Tuesday, 3 February 2015

Allergies and Kids

This blog is in response to this news cast from CTV News Edmonton back in January.

I don't usually use my blog to post, or pontificate, my views on things that could be seen as political or even emotional.  I don't want my blog to be a fighting ground but every once in awhile something is brought to my attention and I'm like,"yikes, that would not be good." So I'm going to share my views on this article, and I'm definitely not a supporter, so if you are with this mom and feel she is right and that's how schools should be you should stop reading now, because you probably won't like my opinion.  But if you are interested in seeing a new view then please continue reading.  I will post all comments I just won't respond to negative bashing comments.

So a little background for those of you that did not click the link, a mother wants the Alberta Government to adopt a law like the one in Ontario that forbids children from bringing foods that could cause allergies to school, i.e. peanuts, eggs, milk, shellfish etc. And that's where my issues begin.

First, depending on others to be cognizant of your child's needs is a problem.  I'm not saying you shouldn't ask for help of people that have contact with your child to help out, but to be dependent on them to do this is where you will see problems.  People are all quite self centred, let's be real, you are concerned with what is going on in your immediate circle, your family close friends, and after that your secondary circle, friends and co-workers maybe classmates but you aren't always thinking about everyone. It just doesn't happen, you can't keep everyone's needs in your head at all time, you'd never finish anything if that's what you were thinking about so we are programmed to think about ourselves, and those we interact with daily.   So if I were a parent of a child with a severe allergy, depending on the whole school, all parents and children, to think about my child's needs everyday would be a secondary precaution I would put into place.

Secondly, this allergy is so severe by the mother's own account, that she can react to traces that are carried in or to someone's make up.  That's scary, and if my child had that severe of an allergy I don't think I'd want to trust that everyone would always know this.  It's fine to ask the school to ban milk from the school and dairy products too I guess, but how many people come in and out of the school. After the first month of the child going to the school, eventually people will get used to it and they will just avoid sending dairy products to the school, but then a substitute teacher will come in and maybe they won't know, or a guest speaker, or a secondary professional.  Banning milk may help and the other children won't bring it in, but it's not a perfect solution and it really does impede other people's rights as well.

I'm not saying the child shouldn't be allowed to go to school, but I always have issues with schools forbidding foods in because of the restrictions they impose on others.  My oldest had an anaphylactic reaction when he was in Kindergarten. It was scary, and what's more scary is we still do not know what the reaction was too, but my suspicion is Mangos, should I ask that all schools ban Mangos so he doesn't get exposed to them?  We went two years where we thought it might be peanut butter until we did an oral challenge at the hospital, turns out it wasn't.  I didn't ask the school to ban peanuts, but I did ask them to only provide my son with treats I provided, and that all the parents in his class be made aware of his potential allergy.  I did not want to make extra work for anyone or to cause undo stress on others because my son had an allergy.  I taught my son to read labels (this was before things came with the peanut free pictures), I taught him to ask others if he wasn't sure.  I gave him the skills to know what he could or could not have.

Banning food seems akin to banning books.  It's not good.  And I have to think about things from a larger perspective.  For many years peanut butter sandwiches were a lunch staple, every kid had them and they were decent nutrition wise.  Now kids can't have Peanut Butter sandwiches so they bring cheezwhiz sandwiches, or lunch meat sandwiches or the lunch-ables.  If the parents are well educated or are not living on social assistance the lunches are healthier, more fruits and vegetables but not everyone can afford that.  And that's where banning certain foods because of allergies could cause some real nutrition deficits at lunch for some kids.

I don't think the child should not be allowed to go to school, or that the child should go to a special school, but if the allergy is that severe, again I would not be dependent on others to keep my child safe, I would provide my child with the skills they needed to stay safe.  Kids can do many things for themselves so why are we setting up societies that expect everyone else to do everything for them?

That's my biggest issue, there is a phenomenon happening right now, where kids that have always had everything done for them are becoming adults and are entering the work force but have no work ethic, yet they don't understand why they can't keep a job.  Life doesn't work like that, kids need to be taught to do what they can at the appropriate age otherwise there is going to be a larger problem in the near future.

I'm in no way saying this parent is wrong for doing everything she can for her child, she should and I applaud her for that.  But don't look down on me when I'm going to fight for my child to still be allowed to enjoy a yogurt at school or a chocolate milk.  Sometimes the only milk kids get is at school.  I'm just saying maybe there's a better way then putting a blanket law out for all kids, I mean the poor dairy farmer kids are probably covered in milk protein and would just cause this child to react if they came into the school.  Fair is not equal and equal is not fair.

My suggestion to this mom is she work with her child's school, specifically her classroom.  This mom should draft a letter to each parent in her child's grade or maybe the school population.  Maybe she could speak at a PTA meeting and they could come up with a game plan. But to spread this law across the province or to all schools that her child may never go to seems a bit grandiose and unnecessary.

And to be fair I may not understand this law or what it actually means for the impact on the greater population. I did look into Sophie's Law but it's vague, but it does say that kids with allergies should get a specialized program, so maybe this wouldn't be as big of an impact as the news hinted, but that is what the news does, passes on a little information to get the public all worked up.

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