Experience from a parent:

  Addressing a Health Problem at Wellington School in Sioux Lookout


My name is Pauline Salo, and my son started a new school (grades 7-8) in September of 2000. From the first day in the school he felt ill. His head would be fuzzy, his limbs go numb, he gets heavy duty headaches that last for days, he can't breathe, his asthma flares up, he feels heat in his chest and head, he has difficulty concentrating, talking, walking, etc.

At first it was difficult for us to believe that there was anything wrong with my son because, by the time he walked home, after feeling ill at school, he looked fine. As the weeks turned into months it took him longer to recuperate from these bouts. Finally he couldn't even walk home from school he was so weak.

I finally pulled him out of school when he collapsed in the bathroom of the school and one of the teachers escorted him to the emergency room at the hospital (this was late October 2000). We made arrangements to see an allergist and the last 3 weeks before Christmas, we were able to get a tutor for him (paid by the school board for 7 hours a week). We were told by the allergist to try him again in the school after the Christmas break with the possibility that the medication he was on would alleviate the symptoms he was having. We did so and, my son's symptoms returned swiftly and he was sent home at 9:30 a.m. the first day back. He has been home since and we are trying to once again find a tutor for him.

The school principal has cooperated with us in that, when I requested that the students and staff not wear perfumes, the principal acted quickly. He talked to staff and each individual class about a perfume free school (students are sent home to wash if they smell strongly of perfume.) An air quality test was done at the school, but I have received differing views on the results. Some of the cleaners used at the school were changed to non-perfume ones. The problems for my sons are not over. These changes have not alleviated his reactions to something in the school. He did not have any of these reactions at the JK to 6 school he attended last year.

The teachers are helping out in that they are providing him with the school work he needs to keep up with his school. They also looked out for him and for signs of distress.

My son is 12 years and he really would like to go to school. When we were trying to decide what to do, he came out with a schedule for the work he would complete every day. So far, so good. June however is a long way away.

I have been in contact with Karen Wilson of S.A.F.E. (School Parents Against Fungal Exposure) in Thunder Bay, Ontario and she has been a great help in giving me information. Her encouragement has helped keep my head above water as this is a very stressful time for our family.

The board is in the process of building a new school (JK to 8) but this school will only be ready in January of 2001 at the earliest. I don't know if the new school will solve the problem for my child.

I cannot emphasize enough the great support the principal has given us to help Davin out. When we were informed we had a 3 to 4 months wait to get an appointment to see the allergist, the principal called the allergist and got the apointment a week later. We also requested that Davin sit in during school time at the elementary school he attended last year to see if he reacted at that school (same principal at both schools). Davin was fine in the classroom except when the art supplies came out. At that point Davin removed himself from the classroom.

Also, just before Christmas a company from Kenora did an air quality test in the school. The results are not in yet.

Thanks for listening.

  Submitted February 5, 2001
by Pauline Salo, Sioux Lookout, Ontario

Pauline Salo may be reached at pauline.salo@sl.kpdsb.on.ca. Karen Wilson and S.A.F.E. (School Parents Against Fungal Exposure) can be reached at gkwilson@microage-tb.com.

  Experience Record #5, revised 2/15/2001

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