Friday, May 15, 2009

Holy Advice, Batman!

To wrap up Food Allergy Awareness Week, here's the rest of the Q and A.

LoriD asks, "When hosting a party where an allergic child will be present (in this case it's a peanut allergy), what should the party host look out for? The party is at a bowling alley and I already asked if there are any peanut issues with the menu items I chose. What kinds of questions should I ask? What precautions should I take?"

I always start with the parents of the allergic child. Make sure they feel welcome to stay at the party, and let them know what is being served. Provide labels for them to read if possible, and be understanding if they choose to bring separate foods for the allergic child. If they choose not to stay at the party, make sure you know where the child's medications are and how to contact the parents. Call them if you are unsure about anything. They won't mind.

I would also wipe down the area with wet wipes, wipe off the bowling ball the child is going to use, etc., just in case.

Jennifer asks, "I would love to read tips about allergies and summer activities such as half-day programs at museums or churches or parks/zoos. I find it a tough line to walk. When I call ahead of time, I can talk to the director and feel all reassured, but it's usually teens or college students who staff these programs and actually serve up the snacks. I know at 6 he's getting old enough that if I go in the first day and make a big point of talking to the staff, he's going to be embarrassed and singled out. Really he does a pretty good job of watching out for himself at this point. So hmm. What do others do?"

Personally, I think you can never be too careful. For example, a child may think that the pretzels (or whatever) being served are safe, but actually they are a different, unsafe brand. I know it's embarrassing to kids when you talk to the staff, but I'd much rather my child be embarrassed then have a life-threatening reaction. I also wrote about this topic in these posts:
Amusing? Sometimes
The Greek Chorus
On Cupcakes and Parties

Not Your Aunt Bea asks, "Summer fun with food allergies- fun recipes the kids can help make that are yummy and summery OR summer travel trips with food allergies. With it being in the 90's already here, it is hard to pack stuff that won't spoil.
Anyone? Anyone?"

Here are some posts that might help:
Eating Out
Rhubarb Dump Cake
Zucchini Brownies
Star Wars Party
Wizard of Oz Party
(They don't have to be birthday parties.)

Please join in here with your thoughts, and/or at the Food Allergy Twitter Party tonight at 10:30 pm EST. #foodallergy

5 comments:

  1. I found the advice for LoriD helpful, as I don't have children with food allergies, but they do have friends with severe nut and egg allergies. Thanks!

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  2. Thank you for doing this blog. I find seeing how others handle the same challenges very helpful -- even, or maybe even especially, when I do something differently. I am going to respectfully disagree at never being too careful, although I know this is a minority viewpoint. I think there can be a very real emotional and social cost to being "too careful." Do I want to keep my child safe? "Yes totally," but I also don't want him to define himself by his allergies and I don't want to make it harder than necessary for him to fit in. The school this year, for instance, offered to put him at a separate table for meals. He is allergic to dairy and eggs. If he gets dairy on him, he will have a contact reaction of hives 99.9 percent of the time. It's quite possible sitting next to the other milk-drinking, cheese-sandwich-eating kids that would happen. I guess you never know what kind of reaction that would trigger since he still tests off the charts for dairy, but I've never seen it escalate to the point where his asthma kicks in and he has breathing issues. I think it would be isolating and stigmatizing to separate him or to require his friends to be dairy free to sit with him. At this age (he's 6), he starting to really want to fit in. There's a definite risk to putting him in that situation with food that he's allergic to next to him, but I think it's worth it. He is the most careful kid I know about not eating something he hasn't cleared, so more often now I also am letting him help navigate the way even when I am sure sometimes it would be safer for me to go in and make a fuss and make sure everyone knows his history and medical issues or to just keep him home (which by far would be the safest). I think these are experiences he needs to start having more and more for his own emotional growth. I also know my answer would be different if he had a different temperament, say he were shy about approaching adults or didn't follow rules. My answer was certainly different when he was younger, although even then I tried not to let it be the no. 1 factor in why we did or didn't do something. Jennifer

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  3. Jennifer,

    Thank you for sharing your point of view. I think you need a blog! :)

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  4. Love the dump cake idea! I had forgotten all about it. And the birthday parties- you are the birthday party queen! Can't wait to try some of the ideas when my girls are older. How fun!

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  5. Thank you! I wouldn't have thought to wipe down the balls, but I will difinitely do that.

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