Thursday, January 22, 2009

Emotionally dealing with your child's food allergy

I went to a support group meeting last night and was able to hear Dr. Bennett speak.  She is a child psychologist as well as a mother of a child with a severe food allergy.  (  During the evening she talked about the many stressors that having a child with a severe allergy can cause as well as ways we can cope with the daunting task of raising a child with an allergy.  

One of my favorite quotes from the evening was:

"Fair is not everybody gets the same.  Fair is everybody gets what they need."  

What a great quote on dealing with siblings who do and don't have the same allergy.

Here are a few other things that she mentioned:

Ideas for coping at school:

- help your child know that their body is different but not defective
- help reduce bullying and teasing by having your child report it ASAP to an adult
- find out which adults are EPI Pen trained
- discuss whether or not segregating at lunch is necessary

Ideas for coping any time:

- Cognitive approaches:
Say "It's just my extra things to think about everyday -- like seat belts."
"One day at a time thinking"
"Everyone has a challenge"
"Your words are your best protection"  (Teach your child to know what their allergy is and not to be shy to let others know about it as well.)
- Multimodal language:
Talk it out, read it out, play it out, act it out, draw it out, sing it out (these are different techniques that can be used in helping a child cope with the emotions and fun ways to practice different scenarios, like using an Epi Pen, dealing with saying "no" to food from another person, etc.)
- Situations I cannot change, worries I can fix
- try to separate the two.  There are some things, like the allergy, that you cannot change, however, your emotions linked to having an allergy are worries that can be fixed.  Try to distinguish between the two.
-Emphasize courage and leadership:  Medical bracelet is a "Brave Badge"

Also, it was mentioned the importance of alway having an Epi Pen with you (as necessary depending upon severity of allergy).

There were many touching and heart breaking stories shared about experiences moms have had in watching their child go through anaphylaxis and and the emotions involved.  It was nice to be in a room where people really understood the severity of some food allergies and what it is like living day to day, not knowing whether or not your child will have a reaction.  I was deeply touched for having gone, and it is a reminder that I always need to be vigilant and not let my guard down so long as my son is still highly allergic to milk products.

Some recommended books showcased that night were:

Flourishing With Food Allergies
The Milk Allergy Companion & Cookbook
One of the Gang
What Else is to Eat?

All of those books are available for sale through my website:  You can access them in the Milk Allergy Store under Allergy Cookbooks or Allergy Books & Guides.

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