Sunday, November 11, 2012

Respecting allergies

Sometimes your kids are so much smarter than you give them credit for.

In my job, I am lucky enough to receive hundreds of books (mainly kids’ books) to review. This means that I am fairly picky when it comes to children’s books and I thought I could have a pretty good guess at which ones my kids would like, love and which they would want to read over and over again. 

Recently I have been stumped by my daughter’s choice of regular reader. She has chosen a nicely illustrated book about food allergies. The story is simple and the message is clear. It is the story of a 2 year old boy with severe food allergies who goes to a party. For those of you who read my posts regularly you will know my daughter has type 1 diabetes, but this does not stop her from being able to eat any foods. After reading the book for about the 25th time, I asked her why she liked it. She explained to me that she loves how Thai (the boy in the book) doesn’t have to miss out on anything at the party (his mum has pre-prepared everything that is needed) and that because everyone looks out for him he can be normal too. My daughter is only 3 years old. 

This had me reflecting on how poor I can be about respecting food allergies. On a recent visit to our hospital for my daughter’s quarterly review I asked her if she wanted a peanut butter sandwich that day (as I always take a complete day of meals to save any issues with carb counting or lack of healthy choices at the hospital). She didn’t want peanut butter, but it didn’t occur to me until I got home that night and was on the internet that I could have put children’s lives at risk. Another mother who had been at the hospital that day complained on Facebook about the types of foods parents had with their kids, and only then did I realise that I could have been endangering any number of kids.

Since then I have been making more of an effort to try and understand more about intolerances and allergies, but boy it is confusing and there is so much conflicting (and frankly, in some cases patronising for those with allergies) information.

So for those parents out there with kids with food allergies, I would love to hear your story. How can I and other parents help to make the lives of your kids easier? What would you like us to do or not do? And what would you like us not to say to you or your kids?

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