My children have many friends who suffer from a variety of food allergies, most of which are anaphylactic. They occasionally come to our house for lunch and dinner, and I’ve been known to feed those kids classroom and after-school snacks. I’m very cautious when feeding them, as anyone would be.
Last week, the annual Congress of the Humanities and Social Sciences was held in Windsor, Ontario, and academics gathered to discuss everything from book censorship to brand power. For the first time, a small study was done—and shared—on the social implications of children who live with food allergies. Researchers presented that these young people often suffer from loneliness and social isolation.
The kids that were interviewed for the research (all ages 8 to 16) shared tales of the barriers that make them feel ‘different’: being invited to birthday parties and not being able to eat the food served; having to sit far away from kids who are eating possible contaminated items; needing to take the time to read ingredient labels before eating something; having to avoid most restaurants, fast food outlets and variety stores that their friends are frequenting; walking around with an EpiPen at all times; and generally feeling nervous, anxious and embarrassed over their situation.
I was saddened to learn that young kids are feeling this way but it makes sense to me. Because some of those who were interviewed are now in their early teens, I’m wondering if things have gotten better for the younger kids who suffer, due to more social awareness surrounding the allergies. Experts seem to think so, now that Ontario has passed the Sabrina Law (schools need to be trained in anaphylaxis care and have an action plan in place).
I’m curious though, if your child is anaphylactic, or suffering from any kind of food allergies, is it any better for them socially than the kids who were interviewed for the study? Is there anything that other parents and friends can do to help them feel less isolated?