Note from Miss Allergic Reactor: My mom is enjoying being a contributing writer to my blog. Here is my mom’s third post: how I was taught to live with food allergies.
How did we teach Miss Allergic Reactor about living with her food allergies? While it’s been many years since…it was honestly our philosophy that guided us. Our goal from her very first reaction was to give her the tools to navigate not only the essential task of eating for nourishment…but to enjoy both the socialness of food and the pleasure of food. It was a tall task. Some of the tools that we engaged her in were: the language of her food allergies; we baked together so that she could have a basic understanding that lots of “foods” have “ingredients”; we used the words “safe” and “NOT safe” for all food; we had her use her Epi-trainor for role playing and instruction to others; we started with a few “safe” adults; we taught her, by modeling, about the important chat with all restaurant managers or owners; we always engaged her in the “list” of what you need whenever you leave the house; ( Epi, Benedryl and safe snack food); and she had a medic alert bracelet from a very early age and could tell us it was her allergy bracelet.
Within her protected world, we always strived to have decisions that our daughter could control. Whether it was which flavor of Teddy Grahams she wanted to share on a play date or did she want to eat her pizza with her hands or cut up. It did seem that the more she could “control,” the less frustration she experienced. That being said, there is frustration for allergic children that is unavoidable. Spontaneity is challenging. And there are many “non-negotiables.” So even though we knew that life didn’t always seem fair to our daughter…..she seemed to gauge her level of distress by our level of composure. This worked most of the time.
Best wishes…and here’s to a future in which anaphylactic allergies are able to be altered by science such that they pose only a nuisance factor!