When Did Food Allergies Become a Disability?

I just finished reading this article on Capenews.net about a school that banned all nut products. The school has already taken precautions of ‘nut free classrooms and lunch tables.’ I am curious to know what parents think about this?

The ban was very controversial in the article. One parent believed that she was speaking for the majority by asking why her child couldn’t bring a peanut butter sandwich to school. Others also agreed that it gives a false sense of security, because ensuring that it is nut free is impossible. I agree with this. I think it certainly does give people a false sense of security. No where will you find a 100 percent guarantee that a place is allergen free. I think it takes away the responsibility from the child, and helps them to believe that in life they will always be in environments where no allergens exist.

Since I have always been the minority, having allergies since I was a baby and not knowing anyone else with them, I was never raised in an environment with this false sense of security. If my children some day have allergies, I will also want to raise them in an environment where there is no false sense of security, and where they must learn to take responsibility. It is truly up to the parents to empower their children to learn how to take responsibility for themselves. If parents do that, then no matter where their child is, they will be safer knowing how to keep themselves safe, and by knowing what they need to do. Whereas if children are raised thinking they are always safe when they are not, and are not shown how to take care of themselves, then how will they be able to go out in the world one day on their own? Parents can not always be by their child’s side every step of the way. They also need to learn to let go.

Educating people about allergies is important, and taking precautions is certainly significant. I think which precautions are taken is what is most important. Education is really the key to helping your child. It is the way to empower them!

One of the woman that was quoted in the article also commented how that woman didn’t understand. The woman in the article commented back saying, “I learned so much about these disabled kids and the lives they have to live. But I am just a normal person with normal kids, so it took a little bit of time.” I have to admit I was extremely offended by this woman. Normal? Am I not ‘normal’ because I have allergies? These kids are ‘disabled?’ It doesn’t sound like she has learned much since! She is someone who truly needs to be educated about allergies!

When I read this article, I was truly startled by the word ‘disability.’ I don’t feel like I have a disability. Sure, I have something that I have had to learn to cope with, but never once have I felt like I am disabled in some way. I feel very lucky for what I can eat and do. I would never say that I have a disability though! I just don’t think that is the right word, because I can still do everything I want to do for the most part. I don’t feel any inhibition to do anything. I travel, I live in other countries, I work, I live a ‘normal’ life. Yes, I can’t eat anything I see, but I don’t feel disabled by that. Certainly I feel disappointed sometimes, but not disabled, because I know how to take care of myself and I was given the tools that empowered me to believe that I can do what I want to do, allergies or not!

One Comment

  1. I can totally understand how the word “disability” would stun you, but honestly I kind of feel that it fits. The goal is for disabled children to learn to cope with their disabilities such that they are always there but should not hinder them from thriving and living a full life – much like coping with food allergies. Think about children with Dislexia. They do learn to read and function despite the disability. In fact, I taught a student who is blind, and he was incredibly adventurous and high functioning. He navigated the school building on his own, learned in a mainstream honors classroom, and had been both rock climbing and sky diving. His parents, like yours, had empowered him instead of disempowering him. In some ways, disabilities can actually be less of a daily hinderance than food allergies. It’s how you cope (and you’re doing a great job!).

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