The children chime in: Dealing with food allergies
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For 7-year-old Cara Kelly, a second grader at OLP who’s allergic to peanuts, tree nuts, sesame and soy, peanut butter is the food that’s hardest not to eat, although she’s well aware of why she can’t have it. Since she can now read, Cara has gotten in the habit of reading labels on food packages. She’s had two allergic reactions since being diagnosed as a 14-month-old, but each time her mother Susan was there to administer her prescribed EpiPen.
While Theo has never had to use his EpiPen, Vincent has twice since being diagnosed after trying baby formula for the first time. At a family party six years ago, Vincent was drinking orange juice out of a sealed cup while his cousin was drinking milk out of a similar cup. Vincent accidentally picked up his cousin’s drink and took a gulp before realizing it was something he’s never tasted. His mother Julie quickly administered his prescribed EpiPen and after a trip to the hospital for observation he was fine.
The second instance came only a few weeks ago when a family member accidentally handed him the wrong syrup topping for his ice cream. Vincent looked over the ingredients but missed where it said “low-fat milk” toward the bottom. He tried the syrup topping and his throat began itching immediately. Again, Julie gave him the EpiPen and he was OK.
“It was a wake-up call,” Julie said of the most recent incident. “Just because nothing has happened doesn’t mean it can’t.”
Dealing with lunches, birthdays and holidays with food allergies
At lunchtime in the OLP cafeteria, Theo and Vincent sat at a designated food allergy table from kindergarten through fifth grade. Now that they’re sixth graders, they are sitting with their contemporaries for the first time. “It’s nice to be able to talk to my actual classmates,” Theo said.
During birthday parties, kids with food allergies can often feel left out. But Cara, Theo and Vincent each said their parents make sure they always bring food for them to eat while others are eating cookies and cake they can’t have.