Sunday, February 3, 2013

Can My Child With Allergies Live A Normal Life?

I've heard successful adults with disabilities say they owe their success to their parents, who didn't treat them any differently then their siblings.  Is it because that child was expected to participate and not given excuses to fall back on, that they became successful? That just may be the secret.  If we raise our children with too many restrictions, we teach them excuses and anxiety.  But if we raise our children with the tools to protect themselves, we raise confident successful children.



Have you heard of Bonner Paddock?  He is the first person with cerebral palsy to climb Mt. Kilimanjaro unassisted.  Please, please, please, please, PLEASE watch this video.  I beg you.  It can change how you raise your child with allergies.



Teach our children with allergies to have mental strength and confidence!

Don't misunderstand me and assume I mean that your peanut allergy child should go get a job making peanut butter.  Of course there has to be SOME restrictions to keep them safe.  Many times though I think our fear causes us to put our children into a protective bubble and expect the world to change for our child.  But there is a reality.  Our children CAN live a normal life.  We just need the tools from the very beginning to instill in our children to do so.

We already have to tell our children "No, you can't eat that, you're allergic" but do we really have to go as far as telling them "No, you can't go to that party, there's food there, it's not safe".  I've heard it before, I've read it before, and I believe it is the #1 cause of the anxiety in food allergic children.  By telling our children that because their allergenic foods will be somewhere in a building that it isn't safe for you to be in is, in my opinion, the wrong way to approach it.  That child will grow up with a fear and anxiety to do anything.  How is that any way to live?

Now, I know as a parent of a child with severe multiple allergies that in the beginning it does feel as if you can't do anything.  There are restrictions of what is safe and what is not.  But it's very important that we think clearly as to what is the reality and what is our worst fear.  Instilling our fear into our children will not keep them safe, it will not raise awareness, it will not allow them to live a normal life.

Sloane Miller recently stated at the EpiPen® Summit by Mylan Specialty L.P. (the makers of EpiPen) "You cannot eliminate risk, you can manage risk".  That, my dear friends, is what I'm talking about.  We should not expect the world to change for our children (even if it does mean we would finally be able to relax).  We should not use scare tactics to communicate the severity of allergies to our children and others.  We should not use exaggerated possibilities as the norm.  We need to just deal with the facts, focus on properly educating our children and give them mental strength.  Who knows...maybe some day it'll be our kids saying "I am who I am because of my parents, they believed in me and didn't treat me any differently".

-Elizabeth

5 comments:

  1. Love this post - you are so right! We should not treat our food allergic children as though they are special or different. No child should be raised that way in my opinion. They should be allowed to live life normally, aware of what can happen, knowledgeable about how to manage their food allergies, and ready for (but not fearful of) an allergic reaction at any time. As parents, our jobs are to empower our children with food allergies, so they can truly live their lives.

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  2. This is so interesting. As a new mother learning about my little one's allergies, I do not want to shelter her from anything but have her learn to adapt to life with her allergies. And it is correct to say the world would not change because my child has food allergies therefore it is important for me to tell my little to adapt to the world although she has allergies.

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  3. I appreciate this post -- I really do. But as a mom to a 18 mo old with multiple severe food allergies and 2 ER trips already under my belt, I just don't think I am ready to hear or accept this message. I live with a lot of fear. The thought of him in kindergarten, sitting at the same table as someone with a peanut butter sandwich, a substance which in my mind is equal to a highly lethal poison, scares me to death.

    But don't get me wrong - I want to get to this point. I just don't know how.

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  4. It is very hard when our children are too young to understand the severity of their allergies. They need us to protect them and educate them to protect themselves. I think this can be done without scaring them which, in my opinion, causes unneeded stress and anxiety. Teach them how to responsibly live among allergens, not fear them. Teach them to treat their allergens similar to bleach, it has it's uses but never touch it or put it in your mouth because it's harmful to your body.

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  5. This is a great post. Now more than ever, children seem to be developing severe allergies to common day things around them. I wonder why this is? I am noticing my son may be displaying signs of an allergy to dogs so I will be taking him to see an allergist.

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