Do you feel like no one gets it? Do you feel like you are always begging and pleading for your child’s safety? It’s exhausting. I get it.
I recently had a conversation with a good friend. She is empathetic to the struggles of both food allergy moms and the children they protect from the physical and emotional impact of multiple food allergies. Over a glass of wine, I vented about how I wished my work wasn’t needed and how I wished everyone would be as understanding and inclusive as she is.
Then it happened: She said that until she met my husband and me and spent time with our family, she had no idea how much went into keeping our child safe and life as normal as possible for both of our children. She had seen any number of notices come home from school and camp about a child having a food allergy. She confessed that she didn’t give these notices much thought. In her busy life, raising three children, managing her household, and her job, she simply had no time to think about an issue that didn’t directly impact her or her family.
Her inability to focus got me thinking. My friend had no idea how terrifying it was to send a highly allergic child to school or on a play date before she met me. She didn’t understand how exhausting it was to have to plan for every eventuality. Now she realized how challenging it is for those of us who fight these issues every day. It’s a lot to expect of parents who have no experience with managing the environment of a highly allergic child.
Or is it?
Parents are provided with information on just about everything that goes on at school. There are meetings about school safety, how the school is teaching math, what the objectives of the next fundraiser are. Additional information is given at the back to school night, parent-teacher nights, science fairs, and more. Yet little or no time is spent on food allergy awareness. I am sure that every school administrator if they thought about it, would find the time and means to educate parents and students on issues affecting those students impacted by food allergies who reside in their student populations.
This is where I can help you and your school. What parents and schools lack is education. We see some efforts lately; notes go home advising that the school is to be “peanut-free”. While a start, limited actions of this nature are rarely effective and can provide a false sense of security. Plus, this only helps children that are allergic to peanuts. In fact, children with dairy allergies (21.1%) are almost equal in numbers to those with peanut allergies (25.2%)
What is needed is a comprehensive initiative. Let me help you advocate for food allergy education and provide that education for your school and other parents. You don’t need to fight this fight alone.
1. Gupta, R, et al. The Prevalence, Severity, and Distribution of Childhood Food Allergy in the United States. Pediatrics