We just had our annual check in with the allergist and something interesting happened…
In preparation for my son’s visits, I always jot down questions for the allergist throughout the week leading up to the appointment and ask my husband if he has anything he’d like me to address. At the appointment, I typically speak with the doctor in semi-private while my son reads or draws on the other side of the examining room. I think I was always protecting him from potentially scary information and for answers that were more complicated and involved than he needed.
Now that my son is 8 yrs old, I’ve started asking him if HE has anything he’d like to discuss with the doctor. I expected him not to have much input seeing as he had been in good health all year with no allergic incidents.
But, as it turns out, he had quite a bit he wanted to know. Many of his questions were school and socially-related scenarios. He was insistent upon writing down his own queries and asking them of the allergist himself. Our allergist did a phenomenal job of answering them so that my son could understand fully and, in the scenario-driven questions, that he knew what to do.
This interaction was eye-opening. Understandably, being a child – especially one with food allergies – things are often out of his control. This simple interaction gave my son renewed confidence, a voice. It bolstered his understanding of his food allergies, complete with its limitations and sometimes limitlessness. It quelled his worries. And importantly, it boosted his confidence about speaking with adults in general and, of course, for managing his food allergies.
Bottom line: Involve your child in the process of visiting the allergist. Allow them to take some control over their food allergies. You’ll be fascinated by what interests and worries them and will delight in the confidence and power they maintain over their food allergies in the process.
Some of you were curious about the kinds of questions my son asked over the last couple of visits. Our allergist listened patiently to each question and his responses were clear and thorough each time. If you’re curious, ask your own allergist these questions to get answers specific to your individual case. Here are some of his questions over the last couple of visits:
- How can I stop my asthma from interrupting my day?
- Do I have to sit at the peanut-free table all the time?
- When can I start having (school-provided) hot lunches?
- Can I touch an acorn (maybe in science class or at the playground)? And, what do I do after I touch it?
- What should I do when people bring snacks after my sports and how do I know if it’s safe?
- Is it safe for me to be around someone at a Nationals’ baseball game who’s eating peanuts?
- What if my friend has eaten something with nuts before we play together? Can I still play with him?
- Am I allergic to the outside part (shell) of an egg? Can I touch them to dye them or help my mom cook?
- When can I start drinking regular milk? I’d like to try ice cream.