I’ve started discussing the social isolation that occurs not just for the child with the allergy but also the parent. Rivaling the social isolation for parents is anxiety. If you didn’t have an anxiety disorder prior to your child’s diagnosis, you got one within about 10 minutes. You are pretty much still in shock as the physician or their office staff is demoing the epi pen and explaining the precautions that you need to take to not just keep your child well but alive. You get your prescriptions called into your pharmacy, some handouts of obvious sources of the allergens not to eat or come in contact with, informed of a few reputable online resources and you are headed out the door.
That’s really not insensitive of the allergist or their staff as honestly, that’s about all you can absorb in those first few minutes anyway. So, a little later…You are still reeling but the questions are never ending. You’ve booked a follow-up appointment with the allergist but you know that he/she doesn’t have 12 consecutive hours.
Where do you go for guidance on all the detailed questions about label reading, dining out, handling social dining occasions and schools? Let me tell you where I went. No Nuts Moms. This group was founded several years ago by fellow Michigan allergy Mom, Lisa Rutter. She was seeking some other children with food allergies for playmates for her 3-year-old son and also for some support and camaraderie for herself. What began as a zoo play date has blossomed into an international support system for parents like myself who begin this journey a bit dazed and definitely overwhelmed. I am a registered dietitian and it still overwhelms me at times. I am so very grateful that Lisa had the vision to start this group and has such a passion for education and awareness.
I would recommend starting on the No Nuts Moms website. This site has lots of great articles and you can find a local No Nuts Moms Group near you by clicking on “Groups” at the top. The groups are free to join and open to all families with children with life-threatening food allergies.
Most states have a group and many have multiple chapters based on location. No Nuts Moms is even international as now they have an Australia and UK group as well. They also have a Facebook Community Page open to all that need support or just want to learn more about food allergies as it contains news and popular blogs. There are also closed groups that anyone can join where you can read, ask questions and even vent when you need to. The national Facebook page now has over 10,200 members. If you are a parent of a child with food allergies, join the National Facebook here: No Nuts Moms Group Support Group and Forum, or find the Facebook Group for your region here.
The groups/chapters each have their own Facebook pages and the leaders organize playdates for kids, food-free events, and Mom’s Night Outs as well. The groups focus on socialization for our kids and us, advocating and raising awareness and sometimes just staying sane in a world that is often less than kind to us and our children.
Speaking of events – let’s talk about a very exciting event hosted by No Nuts Moms of Ann Arbor coming to Ann Arbor on May 9. Favorite food allergy celebrity musician Kyle Dine will be performing Food Allergies Rock at Burns Park Elementary at 2 p.m. The musical event kicks off at 1 p.m. with crafts, followed by the concert at 2 p.m. Then, at 3 p.m. there is playtime and meet and greet with Kyle.
Thanks to the sponsorship of Food Allergy Research and Education (FARE) and an Ann Arbor physicians group specializing in allergies and immunology, this event is free. Donations are accepted to continue the group’s mission of support, education and advocacy, but will be given to FARE unless otherwise requested. The event is also food-free to keep all our kiddos safe. Here’s a sampling of the musical fun you’d see at the event:
Katie VanBuren is a clinical dietitian with ProMedica Bixby and Herrick Hospitals. She has 19 years of experience, with 17 of those being with ProMedica.