Food Allergy Awareness Week: May 5-8 in Canada, May 10-16 in the United States
10 Things Children with Food Allergies Want You to Know
by Gina Clowes of www.allergymoms.com
1. I long to be included. I would like to look, act and eat like everyone else. I’d like to buy my lunch and sit wherever I want. I know I can’t, but I am so happy inside when someone cares enough to provide a safe potato chip, cookie or Popsicle for me. It’s nice when I can have something similar to what others are eating but I love it when I can eat the same thing as everyone else. Whenever it’s possible, please think to include me!
2. I’m scared I could die from my food allergies. I’ve heard my parents and teachers mention “life-threatening” food allergies and I remember having some reactions where I felt very sick and really scared. I could see how frightened my parents were too. Sometimes, I could use a little reassurance that I will be okay.
3. I feel like I’m the only one sometimes. If you have a support group or another way to arrange for me to meet other children who have food allergies, I would really like to know that I am not the only kid who has food allergies. Having another friend with food allergies in my classroom or at lunch time helps too.
4. I get confused when grown-ups offer me food. I know I’m supposed to be polite and listen to grown-ups, but my parents have told me I am only supposed to take food from them. When you offer me food or especially candy, I’d like to take it but I’m not sure about what I am supposed to do.
5. I get itchy spots sometimes when grown-ups kiss me after they’ve eaten something I’m allergic to. I get itchy spots when your dog licks me too. I’m not quite brave enough to tell you this so I’m hoping you will remember that if you have just eaten something that I’m allergic to, I may get hives if you kiss me soon afterward.
6. I’m embarrassed when people fuss over what I’m eating. I know I have to eat my own safe food, but it’s easier for me when I’m not singled out. Sometimes, it’s embarrassing when grown-ups ask lots of questions. I love to fit in more than anything.
7. I hear all adult conversations about my food allergies. My ears perk up when I hear grown-ups mention my name or food allergies, so don’t pity me or act terrified because then I get scared. Food allergies are just one part of me. Let me overhear you talk about all the other wonderful things about me!
8.Sometimes I’m sad about having food allergies. It’s hard to be the only kid in class not having a cupcake and eating something different from my box of “safe treats” especially when there are about 20 other birthdays in my class. I know it’s not the end of the world, but from my perspective, it’s tough at times.
9. I’m watching you—Mom and Dad! You may think that I’m too little to notice, but I see that you went back home to get my Epi-Pen® when you forgot it. I see that you read the ingredients on the Smarties every time. You are my role models and I am learning how to manage my food allergies from you!
10. I will do about as well as you do. My parents “can-do” attitude will help me cope with the challenges of living with allergies and ensure that food allergies don’t stop me from being everything I was meant to be!
Reprinted with the permission of Gina Clowes