When Food Allergies Make Your Child Feel Like an Outcast at School

by Leila on June 12, 2012

Sometimes, no matter what you do for your child with life threatening food allergies, there will be mistakes at School.

Thankfully, nothing physically happened to put her in danger but it was going that direction. This was an emotional attack and broke my daughter’s fragile heart and put me in a lose lose situation.

I totally get that unless you live the life of a person with severe food allergies you don’t get how dangerous it can be physically or emotionally.

I try to advocate, educate, tell funny stories and make it all as positive as possible. Everything is in place at school with her IEP and 504 Plan that gives her legal protection. I keep open communication with the faculty and teachers.

For the most part I am really friendly, laid back and positive about everything. Follow the guidelines and nothing goes wrong and I don’t have to get all crazy.

Though, sometimes things slip through the cracks. Sometimes we have to deal with parents who push their own agendas or teachers not reading the freaking manual.

I personally can’t stand end of year parties and holiday times because it is a source of stress and frustration no matter what alternatives are provided. There is a reason many schools BAN classroom parties. Not just because of the food allergy issue but because it takes away from valuable classroom time and lots of parents don’t want other parents sending their children on a sugar high.

Even if I didn’t have the perspective that I have I wouldn’t want my kid having cupcakes, pizza, candy or junk food all the time. We don’t do that at home for health reasons so why should it be a constant staple at school?

Anyway, a pizza party was decided for my daughter’s classroom. My daughter is contact sensitive to milk. This fact sucks and has been a challenge to control. If she ingests milk or has too much exposure she can go suffer anaphylactic shock which can kill her. This fact, obviously, sucks even more. I thought everything was clear about pizza and ice cream being around her. I thought it was understood what was in her health plan. I can easily provide alternatives and we can do other foods or popsicles. But, no. It was decided and announced that pizza was it.

If you don’t have experience with health plans and IEPs then this may seem confusing. Basically, if a child has any special needs then accommodations need to be legally met so that child can be in a safe learning environment and not fall victim to discrimination.

Everything about this party legally went against what is laid out to prevent her from physical and emotional harm. Still, it was pushed forward. By the time it was told to the parents it was a little too late… the kids knew and were looking forward to it. This worried my daughter because the last thing she wants is for all the kids to be mad at her because of her health conditions. It was a lose lose situation and I watched her cry herself to sleep more than once because of something that could have been prevented.

I just didn’t get why we were dealing with this when we had no issues this year and everything laid out was so simple. Why choose the main food that can put her in harms way?

It started turning into a battle. Some asshair parents started gossiping which got back to my daughter. People can be so selfish, though, they think we are the selfish one.

Yes, blame the child who can’t help the cards she was dealt with. It was suggested I just kept her home. Really? We have dealt with so much negativity and people even wishing harm on her.

You start to reach the boiling point where you think you can’t win and hope in people not being asshairs is lost.

It is pizza. PIZZA! All the kids ultimately care about is they get to party. I wanted peace. I wanted my daughter to finish the school year in a positive note since we have had to face the fact she will be homeschooling soon.

The alternative? Our wonderful Principal, who really understands my daughter’s health issues because of personal connections with it, wanted to just make her happy. We were all worried about pulling the party at this point and kids being upset with her. There was also concern that catty parents would turn it into something bigger… because some people have nothing better to do. We didn’t want her missing school or being put in danger.

The alternative?

My daughter is having a special day with the Principal. They have games, popsicles, allergy friendly cookies, bubbles and all sorts of things planned. She is throwing my daughter a party with the office staff and making her feel special. This is insane to me because everyone is so busy with end of year craziness. The principal insisted that my daughter was more important in these moments and everything else can wait.

We weren’t sure how awesome this would be to a fourth grader but my daughter was elated going to school with her party supplies. She was so happy to be greeted by everyone in the office who were showing genuine excitement to have their own lunch party with her.

When my daughter hugged me goodbye she told me thank you for always helping her find a way. That moments like those make her feel like the luckiest girl to have a Mommy like me and to have days and events where she can feel special and forget about the things that make her different. We try to make the most of each day, no matter what.

I walked away with happy tears and can take comfort in the fact that we are ending this year on a good note.

Though, I do kind of feel bad for the Thor hammer like emails I had to send out advocating for her. However, time and time again I realize that we do have to live, laugh and ninja kick those obstacles and find those happy solutions.

And no one is going to take away my daughter’s choice or right to be safe.

About Leila DontSpeakWhinese

Leila, aka The Ninja, is the advocate for all things not whining. Parenting is fun when everyone stops b*tching! She is the Mom of a big blended family of five awesome kids. They ninja kick through life together. Oh and she is a total jackass.