I keep hearing the argument over and over. Why should MY kid suffer because your freak kid has allergies. And every time I hear it it breaks my heart. Because it shows how souless and selfish we have become as a society. Callous. Uncaring. Hateful. Self centered. And just. Plain. STUPID. I will tell you why…
A couple of months ago, one of the students in our school went into anaphylactic shock after getting a drink from the same water cooler a student touched after eating a PB cup in his car on the way to class. He washed his hands but must not have done a good job. Several years ago I had an infant with a peanut allergy go into shock when a teacher with PB on her breath was playing a game where she blew little puffs if air in the babies face. Thankfully as a food allergy momma myself, I was able to step in and quickly clear her airway and get her an pen administered. But there are just too many tragic stories of children who die from accidental contact.
Just recently, a 13 year old girls last words to her mom were I’m sorry, as she died from anaphylaxis. (You can read a commentary here: http://blogs.babycenter.com/mom_stories/08302013teen-apologizes-dies-peanut-allergy/)
I am proudly an allergen nazi of sorts making sure my school stays clear of anything that could hurt my students. My son is case in point. He has a severe dairy allergy. Not lactose. Milk protein. Its been a battle to both explain it, (“Oh, he is fine, just give him lactaid!”) AND to watch him looking so sad when all the other kids are having an ice cream party and he is stuck with a crappy ice pop. Or to see friends having cookies and cakes and other goodies at school, and to have to either eat a super healthy but not always super yummy alternative, or to see him turn down food from friends because he might be allergic. Inclusion reduces bullying. Before I adamantly advocated for him to be included with the other students at the cafeteria table, as kids were teasing him for being a “weirdo” eating “funny stupid foods” my son felt the shame. And this was from KINDERGARTENERS! He hates his allergy and tells me daily he wishes he could just eat like normal kids.
I have heard the argument over and over, why accommodate the child with the allergy who is in the minority, and my very valid argument back is, why exclude a child even further who already feels ostracized?