Recently I learned a term used in a certain way that gave me something to think about. I had heard the term devaluation before and knew it applied to people, usually those with severe disabilities. You know, society devalues people, sad but true. It made me think about those with allergies and asthma, are they devalued?
When I wrote about the Winnipeg boy and the baseball team and after hearing Meredith Broussard’s interview on the over reacting of allergies, it sort of all came together. Are our children with allergies and with asthma being devalued, not only by school, but also maybe by us?
I know a lot of people are pushing for peanut free classrooms and tables; we send in safe treats for our kids with food allergies because they can’t eat the birthday cupcakes, our kids with asthma and allergies take their Epipens and inhalers wherever they go. These things are necessary for their health, their safety, and sometimes their lives. But does it sometimes go too far?
Have you ever not let your child do something for fear he might have an allergic reaction? Maybe not let him go to a birthday party? Maybe not let her go out to eat with a friend when you couldn’t go? Not let them go on a field trip for fear there might be a reaction without you or the nurse nearby? That is devaluing.
We need to let our kids with allergies and asthma be as normal as possible, because they are normal. We need to take precautions and warn them and inform others, but we need to let them be the whole person that they are, allergies and asthma included. We really can’t wipe every surface clean or make sure no one they ever come in contact with has eaten peanut butter. But we can teach them to wash their hands, not share food, know their bodies and signs of a reaction.
A lot of kids grow out of their allergies and asthma, a lot don’t. We, as parents, are not always going to be there with them. We can’t go to college with them, they don’t want us on their dates, and one day they will move out, maybe to another city, state, even country. If we protect them too much, they won’t know how to protect themselves, and that is devaluing.
Instead of devaluing (and none of us do it purposefully, I’m sure), advocate, empower. Teach your children how to be safe, what not to eat, what’s Ok to eat, how to tell the difference in what is safe and what’s not. Teach them the signs of a reaction, whether it’s asthma or allergy induced. Teach them to speak up for themselves and to help others understand the implications of their condition.
Yes, allergies are serious. They are not be taken lightly as Meredith Broussard says, nor or they to be taken to the other extreme as we see in the Winnipeg case. They are to be taken for what they are, a dangerous, sometimes life threatening condition, and then lives need to be lived. Birthday parties need to be attended, baseball games played. People valued.
– Heather Legg