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PostPosted: Wed Apr 26, 2006 1:56 pm 
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Joined: Sat Apr 16, 2005 12:09 am
Posts: 1054
My husband and I have tried our best to help Ethan understand what it means to have a life threatening allergy. We take every opportunity that comes up to discuss his food allergy with him -- so that one day he can feel confident in his ability to advocate for himself. Trips to the grocery store usually include a game of "what's that" -- showing him peanuts / nuts in various forms and packages (i.e. peanuts with or without their shells on, different types of nuts, peanut butter, etc.) While we do this, I'll include questions like, "what kind of nut is that?", "do we eat nuts?", "why don't we eat nuts?" etc. When we watch TV and a character makes reference to peanuts or peanut butter, I'll ususally say something like, "oh-oh, he's eating peanut butter..." and he'll usually shoot back, "that's ok mommy, he's not allergic". We read books about food allergies. We have him practice with the Epipen trainer (he's very adept at giving mommy and daddy shots!). We talk about reading labels. We've recently started roll play. We've done this from the time that we became aware of his allergy, but when they're so young, you often wonder if any of what you're teaching is sinking in and to what degree they grasp an understanding of their condition. The other night I was pretending to be one of his toy animals talking to him (and not about allergies this time... :roll: ) and on his own said, "hi, I have a food allergy" and went on to tell his stuffed animal that he's allergic to peanuts and tree nuts. He told him that his mommy has to call to make sure that it is safe for him to eat certain foods. He's never done this before and I was sooooo proud!


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PostPosted: Wed Apr 26, 2006 8:08 pm 
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Joined: Fri Apr 15, 2005 10:29 pm
Posts: 76
Location: Markham, Ontario
This is the exact approach I take. Our trips to the grocery store are exactly the same as yours, and I also explain that other people can eat nuts because they aren't allergic, but that DD can eat foods that other people can't. It's a fact of life for her and she's pretty level-headed about it.


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PostPosted: Wed Apr 26, 2006 9:41 pm 
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Joined: Fri Jan 13, 2006 3:29 pm
Posts: 218
Location: Ontario
Thanks very encouraging! Thank you for posting that.

My daughter is almost 2.5. We try to teach her without being overbearing! She wears a Medic-Alert braclet. She knows the answers to all the questions we ask her like "what does your braclet mean" "What are you allergic to" "What happens if you accidently eat peanuts or sesame" (We only focus on those 2 since they're the most severe for her), "where is your epi-pen", etc. And of course showing her peanut products and sesame products in the store.

The other day we were outside playing at the neighbours and she asked me if my daughter could have cheese. After finding out what kind I said sure. So when my neighbour goes in the house to get it I go over some of our food rules. My neigbour gives her the cheese and as she's opening it I ask her agian (since we JUST went through it and she answered the questions correctly) "Name, What do we do when someone gives you food" She answers (as she's opening) "Ask Mommy or Daddy" Then I ask her " What are you suppose to say when someone besides Mommy or Daddy gives you food" Her reply (still opening the cheese!) "No Thankyou".

She's got all the right stuff to say - but she obviously doesn't "get it". She's only 2 though and we've only known about her allergies for the past 7mths . I just need to find a few more "safe" situations to expose her to things like that so we can put those food rules to practice instead of just saying what Mommy wants to hear! :oops:


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PostPosted: Wed Apr 26, 2006 10:19 pm 
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Joined: Tue Mar 22, 2005 11:17 pm
Posts: 6491
Location: Ottawa
Last summer the local support group had a family day at the park. We went and I think it was the first time the our daughter met other people who had allergies. She was amazed that they were allergic to other things.
Since then she has started school where there are several students with food allergies, one friend has developed a food alergy and two have developed intolerances.
She is started to realize that she is not the only one. :)

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Daughter: asthma, allergies to egg, milk, peanuts, tree nuts, most legumes (not soy) & penicillin. Developing hayfever type allergies.
Husband: no allergies
Me: allergies to some tree that flowers in May
Cat: allergic to beef, pork and lamb


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PostPosted: Thu Apr 27, 2006 1:01 am 
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Joined: Mon Mar 20, 2006 3:03 pm
Posts: 105
Location: Coquitlam
Hi,

I need to tell you what I have done. I have done as you have all mentioned about saying no to peanuts about needing to check ingredients etc. My sons are now 4 and 7 so I have added a twist. When we go shopping and I'm walking by the peanut butter section I sometimes say "Oh yeah! thats right we need to buy some peanut butter!" My sons will stop and look at me as if I'm an alien and say "Mom remember we can't have peanuts!" and I'll say "Oh yeah I forgot" Or if There is a commercial on TV I'll ask them "Mmm!doesn't that look good!" or I even ask them "If they want a peanut butter and Jam sandwich for lunch" I do this as a test once in a while just to see if they really are paying attention to what I am saying to them. This way I also know if someone were to ask them how they would actually respond.

Just yesterday I brought my youngest to the park. My girlfriend came as well with her son. (My friend is Ana to treenuts so my son is comfortable with her and food) Well her son gave mine a (peanut free) granola bar. I just stood back and watched to see what would happen. He looked at it and then asked me to open it so I said "Can you eat this?" he responded "Duh mom can't you see the sign!" and pointed to the peanut free symbol.

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Sil


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PostPosted: Thu Apr 27, 2006 5:23 am 
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Joined: Thu Aug 11, 2005 6:48 pm
Posts: 614
Location: Ontario, Canada / Cambridge, UK
mygirlsyd wrote:
She's got all the right stuff to say - but she obviously doesn't "get it". She's only 2 though and we've only known about her allergies for the past 7mths.


Don't worry. She will. You're doing all the right things to make her aware and responsible for her allergy later on in life. My son was almost the same age when he was diagnosed and it's now 6 years later and he has a very good understanding of the situation. He's comfortable speaking of his allergy with others... at school, in restaurants, on airplanes, etc. He knows the right questions to ask.

Sil wrote:
When we go shopping and I'm walking by the peanut butter section I sometimes say "Oh yeah! thats right we need to buy some peanut butter!" My sons will stop and look at me as if I'm an alien and say "Mom remember we can't have peanuts!" and I'll say "Oh yeah I forgot" Or if There is a commercial on TV I'll ask them "Mmm!doesn't that look good!" or I even ask them "If they want a peanut butter and Jam sandwich for lunch" I do this as a test once in a while just to see if they really are paying attention to what I am saying to them. This way I also know if someone were to ask them how they would actually respond.


Personally, I find that this "reverse psychology" doesn't work for me. In my opinion and in my own situation, I find that it would give a confusing message to my child. It may give the underlying message that the parent will forget and give the child something he/she is allergic to. Children need to feel safe with their parents and know that their parents will take care of them and be responsible for them. It's one thing for others to offer them foods they are allergic to, but it's another to give the perception that the parent would actually offer that food. Of course, children need to learn to be responsible for their allergies but when they are young, I think they need a balance of knowing that the parents are looking out for them and their own awareness and responsibility about their allergies.

I also think it's not a very good idea to focus on how yummy or delicious peanut butter is when we both know he can never eat it. I prefer the approach of positive reinforcement and using real life and hypothetical examples to teach (examples of food being offered outside the home and by others). That's the approach I have always used and I am pleased to see how responsible and allergy aware my son has turned out to be. I'm not criticizing other approaches... just sharing the ones that worked for me and expressing an opinion.

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16-year-old son: peanuts, nuts, raw egg whites, asthmatic
Self: allergic rhinitis, fragrance/chemical sensitivities, oral allergy syndrome


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PostPosted: Thu Apr 27, 2006 7:24 am 
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Joined: Tue Mar 22, 2005 11:17 pm
Posts: 6491
Location: Ottawa
Sometimes when we are playing in the bath and our daughter is 'making me something to eat' we'll pretend that I'm allergic to something and we act different senarios. Sometimes she gets very insistant that I try the food (she really is a bit of a tease). I look at her and tell her that's mean and if she doesn't stop I'm getting my mommy.
I find that in this way I can give her the phrases to use and she gets to act out the senarios she's most concerned with.

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Daughter: asthma, allergies to egg, milk, peanuts, tree nuts, most legumes (not soy) & penicillin. Developing hayfever type allergies.
Husband: no allergies
Me: allergies to some tree that flowers in May
Cat: allergic to beef, pork and lamb


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PostPosted: Thu Apr 27, 2006 3:27 pm 
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Joined: Mon Mar 20, 2006 3:03 pm
Posts: 105
Location: Coquitlam
Hi storm,

I can see what you are saying but I am a very sarcastic person and my kids know how to read me.

I'm not saying this is for everyone but for our family it works. My parents, my mother-in-law including sisters and brother in-laws English is a second language so I want my sons to know that even though someone loves them very much and would not want to do any harm they can make mistakes and ultimately the responsibility falls onto their shoulders.

When my oldest son was 3 my dad took him to costco to do some shopping and there was a demo lady handing out chocolates My dad not thinking took one and handed it to my son. My son just looked at him and said "No thank you It might have nuts." My dad still mentions it to this day how Bad he felt and how proud of my son he was for handling it so well.

My 4 yr old on several occasions as were walking out the door will say "Oh Mom we forgot my epi-pen" I will show him that it is in my purse and you can see the relief on his face. This way we are both thinking and in case one of us forgets the other remembers.
I don't like the idea of them always relying on me to do the thinking, preparation etc. even though they are 4 and 7. I know that they know how to take care of themselves.

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Sil


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PostPosted: Fri Apr 28, 2006 9:23 am 
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Joined: Tue Nov 29, 2005 4:04 pm
Posts: 2044
Location: Gatineau, Quebec
I like your approach, Sil. I have found recently that it's always ME being the one to remind my oldest to put on his E-Belt before school. Even my husband (who is really vigilant normally) has gotten lax about it. It's started to stress me out.

I will have to think of some way to ease me out of the role of "the one who always remembers" and make it more his responsibility. It's hard, though, because obviously I don't want the consequence of him not remembering to put it on is him not having it at school all day. (If he was forgetting something else, the consequence could just be not having it all day, but that doesn't work for the EpiPen!)

Any ideas?

K.

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Karen, proud Mom of
- DS1 (12 yrs): allergic to cashews, pistachios, Brazil nuts, potatoes, some legumes, some fish, pumpkin seeds; OAS
- DS2 (1o yrs): ana. to dairy, eggs, peanuts; asthma


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PostPosted: Sat Apr 29, 2006 2:16 am 
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Joined: Mon Mar 20, 2006 3:03 pm
Posts: 105
Location: Coquitlam
Hi Karen,

I am at an advantage because the school is a block and a half away from our home.
My three children walk together and pick up a friend along the way. I have purchased walkie talkies so that we can communicate. I can stay home while my smaller one sleeps in (We know most of the neighbours) If I notice that the older one has not put on his epi-pen I let him walk up the drive way then ask him if he has his epi-pen so that it is a inconvenience to him to have to walk back to get it. (It's amazing how quickly they learn when it is at their inconvenience)

When I have given him permission to go play at a neighbours and he has not grabbed his epi-pen I will give him a penalty till he remembers what he's forgetting (he's a hockey player so he prefers this language) Again they learn very quickly when it disrupts their play.


*I edited the blue section.

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Sil


Last edited by Sil on Sat Apr 29, 2006 11:11 am, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Sat Apr 29, 2006 10:22 am 
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Joined: Mon Apr 11, 2005 9:38 pm
Posts: 933
Location: Oakville, Ontario
We've tried several methods of ensuring we ALWAYS remember to take the Epipen, and that I haven't accidentally left it in my purse only to head out the door with it. Over the last few months we've found the best method for our family is to hang the Epipen backpack right on the doorknob handle. We have not forgotten it, and I have not accidentally left the house with the Epipens in my purse. Because the small backpack ONLY contains our son's meds and some wipes, the Epipens are always whereever our son is. So far, so good. We always have an extra Epipen at home, but the last thing we see as we head out the door is the Epipen backpack.

_________________
15 yr old daughter: no health issues
12 yr old son: allergic to peanuts, tree nuts, eggs, fish, sesame, sunflower, mustard, poppy seeds, peas, carrots, some fruits, instructed to avoid all other legumes (except soy & green beans), pollen, cats, horses


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PostPosted: Mon May 15, 2006 2:23 pm 
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Joined: Mon Mar 20, 2006 3:03 pm
Posts: 105
Location: Coquitlam
My Kids do Understand!!

Wow, I am so proud of my son's!!

My Mother's day gift from my older son was great.

On Thursday he brought home my gift from school and hid it in his room.
On Sunday morning he brought it to me. It had all the normal stuff like a card with a poem and some art work.

I then reached into the bag of goodies and pulled out a flower in a ziploc bag made with a peak freans cookie on a skewer with some green spearmint leaves. Both my sons at the same time said "It may contain nuts" I just looked at them and said "How do you know?" The little one said he told me referring to my older one. So I turned to the older one and said "How do you know?" He said he asked his teacher and she got the package and read it to him. He then wen't on to say that he would not touch the cookie so his teacher put the cookie on the stick and in the ziploc bag for him. He then came home and told the younger one that his gift may contain nuts and not to touch it.

I told both of them That I was extremely proud of them for being so responsible.
I think that it is wonderful for a 7 yr old to question an authority figure and stand up to what he knows is the right thing to do.

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Sil


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PostPosted: Mon May 15, 2006 5:07 pm 
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Joined: Sun Mar 05, 2006 1:05 pm
Posts: 528
Location: Burlington, Ontario
Sil,

What a nice story!

Your Mother's Day gift was so much more than that cookie flower. It was also the knowledge that they do get it and how well your son coped with the situation! :idea:


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PostPosted: Mon May 15, 2006 10:23 pm 
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Joined: Tue Nov 29, 2005 4:04 pm
Posts: 2044
Location: Gatineau, Quebec
That is an awesome story, Sil. I can see why you are so proud of your boys. :)

We have our two EBelts on hooks that we attached to the chest of drawers in the front hall. They are hard to miss and at the kids' eye level, but still Max "forgets".

I have decided to make a checklist for him in the morning. That way, instead of saying "teeth, shoes, hat, EBelt, etc." I just have to say "checklist!" I'll let you know how that works out...

Once my guys are both at the same school I think life will be easier. I like the walkie-talkies idea!

K.

_________________
Karen, proud Mom of
- DS1 (12 yrs): allergic to cashews, pistachios, Brazil nuts, potatoes, some legumes, some fish, pumpkin seeds; OAS
- DS2 (1o yrs): ana. to dairy, eggs, peanuts; asthma


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PostPosted: Tue Jun 25, 2013 2:28 pm 
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Joined: Tue Mar 22, 2005 11:17 pm
Posts: 6491
Location: Ottawa
How do you teach and measure the understanding of allergies when dealling with small children?

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Daughter: asthma, allergies to egg, milk, peanuts, tree nuts, most legumes (not soy) & penicillin. Developing hayfever type allergies.
Husband: no allergies
Me: allergies to some tree that flowers in May
Cat: allergic to beef, pork and lamb


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