1 in 13 children in the United States has a food allergy and sadly there are many misconceptions about what it means to raise a child with a life-threatening food allergy. We are not helicopter parents or crazy food haters. We are parents, just like everyone else, trying our best to raise strong children and keep them safe. I have learned over the past few years that there is an important conversation to be had. A dialogue that breaks down the misconceptions about this lifestyle of navigating an invisible disability. Individuals living with a life-threatening food allergy look "normal" because as long as they are not exposed to food allergens they are safe and in good health. The consequences of an exposure are serious, life-threatening, and are not to be joked about or taken lightly.
In an effort to break down some of the misconceptions around raising a child with life-threatening food allergies I am opening up about our journey. Children with food allergies just want to be a kid like their peers. These children like playing sports. They are not sick or weak. They want to play with their peers. They want to be included. They are aware of their differences and yet strive to be seen as regular children. Our story began when Adrian was just a few days old and we knew something was different that our older son. It wasn't until he was four months old that I found the strength to trust my gut and began to dive deeper into what was the root of so many issues we were experiencing. This is when we learned of Adrian's first four life-threatening food allergies. He would face his first anaphylactic reaction at ten months old. He is now four and has experienced six reactions that meet the definition of anaphylaxis.
We have met so many amazing families through our community and are grateful for the ongoing support. We come upon a lot of misunderstandings about what it means to raise a child with life-threatening food allergies, but for the most part there is more good in the world than otherwise. I have learned that education is power and that through the sharing of information this lifestyle becomes less mysterious. Knowledge truly is power for when the time is taken to explain and educate relationships strengthen.
Promoting awareness has been a mission of mine as a way to advocate for my son, however, the conversation is bigger than what transpires in our community. The more we can share of our story the more families we can empower to live outside the stigmas that come with bringing your own cupcakes to a birthday party or the labels that are assigned upon receiving notice that your child is in class with a food-allergic peer. There are children and parents who struggle with managing the lifestyle required when navigating a life-threatening food allergy. A conversation may not satisfy every family's need, but I believe it is a positive starting point. I hope you enjoy getting to know Adrian and a bit more about our journey.
ABOUT CHRISSY K
I am mom to three boys (one with several life-threatening food allergies) who will never own too many picture books or create Pinterest-worthy snacks. Simply Chrissy K is a place to find helpful tips on parenting that stem from my work with families as an educational consultant and parenting coach.
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Based on a work at http://www.strongtots.com