Today’s Wall Street Journal online highlights a food allergic family who has found that schools and parents are more accepting of their allergic children due to increased knowledge about food allergies. The article (click here to read) is written by Liz Rappaport whose child also has food allergies.
Let’s face it, no one wants to be the “peanut allergic family” that ruins lunch for other people’s children because they have to send soy-nut butter instead of peanut butter. I, for one, have been “that Mom” and have had comments from other parents like “Wow, good thing my other child isn’t in your daughter’s class, she will ONLY eat peanut butter for lunch!” I’ve been the Mom who talks to the teacher requesting no peanut snacks in the classroom. I’ve been the Mom recommending hand washing after lunch, and have even stood with a box of wipes as children returned from the playground. I’m the Mom who shows up at school with epi-pens and epi-trainers to show teachers how to use them. I’m the Mom that notices when people are scared of the epi-pen and convinces people that it is life-saving medication.
“Stacey Saiontz, in Westchester, N.Y., worked with legislators in her state to draft a bill that would require teachers to be trained to administer epinephrine before they can be certified to teach in the state.
Kids need to be able to get this medicine in a matter of minutes,” Ms. Saiontz says. Nurses now keep epinephrine prescribed for children often locked in the nurse’s office. Ms. Saiontz’s son, Jared, age 4, is allergic to dairy, egg, nuts and many grains including wheat. Jared attends a preschool that stocks epinephrine in his classroom.
As children get older, the awareness their parents fought hard to bring can start to seem like unwanted attention.
Ms. Rudnicki, in Chicago, says that as her son has gotten older, he is more self-conscious about his allergies. He doesn’t want to be the reason that his friends can’t eat something they want.
And the above aptly describes our child, now in high school, who doesn’t want to be different. It is no longer necessary for our child to have a “peanut free” table in the lunchroom. And indeed, we haven’t done that since fourth grade. As our allergic children grow, it is up to us, in an age appropriate way, to change the way in which we manage navigating life with our children’s food allergy. It is up to us to put the day to day management in their hands, to listen to what they need, and to help them negotiate the world – a world full of food that they must avoid.