Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Questions from an allergy child

I was so pleased the other day when an overseas friend visited our house. We were all seated around the dining table with a large platter of cheese, crackers and fruit in the centre. Our son had a serve of fruit for himself, as he often does. I told him not to touch the plate since it had cow's milk cheese as well as nuts on it. He proceeded to tell our guest that he was allergic to cow's milk, and nuts, and also eggs. He explained that he can't touch those things because it will make him sick. He also told her not to touch him if her hands are dirty because that will make him sick too.

I am so proud of our little guy and the way he understands and communicates to others about his allergies. I believe informing him about his allergies in an age-appropriate way has meant that he can understand the effects, and also why he isn't allowed to have many things. Thankfully this has meant we hardly have any tantrums when it comes to food restrictions. Of course, I always have a stash of alternative treats so that he's not totally left out, especially at parties. Tantrums when it comes to TV or tidying up, well that's another story altogether!

Here is a list so far of the questions our amazing 3 year old son has asked us about his allergies... along with some answers, just in case you encounter the same questions along the way. Some of these questions seem very basic, but I think it is important to address each one truthfully and frame it in a way small children will understand so that they can learn how to manage their food allergies.

Q: "Why do you and me have allergies?"
A: "I don't know. Everyone is a little bit different - it's called being UNIQUE"

Q: "Who else has allergies?"
A: "Mum is allergic to wine and beer. Grandma is allergic to flowers (hayfever). Grandpa is allergic to the sun (some lack of melatonin pigmentation). Did you know Vampires are allergic to the sun too?"

Q: "When I grow big, as big as the sky, I'll be able to eat cow's milk and eggs."
A: "When you were just a baby, you couldn't even drink Soy milk, but now you drink heaps... so maybe! We just have to wait to ask the doctor first, to make sure you don't get sick."

Q: "Is my baby brother allergic to cow's milk?"
A: "Your baby brother is too small to drink cow's milk, he can only have mummy's special milk, otherwise he will get sick." Our son's reply, "That means he is allergic, because he will get sick!" Since then, our son has gone on to tell his baby brother (2 months old), that he can't eat a whole range of things because he's allergic.

Q: "I can't eat Yoghurt can I?"
A: "If it's cow's milk yoghurt you can't, since it will make you sick. But if it's Soy yoghurt you can!"

If you've been tossed a curve ball question, please let me know and even better, let me know your answer so I can have it on hand when it's our turn!


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