VeryMost processed foods contain a product called gluten which helps bind the product together and keep it from crumbling. Gluten is found in flour, wheat, rye, triticale and barley. In a student with celiac disease, or celiac sprue, gluten damages the lining of the small intestine so that it is unable to absorb the protein, carbohydrates, fat, vitamins, minerals and nutrients that the body needs. The child is essentially eating and starving at the same time. While this is happening, the student may experience a range of painful and embarrassing physical symptoms that will tax both the body and emotions.
In some cases, celiac disease affects the skin with an itchy and painful rash that may include blisters. This is a form of celiac called dermatitis herpetiformis (DH).
The only treatment for celiac disease is a strict avoidance of all food and drink that contains gluten. This can be difficult, since so much of the food and drink we consume uses gluten as one of its ingredients.
The Canadian Celiac Association notes that celiac disease affects one in every 135 people.
- Abdominal swelling
- Appetite – eating a lot but not gaining weight
- Attendance may be affected
- Behavioural changes
- Bone pain
- Diarrhea – may need to go to the washroom often
- Difficulty concentrating
- Growth delays
- Joint pain
- Skin – may develop a burning itching rash or small itchy blisters on the skin
- Swelling of the abdomen
- Tooth enamel loss or discoloration
- Very dry skin
- Weight loss or weight gain
- Meet with the parents. If you notice this pattern of indicators, you may suggest that the family consult their family doctor. If the student has a diagnosis already, the family will likely be working with their doctor, a dietician/nutritionist, and possibly the Celiac Association in their area.
- A child who has just received a diagnosis may be experiencing reactions and feelings of grief and loss of what had been a normal life for him/her. The child’s perceptions about his/her life and future may have just been altered in a significant way. Be sensitive and supportive about this.
- Notify your student support team about the situation.
- Let parents know about any changes you notice in attention, fatigue, behaviour, or other things you may notice.
- Create a gluten free environment in your classroom, and as much as possible, in the school in general.
- To create a gluten free environment, avoid having any of the following in your classroom:
- Cold cuts, hot dogs, salami, sausages, or other processed meats
- Baked goods
- Dry roasted nuts
- Processed fruit or vegetables
- French fries
- Salad dressings
- Potato chips
- Soy nuts
- Soy sauce
- Processed meats or sausages
- With the permission of the parents and student educate the other students about:
- Bringing appropriate snacks
- Not sharing food
- Handwashing and cleaning areas where food has been
· Seat the student close to the exit and allow open washroom privileges.
· If a more private washroom facility exists in the school, allow this student access to it.
· Have some gluten free snack items in storage in case of emergency (ie. When others bring unsafe snacks to be shared.)
· Make sure that any used food containers are thoroughly cleaned before using them to store classroom items in.
- Watch the use of food items for non-food purposes in your classroom
- If you have a sensory table, avoid pasta, flour and grains. Use beans and rice as alternatives instead.
- If students cook in the classroom, have them use gluten free materials.
- Instead of math or science activities with cereals, or M & Ms, do counting and sorting activities with other materials.
- In art or craft activities:
- Check to see that crayons, pastes, paints, and clays do not contain grain products.
- If you are making papier mache, use rice flour instead of wheat flour.
- Avoid pudding, pasta, cereal, and regular playdough. Use the rice flour & corn starch recipe to make safe playdough
- Mix ½ cup rice flour, ½ cup cornstarch, ½ cup salt, 2 teaspoons of cream of tartar, 1 cup of water, 1 teaspoon of cooking oil, and food colouring together. Put in a pot and cook and stir on low heat for about 3 minutes or until it forms a ball. When cooled, store it in an airtight bag or container.
- Watch out for stickers and envelopes that require licking. The gum may make the student sick.
- Be prepared to accommodate for missed classes or days at school.
- You can order good materials from the Canadian Celiac Association (www.celiac.ca) including a brochure for teachers, and a pocket dictionary listing food ingredients.
- Fresh meats, fish, and poultry
- Fresh fruit and vegetables
- Dried fruit
- Cheddar cheese cubes
- Pumpkin or sunflower seeds
- Corn chips and corn nuts
- Carrot and/or celery sticks GF yogurt
- Fruit popsicles (always check to see if GF)
- Rice crackers
- Gluten-free fruit juices, granola bars
Canadian Celiac Association.
Canadian Celiac Society Edmonton Chapter.
Celiac Disease Foundation.
The Celiac Site.
The Celiac Sprue Association.
Childrens’ Hospital Boston.
Very Well.com: Celiac Disease
Your regional chapter of the Celiac Association.
Sample Letter for Parents
This is to let you know that one of our students has been diagnosed with celiac disease, which is a non-contagious autoimmune disorder. Celiac disease is triggered by the consumption of gluten, a product that is contained in many of our processed foods and drinks.
We have discussed this condition with the class and told our students about how to help their classmate. The most important strategies that we have asked our students to follow are:
·Not sharing food with each other;
·Washing hands carefully after handling food;
·Cleaning desks and other areas after food has been there;
·If bringing snacks to share with classmates, ensuring that they are gluten free.
Further information on celiac disease is available from the Canadian Celiac Association website at www.celiac.ca or by contacting our area chapter at ....
Thank you very much for supporting a healthy environment for all of our students.