172 F.3d 238, 253 (3rd Cir. 1999).

FAPE, or “free appropriate public education” (and individualized needs) to students with a disability so that they can participate in education. The protections of section 504 are procedural and include extracurricular activities as well with a mind to meaningfulness for the student with a disability.

The two procedural safeguards are that a person that is “knowledgeable about the child” to be part of the group evaluating their placement and that guardians have notice and opportunity to see the records informing decisions about placement.

An IEP may be needed, or a 504 plan, depending on the circumstances and even if other provisions are in place for the student.

The Court Should Require Schools to Develop Individualized 504 Plans for Students With the Hidden Disability of a Severe Food Allergy

A school can’t simply decide on a policy for all students with food allergy, they have to adjust to each unique circumstance with parental and expert involvement.

In 2011 the Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis Management Act (FAAMA) was passed by Congress to require national guidelines to assist implementation of plans for individuals to manage food allergy and anaphylaxis risks in schools. The individualized mandate appears again and again.

The brief is requesting that the court rule that 504 and IEP plans be individualized based on the regulations, case law, and United States Code. Schools can’t bypass families and administer a generalized policy if the court rules that individualization is the “minimal bright line rule.”

Components would include individualized accommodation for meaningful participation at school as well as an emergency care plan specific to the student. The factors requested for consideration are (1) medical history, (2) type and severity of allergy, (3) number of allergies, (4) atopic conditions, (5) mental health, age, and maturity, (6) any developmental or learning disabilities, (7) past bullying and harassment, (8) school nurse presence or absence, and (9) transportation needs.

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Special thanks to Laurel Francoeur and Kim Pebley for the encouragement to drive this post forward.  I hope it is of use.  Special thanks also to my daughter’s teacher and her school, she is wrapping up her kindergarten year in the next month and we are truly lucky for the support and compassion of the staff, students, and other families when it comes to keeping her safe.

Also, check out our latest post over at FABlogCon.com, our Mother’s Day gift/Food Allergy Awareness Week contribution of a video session from last year’s conference entitled “Facing Adversity With a Smile.”  I make a teary appearance but to those that know me that isn’t a surprise.  I can argue cases just fine but when it comes to food allergies I get very emotional!   

Mylan Summit 2014 (and My Trip to Washington, D.C.!)

I’ve created a new Disclosures page to cover in greater detail what Mylan Specialty covered for the trip I’m about to discuss as well as other benefits I’ve received related to this blog.  Their provided disclosure is as follows but I didn’t think it covered everything a reader might ask about so feel free to scroll to the bottom of the disclosures page for more detail (though there is a spoiler in there about the DC leg of my trip that I covered myself):

I disclose in any communication made by me about EpiPen® (epinephrine) Auto-Injector and/or the Mylan Specialty Blogger Summit that such communication is at my own discretion and based on my own opinion.  I also disclose that my travel expenses were compensated by Mylan Specialty in exchange for evaluation and feedback on information presented during the meeting.

It is odd to say on the one hand my opinions are my own (they are) but in reality I do think I left the summit with a more favorable opinion of Mylan Specialty than before.  I don’t think it was because I had my travel covered as much as the act of traveling there and meeting with people passionate about food allergy awareness and advocacy in conjunction with their product (the “EpiPen”) did impact me.  I can see now why Jenny‘s story of starting the Food Allergy Bloggers Conference began with her experience gathering with other bloggers at a prior incarnation of the summit.  When she approached me about helping her bring the conference to life, she even said that she wanted the experience of connection and education to be available to not just the invited few but a broader audience.

It was such a boost to visit with some wonderful advocates on April 10th and 11th.  They say much of business is conducted before or after actual business hours in the form of relationship building but like true multi-tasking food allergy moms we made every minute together count.  Studious notes were taken, suggestions were made, and there were more than a few laughs thrown in for good measure.

So!  My husband points out to me that there’s the regular, concise way of saying things and then there is the “Homa” way.  I’m going to go with the latter though never fear, I won’t be pasting my type-written notes from the summit for readers to get through.  Thank heavens for small favors, right?  I won’t overload any of my e-mail subscribers with this full post because it is l-o-n-g so here’s the debut of my first ever “read more” tag on the blog, something I really can’t stand on other sites but I’m hoping you will click through and I promise it isn’t a pageview grab or anything.

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Thank You: FARE Walk Directors Dana and Duane Gordin

Dana and Duane Gordin addressing the FARE walk crowd on November 2, 2013
Dana and Duane Gordin addressing the FARE walk crowd on November 2, 2013

I am still formulating something to write about the first Food Allergy Bloggers Conference that happened last weekend and thank yous are a huge part of the thoughts rattling around in my mind.  (I am loving everyone’s recaps!)  This thank you is a little time sensitive because Duane Gordin, part of the rock star FARE walk team that includes his wife, Dana Gordin, is running in the Las Vegas Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon on Saturday, November 17th.  Duane has been training for a 4 hour finish for his 26.2 mile journey through Las Vegas at night and is carrying with him the names of FARE walk supporters for each mile he conquers.

Nevada State Senator Debbie Smith with Duane Gordin at the 2013 Nevada FARE Walk (image courtesy of Carolyn Moassessi)
Nevada State Senator Debbie Smith with Duane Gordin at the 2013 Nevada FARE Walk (image courtesy of Carolyn Moassessi)

Dana and Duane helped me find the South Point as our venue for the conference and introduced me to Chef Keith and so many other wonderful folks.  Dana and Duane – you are appreciated and loved!  As fundraising from the Las Vegas Walk is still open, I wanted to share this message from the Dana Gordin about the race on Saturday:

Here’s Duane’s extra motivation to finish the Rock n Roll Marathon in under 4 hours.  Thanks to the many who gave to help find a cure for Scott, Matthew and the 1 in 13 children with a potentially life threatening food allergy.  He has a list of each Team Gordin donor that he’ll use to motivate him during each mile of his 26.2 mile race.  (Due to anonymity requests, just initials here.  He has the full names on his list.) 

However, he doesn’t have any donor names for miles 1 thru 5.  If you haven’t had a chance to donate, please do so now and get your named added to his motivation list.  Donate at Team Gordin:

MILE INITIALS

1

<none>

2

<none>

3

<none>

4

<none>

5

 <none>

6

M. G.

7

A. B.

8

P. D.

9

S. C.

10

C. M.

11

R. S.

12

J. G.

13

J. W.

14

K. W.

15

R. D.

16

T. S.

17

B. H.

18

B.R.

19

M.K.

20

P. N.

21

D. E.

22

R. L.

23

A. S.

24

C. W.

25

J. M. G.

26

S. P.

Thank you so much for the tremendous support!!!