Thursday, February 27, 2014

School, Allergies and Emotions

School is hard. Not the academic stuff, although that may be hard for some, but the social intricacies of being a kid and finding your niche. Add to the mix food allergies and you've got a recipe for some very difficult emotional situations for a child. Adults with celiac disease, anaphylaxis, diabetes or other dietary restrictions have trouble dealing with feelings of exclusion when not partaking in the food at a celebration or gathering. Yet we ask kids to deal with this at school on a regular basis.

I can tell you that my oldest who has been dealing with it for 3 years of elementary still has trouble processing it. There's an event tomorrow and when he heard that it was based around food that he can't have he choked back the tears until after school. He let the river flow when he got home. I know in the long run he will be resilient and empathetic because of these challenges. It still hurts my heart to watch him. His feelings are real, I'm not going to tell him to suck it up and deal with it. He does when he's at school. He lets them out when he gets home. My middle child is celiac and we will be dealing with this again starting in September when she goes to Kindie.

Every year I talk to his teacher and let them know the extent of his allergy. I ask for warning before events with food so I can prepare him and send some suitable substitute. I ask that when the notifications about allergies go out that his be included so that parents are aware. He still feels 'different'. It's not about the treat it's about the feelings of participation and inclusion. I understand that if it's not on your radar it is difficult to be aware of this at all times when choosing treats. I don't expect parents to always have my kids or others with allergies on their mind. So I have another suggestion.

Here's my wild notion: Let's take the food out of the celebration at school. Let's think outside the box and use non food ways to celebrate like games and activities.

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