Let Me be the First to Apologize

In honor of Food Allergy Awareness Week, I present this guest post by Trent Goldhammer.

ham sandwich

Oh, man, your school banned nuts?  For the love of all things holy what were they thinking?  Don’t they know that your kid is picky and that peanut butter is the one thing that he’ll eat three times a day?  Do they want him to starve?  Maybe you should start a change.org petition to reinstate nuts?  Seriously, screw those allergy kids.  Their parents should homeschool or something.

Except…  I’m one of those dads with the wimpy allergic kid who asked the school to ban nuts in the first place, so, sorry about that.  Sorry that packing a ham sandwich is not an acceptable substitution to a peanut butter sandwich.  Sorry that your kid’s granola bar got confiscated because you didn’t read the label.  Sorry that the Nutella you packed (for dipping carrots!) was returned with a stern note from the teacher informing you– for the first time ever– that it’s made out of nuts.  How were you supposed to know that?  You thought it was made out of chocolate, sugar, and magic.

I can totally relate to that inconvenience, if you’re up for me sharing a story with you:  at one point in time my kid was so allergic to the air outside that breathing it caused her to have to go on antibiotics and steroids four times in one year.  Just from breathing.  Air.  So we packed up and left our home, our jobs, and our families and moved to a city where childcare and housing are 100% more and salaries are 50% less so that we could live somewhere that breathing the air didn’t cause a raging infection in her body.

What I’m trying to say is that I hear you, friend.  It sucks that your kid has to wait till 3pm to eat peanut butter so that my kid doesn’t die at school.  Your struggle is real and I want to validate that for you.  Nobody puts peanuts in a corner.

Peanut butter is your kid’s only source of protein, right?  I get that, and here’s why:  I had to EpiPen my kid 4 times in the last year to save her life and the ER bills alone are over ten grand.  Oh wait, that’s not a very good example to relate to the strife you must be feeling over the nut ban.  Let me try again:  I live every single day of my life on edge, expecting the phone to ring, thinking I’m going to hear the school principal tell me that my little girl is in an ambulance on the way to a hospital.  Does that at all touch on what you’re feeling over your kid’s school lunch?

Why don’t I keep my kid at home so that I can be in total control of her environment, you wonder?  Because the law in the United States entitles all children, yes, even the disabled ones, to a public education, that’s why. I pay property taxes just like you do.  There isn’t a disability in America that’s as socially acceptable to hate as the kid with food allergies, is there?

Do you know what the law does not entitle?  It doesn’t entitle parents to send their kids to a school free of children with disabilities and it doesn’t entitle your kid to a peanut butter sandwich.

Sorry to be the bearer of all kinds of bad news today but hopefully you’re going to weather this storm, find some big kid underwear to put on, and pack a ham-freaking-sammich without crying about it from now on.

Good talk.  Thanks for listening.

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43 thoughts on “Let Me be the First to Apologize

  1. Why would you want to send your child to a public school, when the very existence of them in the form at present by design has lead to greater and greater disease in our children as our understanding of practical reality grows more limited everyday. Instead of blame and spite towards what is your problem ONLY, why not investigate and bring forth what is a solution? Perhaps the complaining state of mind is the cause of the outcome? In all, we become the measure of our understanding, which no other can be the responsibility for, as you determine what you are the measure of within.

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    1. You clearly have no idea how incredibly isolating it is to have food allergies and sensitivities. I’m not even deathly allergic to the foods I’m sensitive to. I just have ulcerative colitis and it makes socializing exhausting and often impossible. Also, homeschooling is not always easy or even practical. We’ve tried it for the last few years and we’re having to give in and send our kids to public school next year because we can’t provide for our family adequately and homeschool. Not being able to bring peanut butter to school is an inconvenience, but having to live at all in society and steer clear of it is overwhelming and extremely difficult. Even if they homeschooled, their kid is going to want and emotionally need to be able to interact with other kids. It’s actually easier to send them to public school and have peanut butter banned there then it is to tediously inform, educate and hope that all the other homeschool families will comply and respect your family’s need to stay away from it. Public education isn’t exactly the ideal arena to demand freedom since it is totally not geared towards that.

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  2. I have a hard time with this….and I guess its because I do not have a child with a severe allergy like this. First, I believe the law does entitled children to PB&J’s. I do not believe the government has the authority to restrict parents from sending anything peanut to school for their children to eat. If peanuts are restricted, what about dairy, wheat, eggs? Where do you draw the line? Second, what about personal responsibility? I understand young, young children may not understand personal responsibility, but after one or two allergic reactions, which unfortunately can result in death, one would think a 6/7/8 year old would understand they cant eat that PB&J. And parents of these children should continue to educate them on foods that contain nuts. Why is it MY responsibility to know YOUR child is allergic to nuts and not send a PB&J to school thus absolving you and your child of the responsibility to avoid nuts? Lastly, Longhorns/Five Guys…..should they be required to stop serving peanuts? I love their food, if I have a nut allergy, I should still be able to go without having to worry about the nuts! Right? Wrong!

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    1. Its bigger than that. So a child who eats a peanut butter sandwich then forgets to wash his/her hands and touches allergic child. Or wipes their hands on a pencil and shares it with allergic child. Or passes allergic child his/her water, or helps put on their coat. Its so much more then educating the allergic child and the result can be death. Still think its worth sending?

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      1. That couls all happen after the one child has his pb&j for breakfast. I think a little less sarcasm and a little more pleading would have served this father better.

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    2. Did you read this? Because I did, and it certainly didn’t leave me thinking this parent and child want to shuck responsibility and make others be careful for them. It’s about EVERYONE being careful. Unfortunately, peanut and tree nut allergies are among the most severe–I know so many people with food restrictions and allergies, and have yet to encounter one that will die within minutes if exposed to milk. Peanut restrictions suck. I wish this whole allergy epidemic wasn’t happening. But when I was strapped into an ambulance with a toddler in my lap who had TOUCHED (not eaten, touched) another child’s PB&J (made possible by a parent and a teacher who thought the new peanut restrictions were ridiculous) and was rapidly swelling to resemble a Macy’s Thanksgiving parade balloon, I assure you I was not all that concerned about the other family’s toes being stepped on. Granted, this was a very small child who could not possibly be expected to understand that the other kid’s sandwich might kill him–but that kid’s parents did. And they DIDN’T CARE. Sure an 8 yr old knows to stay away from peanuts, but is that 8 yr old to assume that every dish, every utensil, every surface might have had a peanut butter cookie on it and not been washed thoroughly? Do you understand that tiny amounts of residue from a granola bar on a child’s hand is enough to send some kids into anaphylactic shock? Do you know what it feels like to be unable to breath? My kids can’t eat gluten. They are super educated, super careful, and it still gets into them from time to time, usually by way of a parent telling them, “this is ok, there’s no wheat in it” or “it isn’t bread so it’s fine.” A common misconception, that gluten is only found in bread products. Sometimes it’s an honest mistake–but sometimes that adult just doesn’t want to bother providing a safe alternative. Because it’s inconvenient. People are reporting families to CPS for letting their kids walk alone in their own neighborhoods, presumably out of concern for the safety of those children–but we can’t be bothered helping them not die from food allergies? I mean seriously. This isn’t about shifting responsibility onto others–it’s about SHARING it. Helping each other. Understanding that at some point, your needs will inconvenience someone else and things will balance out. It’s about being compassionate, and understanding, and human–sometimes it sucks. Kids not being cared for by their village sucks more.

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    3. I asked the “how far will it go?” question once. Because yes, the struggle to get kids, some with their own dietary restrictions, to eat is real. But the bottom line is, what would you want done if it were your own child? Is it really that hard not to pack nuts when you know there are kids who could die from even the smallest exposure? Or can you make a small sacrifice on behalf of someone else’s well-being?

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    4. The reason I believe it is okay to ban peanuts at a school but not at say, Five Guys, is because a person allergic to peanuts can easily avoid Five Guys. They don’t need to go to Five Guys for an education. Also, Five Guys doesn’t require people that go there to be vaccinated. The schools often do. Vaccines are heavily linked to allergies, so because they require vaccines to attend school they must accommodate the disabilities they helped create. But, even if vaccines didn’t cause the allergy, why should a child or family be excluded from public school because of this disability? How is that fair? It isn’t like they chose this. That’s just my opinion. And I’m very pro-liberty. It isn’t like every other kid isn’t allowed to eat peanuts, its just that they aren’t allowed at school.

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    5. ‘Personal responsibility’ is all well and good but it can’t save everyone. I have a Type 1 Latex Allergy, and I know all too many people think that ‘latex allergy’ just means ‘contact dermatitis’. Oh no, no it doesn’t. Latex Allergy for me means hives all over my body, means my hands swelling so badly that my fingertips go blue, means asthma attack, means my feet being agonisingly painful and impossible to walk on because they swelled up last night. Latex Allergy for me means I can’t be in a room with balloons, means I can’t be in a room where latex gloves were used, means I get hives on my arms from resting them on a table at Little Chef where they used latex gloves whilst they were cleaning, means not being able to wear the brand-new pair of Adidas x Pharrell Williams trainers in bright red that my parents bought me because they give me hives on my feet. Latex Allergy for me a few days ago meant calling the ambulance because my throat was swelling up, just because I had knelt (with full-length jeans on) on the rubber flooring at the ice rink for 10 seconds to take a photo.

      I might seem neurotic when I go to a friend’s party, only to gasp and say “I’m sorry, I can’t stay here” because I told them a hundred times not to use balloons other than Mylar or foil balloons, but they used them anyway and I can’t risk dying.

      I can’t see the latex particles in the air any more than a peanut-allergic child can see peanut dust in the air. Peanuts don’t just come in the obvious form of PB&J sandwiches, in the same way that I’m not just going to have a reaction to latex if I pop on some latex gloves. In other words, I AM NOT THAT STUPID and nor are most people with severe, LIFE-THREATENING allergies.

      Put it this way; if you saw a child about to stand on a land mine, you wouldn’t just go “oh damn they’re going to die oh well they haven’t seen it but I guess it’s personal responsibility not to die oh well poor kid, I’ll just let them blow themselves up,” would you? No. Didn’t think so.

      To be honest, I don’t know where I’m going with this. I just wanted to make sure that you realise that there is only so much an individual can do to protect his/herself.

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    6. I have a severe peanut allergy and I don’t go to those restaurants and many others that use peanut oil and such. However I also can go into a severe life threatening reaction by smelling peanuts and or peanut butter or by touching something that someone else has touched after eating peanut butter. I appreciate the concern of orher in certain situations. I certainly understand how people who do not deal with this can be frustrated but to go without a certain sandwich to save a life of a child seems like a pretty small sacrifice to me.

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    7. Let me say somthing to you, how would you feel if the thing that could kill you was right next to you at the lunch table, deathly afraid that some of that would go into your food right? Well just think about that the next time you deside to comment on somthing that you have no clue about. Also btw the law does not entitle a child to a Peanut butter and jelly sandwich, you are making yourself sound like a idiot. Thank you.

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  3. A-freaking-MEN!!! My son is allergic to peanuts, ALL dairy(yes people butter and yougurt and cheese is dairy), AND eggs. To some that means, “oh so he’s gluten free?…uh…no!” He can eat gluten all day! Dairy, eggs and peanuts he can’t have… No it’s not a phase or a diet choice – he could die!
    He is so allergic to WHEY(the protein found in cows milk) that if it gets on his skin he will go into anaphylaxis.
    This post is exactly how I feel every morning I drop off my son at school. It is nothing personal people! He doesn’t have allergies just to inconvenience you!

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    1. Gosh, I didn’t realise you could be allergic to whey protein. I was at the rink not so long ago and I mixed up a whey protein shake thing and got a bit of the powder on the floor but didn’t think anything of it. I’ll be much more careful next time, you never know who could come into contact with something which could kill them.

      BTW side note to everyone else: this is how it should be. People have a duty to others around them. Sure, if you don’t realise it, then you aren’t to know but when it’s something so obvious as peanut allergies, people should know. Everyone needs to do their bit.

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  4. I’m continuously shocked at how indifferent other parents are toward those kids with life threatening allergies like peanuts…and we live on peanut butter in our house. But, there have been years when one of my kids was in class with someone with a peanut allergy. So, there were no peanut butter sandwiches that year. That’s fine, no big deal. I know that child with the allergy has to go to school. I know he/she can’t help it. I know they, especially, probably wish they didn’t have a life-threatening food allergy. I know my child can simply have something else for lunch. I can’t imagine putting another child’s life at risk for my child’s food preference.

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  5. RM: No, there is no legally protected right for a kid to bring PB&J to school — or any particular food for that matter. Why do people think this? Do they think there some special “peanut butter clause” in the Constitution? The law DOES protect kids with life threatening food allergies/anaphylaxis because it falls within the definition of “disability” and kids with disabilities are protected by law.

    Schools can and do prohibit kids from bringing in all kinds of things that might harm another student — like guns or other weapons. Heck, they even prohibit kids from wearing Tshirts that have violent or druggie messages on them. So yeah, they can keep out peanut butter sandwiches if they deem it necessary to protect other students.

    For many kids with food allergies “just don’t eat it” is not a winning strategy. I’m sure you don’t understand this because you don’t have a kid with life threatening food allergies. Peanut butter residue can stay on surfaces for pretty much forever. So a child with a severe peanut allergy can touch a surface that has peanut oil residue on it, rub his eye or wiggle his loose tooth and go into anaphylaxis.

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    1. Exactly! As a teen with a Type 1 (severe) Latex Allergy I get it slightly different, with people assuming that so long as I’m not actually wearing latex gloves, I’ll be fine. Er, no, people!

      Nah, I don’t need to add anything; you put it so well. I just wanted to throw in the non-food version 😛

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  6. Anyone wonder where peanut allergies came from? They were none around in my schools when I grew up. Thanks to vaccine manufacturers adding peanut oil to the toxic soup in order to create an immune response. I remember hearing a few years back a teen with a peanut allergy died after a kiss. This isn’t a rash people, it’s deadly.

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    1. A M E N!!!! When are we going to start demanding the vaccine mgf’s be held responsible for all the flipping damage they have done…I got it never. But you nailed it.

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      1. We’re not allowed to hold them responsible. It’s the law. In the 80’s they made a law that says vaccine manufacturer’s cannot be sued or held liable. It was strengthen not too long ago. This law adds an extra fee onto each vaccine sold that is set aside for the federal governments “Vaccine Court” to dole out when it can’t avoid the evidence of vaccine injury. Then the victims and their families are gagged so they can’t sound the alarm.

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  7. I don’t think your article will get people to side with you, only make parents of kids with nut allergies out to look like rude assholes who don’t care about anyone else’s kid. My neighbor’s kid is low-functioning autistic. The school banned nuts and the only thing he wants for lunch is a peanut butter/jelly sandwich. His parents and teachers tried everything, the kid started to misbehave in school because he was hungry. They thought he’d eventually come around, 6 months into it, he didn’t. What about kids with that disability? Or do you not care? His parents ended up taking him out of school for lunch period, he eats in the parking lot. That’s not fair to him. Maybe the kids with nut allergies should have a designated nut-free room so everyone’s happy. There’s always a compromise.

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    1. Unless they all stay in only that room every day, that isn’t a compromise. For some of these kids, just inhaling particles from someone else’s peanut butter can be deadly. And if you can smell it, you’re inhaling particles. Touching a surface that has had peanut butter on it can be deadly, too.

      And there seem to be a lot more kids with peanut allergies in the US than kids who will only eat peanut butter. Maybe they could designate one room for those kids and have a teacher make sure the students wash very thoroughly after.

      It sounds like your neighbour’s have come up with a good idea, too. I’m not sure how it’s not fair to him, I’m sure he’s happy to eat lunch with a parent. Lots of kids here go home for lunch.

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      1. It’s inconvenient to the parents who both work, it’s definitely not a win-win. If just breathing air can be dangerous to some of these kids, then it’s up to the parents to keep them safe. Banning peanuts in schools is giving them a false sense of security, their kids will never be safe anywhere. A kid might have peanuts for breakfast and come to school, they exhale next to a classmate who’s allergic and the kid goes into shock. The school can’t control that. If I had a kid with a serious peanut allergy, I wouldn’t even think twice about homeschooling.

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  8. The only problem with this is the suggestion for a ham sandwich. No one should be sending meat products to school. 2-3 hours with no refrigeration = greatly increased risk for food poisoning.

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  9. How do allergy parents feel about blanket bans in the absence of nut allergies? I’m happy to go above and beyond to protect an actual child with a life-threatening allergy. I would love it if there were something I could ban to protect my asthma kid! (I can’t–his asthma attacks are triggered by cold or strong emotion, and try writing an IEP for that). So I don’t mind reasonable restrictions in the presence of an actual allergy.

    But, as a single mom with a limited income, it is actually a burden finding alternatives to peanut butter. It really is. Peanut butter is as ubiquitous as it is not just because George Washington Carver was a heck of a salesman, but because it is head and shoulders more affordable than any comparable protein source. That economic and logistical problem is inconsequential in the face of preserving an actual life–but the first year I sent my son to his nut-free school, there weren’t actually any nut-allergic kids in the primary division. None! My struggle to find the right lunch foods to help him focus and stay alert was, effectively, pointless.

    My concern is that nut-free policies in the absence of any actual at-risk individuals promote laxity–in parents and teachers–just as any immediately senseless regulation promotes laxity, which might then become problematic when a nut-allergic kid does join the school community.

    At least our school still allows bake sales and home made treats, and trusts non-allergy parents to be smart enough to know what “no nuts” means and allergy parents to make their own decision about providing alternative snacks. I have heard of schools that ban all but packaged, processed goodies from a proscribed list, which sounds…well, depersonalized and somewhat cold and artificial, honestly. And infantilizing to the school community as a while in the underlying assumption that any evidence of difference or individual restriction must be alienating and damaging instead of being evidence of diversity and an opportunity to learn tolerance and understanding.

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    1. Yes, indeed. From a different point, many people who wear latex gloves get a bit of an eczema-type rash and then proceed to tell people they are ‘allergic’ to latex. So when someone like myself tells people quite seriously that I have a Latex Allergy, they assume I mean a bit of a rash on my fingers from direct, prolonged contact with latex gloves. No, what I actually mean is that I have a life-threatening, Type 1, throat-closing, all-over-hives, severe-swelling, fingers-turning-blue allergy to latex, and latex particles in the air from balloons and prior glove use. But because so many people profess to have a latex ‘allergy’ when they really just have mild contact dermatitis, the true severity of the type of true Latex Allergy (which is identical in physiology to the kinds of peanut reactions which kill people) has been diminished.

      Same goes for asthma. Sure, most people have the kind of mild intermittent asthma which actually just means a couple of puffs on the blue one will sort it all. Many people need a low-dose preventer, like Clenil, and although they shouldn’t, they could get away with not using it for a bit without it being serious. But then you have people like me, who need high-dose inhaled steroids+long-acting relievers (Seretide 125/25, 2 puffs twice a day), Montelukast daily, PEFR readings twice a day, Pred and antibiotics every time a chest infection chips its dirty little hands in, and who CANNOT go even half a day without their preventer medications. But because so many people just think that asthma is a puff-or-two-on-the-blue-and-that’s-sorted-you job, they think I’m overreacting when I forget to fill my prescription and am frantically ringing the GP surgery requesting an urgent prescription, or think I’m trying to be a ‘special snowflake’ with all the meds, or think that I should just buck up and come into school when I have a cold because “everyone has had that and they have been fine”, so the true severity of asthma in general, but especially for people with less ‘easy’ asthma, has been diminished.

      It sucks for anyone to have contact dermatitis, or any kind of asthma, I’m not saying it doesn’t. I’m just saying people have to be careful how they present themselves. An article I read on a health blogging website not so long ago suggested not-very-subtly that people who want to avoid GMOs when they are eating out should just say they are allergic to something so they don’t have to eat it. So the chefs go to all those lengths to ensure no cross-contamination occurs etc., only to see someone later on eating a product which contains the thing they said they were allergic to. This could make some people think that ‘food allergies can’t be that serious’, and not take those extremely necessary precautions in the future for someone with a true anaphylactic allergy to something and hey presto, someone dies because someone else acted selfishly.

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  10. Fair waring….My son broke out in that all too familiar peanut rash and we had no clue where he got it. Reading and hunting we discovered in our yard and all over out town was a rose bush genetically altered, peanut plant had been used as part of the process…so it’s not always something you can see or control. Cut some slack to those out there trying to control a little of what we can and know could kill our children.

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  11. It’s pretty clear we have a societal problem on our hands. If your child does not have life-threatening food allergies, yet, perhaps your grandchildren will. Maybe you will suddenly develop them, as is a common occurrence. The current stat is 1 in 13 children are impacted; some advocates/researchers are forecasting the rate to go us as high as 1 in 2. Food allergy can also happen at any point in life–after interviewing hundreds and hundreds of people impacted, I have heard all types of stories. There is the “nuts” and bolts issue of what is appropriate to bring to school–but the bigger question is this: if food allergy bugs you, what are you doing to help fight for prevention? Are you phoning your elected official to complain about the billions of dollars these kids represent to big business? Are you outraged that a lot of food allergy research is funded by those with vested interest in profiting from it? Do you feel food is a universal human right? Would you like common, everyday foods turned into a mortal enemy? Because it’s coming, maybe not for you or your child today, but perhaps tomorrow. Epigenetics (changing our gene expression through environmental toxins) is rapidly changing us. So, while we’re busy fighting over peanuts, big business is laughing. So, let’s keep on with the food fights but direct our anger in the appropriate directions–and away from innocent children who are just trying get an education and have the best life possible in spite of a life-threatening disability.

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  12. I’m thinking that everyone is really missing the real point. Instead of narrowing the focus to whether or not certain foods should be banned form schools to protect the kids with allergies, because seriously, to be fair ALL allergen foods should be banned on that premise. We SHOULD be focusing on WHY food allergies have become so prominent! Something is obviously causing it and it’s not some genetic thing it’s most definitely environmental. What’s different today then, say, 50 years ago? Upsurge in vaccines and what they are made with, GMO’s, excessive use of pesticides and weed killers like Round Up (that is liberally sprayed over wheat crops right before harvest to make them dry out evenly), etc. We need to find the causes and eliminate them. Food was never meant to kill us.

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  13. I take offense to the rude tone of this article. If you are trying to educate people, you shouldn’t alienate them right off the bat. How does it help to assume everyone you are talking to is an a$$#0/€ who hates your kid and wants her to die just so their kid can eat PB? That’s ridiculous. Many people aren’t aware of the deadliness of peanut allergies, so a nicer and more informative article would have been better received. I feel attacked when I just came here desiring more info, and being attacked makes me more resistant to hearing your story or making changes. 
    I wanted to ask, what does happen when that kid with the deadly dairy/whey, wheat, egg, citrus, sugar, etc. allergy attends school? Shall we ban all foods and force every child to eat plain rice provided by the school system, no individuality or parent control over what their child is eating? Addressing the cause of the allergies is great, but what about RIGHT NOW? Will I be asked to stop sending sandwiches/tortillas, crackers, hard-boiled eggs, yogurt, oranges, apples, etc. so as to protect these kids with various allergies? Where is the line drawn? I have a friend whose daughter is allergic to apples and citrus, and it might not be as immediately deadly as a peanut allergy, but it does affect the girl’s gut and mental focus for days after as they clear her system…Her parents feel this is a very serious consequence… so the list of school-banned foods grows, right, because she has a right to attend school without it degrading her health?  
    I have a child who eats a limited selection of fruits, very few veggies, and very limited protein sources. I’ve worked for years to increase his selection, trying things 100s of times in 100s of ways, to no avail due to sensory issues. I struggle to get him to eat enough protein at home when I’m there to walk him through it, I don’t have a clue how I’ll maintain his healthy eating and enough protein to be able to focus and learn once he goes to school all day. PB is one of the few proteins he eats without hesitation or cajoling or pleading (and that can be sent to school without being warmed to be edible). (I’ve tried sun-butter but he hates it.) 
    And what about his friend and current classmate, who has an IEP and functions generally well in typical class settings, but who only eats 4 foods, and the only source of protein in those 4 foods is PB? His mom has detailed with agony the lengths they have gone through just to get him to accept PB, and even then only one specific kind. Both parents work and cannot come to school every lunch to drag him to the parking lot to eat (like a previous commenter stated was one family’s solution). What are their options? Just as you can’t just talk a kid out of being allergic, you can’t just talk a kid with special needs into eating ham or eggs because a kid at school can’t eat PB.
    What about the plethora of parents of special needs kids I’ve worked with who lament that their kids only eat a handful of things, and only certain color foods with certain textures, usually including PB as a main protein source? The author of this article massively downplays the torment (and years of therapies) these parents have gone through just to get to this place with their kids, the sheer relief they feel to have a sure-fire source of protein for their kids who struggle in nearly all aspects of their day. These are parents who also constantly fear a phone call from the principal or sp.ed teacher detailing that days’ meltdowns, injuries, possible removal from school, etc., and who maybe had one less thing to stress over when their kid finally started eating PB athey’dy could be confident in their kid dealing with less behaviors during their school day because they weren’t hungry. 
    I’m NOT saying kids with peanut allergies don’t belong in our schools or no one should care, I’m saying there are two very stressful and scary sides to this story, and there has to be a solution that works so that ALL these kiddos can go to school and thrive. This is FAR from a case of,  “oh my god, my kid just doesn’t WANT to eat something else for lunch!  So unfair!” These are major issues for families on both sides. Stop assuming and attacking, start a discussion and search for functional solutions together.

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    1. This article is so insulting (and I am equally insulted that someone I know and consider to be a fairly reasonable person would share this and trumpet it). The author does nothing more than perpetuate the stereotype of the parents of food-allergic kids as irrational idiots who think every other parent is selfish, but fail to see in themselves how selfish they are. My kid’s classroom has a dairy allergy, peanut allergy, tree nut allergy and wheat allergy. I do what I can to send in treats for parties and special occasions that address these needs, but articles like this make me want to say “Screw it.” Guess what: it’s not all about your kid and your failure to understand the other side (or even admit there is “another side”) is what makes parents not even want to see it from your perspective (and as the matter of fact makes me want to pack my kid a pbj for lunch tomorrow because you are such a jerk). What exactly is going to happen to your child in adulthood, or at college? Are you going to demand the university your child attends strip its coffers of all foods that your child cannot enjoy? What about your child’s eventual workplace? Will you follow him or her there as well demanding special consideration to the detriment of others?

      Also, why doesn’t anyone address that this increase in food allergies has happened almost exclusively in white, upper-middle class families? Families that can, as the poster mentions above, afford to divest their family menus from an early age. Much of the literature on food allergies (except for some of the peanut/legume allergies) points to the reaction to the allergen decreasing with exposure, as in the case of dairy and wheat. Even some peanut allergies would be limited by exposure, and this is exactly what has happened in lower income and minority families where the budget just does not allow for the allergen-free foods. Why is this purely a developed-world, Western issue? Peanuts are prevalent in hundreds of cultures, but the US is the only country (some of Britain is on this bandwagon also) with the epidemic. Peanuts and peanut butter are cheap and remain some of the best sources for protein available worldwide, and families that have budget issues do have a hard time finding a substitute. To this author, and as the poster above says: Get off your high horse and try to see a compromise, or at least seek reason before condemning and attacking.

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      1. When they say ‘decreases with exposure’, what they are referring to is the use of allergen immunotherapy, which is controlled and carried out in a hospital environment equipped with crash carts. There is a reason for this; allergies can be fatal, easily fatal. The ‘exposure’ is not the kind of exposure daily in the classroom. Certainly NOT daily exposure. Allergen Immunotherapy requires specific serums to be drawn up after extensive testing to cater to the individual’s need. It requires a period of at least a week between each shot. It is very specific, very controlled and yes, it works, but only because of how clinical it all is. So please get your facts straight before drawing on evidence you do not even know the backstory of.

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  14. I can’t believe people are offended by this post. Seriously? Obviously the one’s that are do not have a child with a deadly allergy. I don’t either by the way but Iknow it is a very scary thing. It consumes your life. And yes, it makes parents angry that some other parents feel inconvenienced that they can’t send peanut butter. Gimme a break. What the heck did kids eat 200 years ago? Surely not only peanut butter.

    Heck, my daughter’s teacher has a peanut allergy, not even a student, and I don’t want to bring it. My daughter does eat other foods, whole foods. I mean, if all kids eat is pb & j they will surely be deficient is some vitamin or another anyway.

    I could never feel inconvenienced by someone else’s deadly allergy. That is thoughtless and selfish. How about some compassion for those going through difficulties like this.

    The author has obviously experienced some parent who has shown heir irriation about not being able to bring peanut butter and it’s a shame. He has a right to be upset. There is so little compassion in the world now and it’s very sad. I

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  15. I am a not so popular commentator. However, I have in 16 years of schooling my children, 6 of those years I taught school myself, never had a child in any of our classrooms (four children, hundreds of kids I taught) had a child allergic to peanuts. To this day, none of my children’s schools ban peanut butter, and as a matter of fact, pbj sandwiches are offered as a choice to children who either forget their lunch or don’t like the hot lunch being served.

    Now before I get accused of living in a small town and just fortunate. I lived in the DC suburbs 10 years ago, not a student with allergies. I lived in Nashville TN, my son took PB every day, with no issues with classmates, and the list goes on. I moved many times in 20 years. Now, I have children who have pecan allergies, egg allergies, and even milk allergies in my home, but I don’t expect anyone else to change what they are eating just for my kids.

    And I speak from a sincere place that if my child were so stinking allergic that I was constantly worried he might die at school, I would home-school him. Heck, I have home-schooled for lesser reasons off and on over the years, reasons that many would have thought were trivial. Certainly breathing and life is not trivial so why put it on every one else? Honestly, I believe the health of the child is a parental matter.

    This is just my opinion, my personal experiences, and from a parent who has two children who would starve if they didn’t eat peanut butter because it is often all they will eat. It is an excellent source of protein, and much healthier than nasty lunch meat filled with nitrates slathered in condiments filled with chemicals I mean preservatives. I would much rather feed my children homemade or organic, all natural peanut butter, but hey, that’s just me.

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  16. Wow! You know, my daughter is very allergic to wheat, dairy, penicillin, and something the dentist used at our last visit. I would never dream of forcing an entire class or especially an entire school to ban all wheat and dairy. I am allergic to gluten, dairy, soy, pea protein, nickel (and even have to be careful about how much nickel I have in my diet as food contains nickel as well as jewelry), isothiazolinone (found in almost all liquid personal care products and cleaning products), and several other things. I never expect others to cater to my allergies. My husband and my other children all have various allergies. We are talking about real allergies as verified by testing by an allergist. None of us expects the people around us to ban the foods and other substances we are allergic to. I do understand that a peanut allergy can be very dangerous to someone, as can any allergy, depending on the severity for each individual person.

    While I realize we have the right to a free public education, we also have the right to educate our children at home. I also realize that the safest place for my children is at home. We have chosen to homeschool. I know it’s not easy, and it’s not for everybody. However, I believe it is downright selfish and wrong to treat people the way you are! This is my family. These children are my responsibility. Rights or not, mistakes can be made. Someone could eat peanuts for breakfast and not thoroughly wash their hands. They could have a smear of peanut butter on their face when they reach the classroom or a smear on their clothes. A child could sneak a snack onto the bus. You can’t hold everyone responsible (other children included) for the safety of your child with special needs.

    All that being said, if I did happen to send my very allergic child to school I would have to say that nuts are a major part of her diet considering all the other allergies in our family, and not one of us is allergic to nuts. If nuts are taken out of her diet as well as dairy, wheat, and soy, that doesn’t leave a whole lot of options for a well-balanced lunch. I wouldn’t be very happy to have to conform to that, especially if the nut-allergic child wasn’t even in my child’s classroom. I wouldn’t dream of demanding such a thing from everyone in the school. Add to that your absolutely rude, sarcastic attitude, and I would feel like intentionally adding nut ingredients to my child’s lunch, just to spite you! (I wouldn’t, but I would feel like it. I can imagine that many people would act on such a feeling, though.) I think you would get better results by being more respectful of others. I am saying this as a person who recently spent 5 days next to my husband’s side at a hospital because of a severe allergic reaction that almost killed him. I would rather be kind to others and not infringe on their liberty, keep my child away from situations where they may have allergic reactions (even if it means hindering our ability to make more money by having 2 parents working outside the home), rather than push my weight around, make everyone uncomfortable, and possibly put my child more at risk of being bullied by the other kids because of her food allergies.

    And in regards to the person above who thinks food allergies are mostly in upper middle class white families who can afford to eat different foods: that has got to be the most ignorant, stupid thing I have ever heard in regards to allergies! My family is lower class (think poverty line, eligible for food stamps and medicaid). We can’t afford to have food allergies. We also can’t afford to be sick in bed, and we can’t afford to lose our daughter to an allergic reaction. Keeping our daughter alive by adjusting our diet and homeschooling is more important than buying cheaper foods that contain allergens. Repeated exposure to allergens definitely causes more and more severe reactions, not less severe. Our allergist said it was very important to prevent all contact with the allergenic foods.

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  17. I understand the food allergy issue. I have an allergy to pork. I get it. My curiosity is what about children with a whole other type of issue? Autism. I have worked with and know many autistic children. Many are very picky about food. I have seen kids who won’t eat anything (including ice cream or cookies) without ketchup on it. I have seen kids who will only eat chicken nuggets and Mac and cheese. I have also seen kids who will only eat if they have peanut butter on something in their meal. If you try to make them eat something else or do not provide these foods, the consequences are dire. If you have never dealt with an autism melt down, let me tell you – it can be scary. Especially as the kids get older and if they are nonverbal…well wow. The autism and all its little idiosyncrasies are just as much as a disability too. (Trust me I had a kid give me a concussion once during one of these melt downs.). What do you do then?

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  18. Hopefully this writer did not address his kid’s school that way. As a mom, I would respond to any information that anything that could be done to make things easier for others in a way to make it happen. I got rid of peanut butter entirely, when a kid in my son’s cubscout den announced that he was deathly allergic to peanuts. Wanted to reduce the chances of any exposure from my child of the substance. I thnk we all worked on this, and I would have done so even if the parent was a jerk in making the request, since the important thing is that the life and well being of a child, a human was at stake. But not everyone thinks that way.

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