Monday, December 10, 2012

Food Allergies - The Ignored Disability

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This article from a Canadian Scouter truly reflects a lot of my feelings towards food allergies.  R is gluten intolerant and because it is not a “deadly” allergy, many people discount it as a problem.  Often, even at extended family gatherings, people don’t consider him.

An example of this was when we went out to visit members of our family who were camping.  We brought out our own food so that I could be sure that there would be something R could eat.  When I watched people serving, they often used the same spoon to scoop the regular pasta salad as the gluten free potato salad.  When I brought it to their attention that this cross contamination could cause R to have a reaction and he no longer could eat it, they didn’t seem to get it.  I got the “you’re over-reacting” look.  One person even commented that R would just get the runs for a while and that it wasn’t a serious reaction.  Anyone who suffers from gluten or lactose or other non-deadly allergies knows that it isn’t a minor reaction.  Often a lot of pain and discomfort is involved and it is even worse when you are at a function and can’t even suffer in your own home.

This is one of many examples that our own family doesn’t respect this disability.  If this is what we get from people who love us, how can we expect different from strangers?  We know there will be cross contamination at any restaurant, eating at a friend’s, school functions, etc.  It never ends.  R often says, “why can’t I just be normal?”.  We do our best to offer substitutions and R’s teacher is fantastic in letting me know when something is coming up so I can send in a substitution for R but this is when he doesn’t want to be “special”.

It is so nice to see that Scouts Canada has recognized disabilities and that this Scout Group is including food allergens as part of those disabilities so that the kids can be part of the group and be “special” by their accomplishments and character rather than by how they were born.  Way to go Scouts!

Take Care, D


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