Being a Food Allergy Parent is hard. There is no doubt what-so-ever about that. Between putting a lot more work into “simple” meal planning to worrying whether our kids will be safe in the company of others, we lead higher stress lives than many (but certainly not all!) of our counterparts in the parenting world.
But I’m not the sort to constantly dwell on anxiety–especially since I have a clear window into how much things have improved. There wasn’t as much awareness or as many resources when I was diagnosed in the eighties, and I can only imagine that it must have been even harder for the earlier pioneers in earlier decades. So today, for Thankful Thursday, I’ve compiled a list of ways in which my life as a Food Allergy Mom is better/easier than my mom’s was. I hope that reading through it can make you feel thankful too!
#1 Food allergy action plans
My mom considered it a victory to get my EpiPen (singular, by the way) into the school nurse’s office. She has repeatedly voiced doubts over whether anyone there would’ve known when and how to use it, but at least it was on the premises. Nowadays, it’s SO much nicer to have an easy-to-read-and-understand, not to mention standard, form for doctors to fill out and schools to follow. It’s easy enough to use that we can give one to grandparents or friends’ parents too, and also to keep on hand for ourselves.
#2 School training
These days, any teacher “authorized” to administer Epinephrine has to go through a training course, usually with a registered nurse or other school medical consultant. And the even better news is, a lot of schools train ALL of their full time staff in this administration–and those that don’t train everyone usually have a minimum trained-staff-to-student ratio that they must meet. So there are a ton of people in schools now who have at least been trained on when and how to use Epinephrine, and can be called on in an emergency. I don’t think any of the school staff got that kind of training when I was a kid.
#3 504 plans
These days, children with food allergies are legally protected and schools accepting federal funding are required to grant them equal access to education. A 504 plan is a legally-binding document that outlines precautions and accommodations, written and agreed upon in a joint effort between parent and school, often with the help of other parties as well. I don’t know exactly when this legal accommodation appeared, but my quick Googling implied that it may have been as recent as 2008–the year my older son was born. Not all food-allergic students carry 504 plans, and there isn’t agreement on whether or not all of them should, but it’s great to know that your child is within their rights to have one if you want or if you feel the need to force school compliance.
#4 Food allergen labeling laws
Check out the rest of the ways that life is easier now and have more to be thankful for, here!