I am writing to comment on the article printed in the Sunday Mail 20/11/05.
Firstly I would like to say that I empathise with you, having a child
with anaphylaxis myself. I am sure we would all agree that the health
and safety of our children is paramount, whether they have anaphylaxis
or not. The primative instinct of protection is the primary focus for
all parents, and I applaude your attempts to protect the safety of your
As you would know, anaphylaxis is a severe and life threatening reaction
to an ‘foreign’ body that the immune systen mistakenly believes to be a
threat. This could be anything, not just nuts as stated in the article –
I am sure you were misquoted there.
My 5 year old son is dairy and egg anaphylactic, and to a lesser extent
allergic to peanuts and a wide variety of other foodstuffs. His life is
no more or no less important than those people with pea/nut anaphylaxis.
How can there be legislation to protect the pea/nut allergic and nothing
for the thousands who could die from coming into contact with the
endless other things that their bodies may react to? You can’t legislate
against everything. Yes, it is unfair. Yes, our lives are more
complicated than others. Yes, we have so much to worry about every
minute of every day, I would never pretend there is no difficulty living
with food-induced anaphylaxis.
It would be quite discriminatory for schools to choose who they will
protect and who they will cross their fingers for, based on what kids
are allergic to. Just like you, we have to deal with the fact our boy
may die if he comes into contact with any foods or drinks containing the
offending allergen, but can you imagine a school banning every dairy or
egg product from their grounds? This certainly wasn’t offered by our
school for next year when we were interviewing them. If you think it
possible, please tell us how. We wanted to change the world but have
realised our job is to prepare our son to live in the world as we know it.
At the Kindy/Preschool where our son has attended for the last two
years, no food bans were in place, and never did we ask for any. There
was, however, excellent teacher/parent communication, extensive teacher
training, student training, and management strategies to reduce the risk
of exposure. We are grateful to proclaim that there have been no
incidences in the two years, even with almost every child having butter,
yoghurt, cheese dips, milk and peanut butter on a daily basis. With 2
weeks to go though, we still hold our breath everytime the phone rings
on those 3 preschool days. But that is the life we live. We deal with it
the best way we can.
The best skills we can teach our son is the ability to look out for
himself, have excellent judgement, good communication and an
understanding of his life-long condition, because he will have it for
life, not just during school hours. The world is filled with nuts,
dairy, eggs, fruit, bees…….. before school, after school, at parks,
beaches, shopping centres, parties, sleepovers etc. It can’t be
eliminated, but we can teach our children to live with what they have
been dealt. It is not up to the government, schools or anyone else. At
the end of the day you can’t trust anyone to do their job properly but
yourself. Legalised accountability can never ensure the safety of our
children. Educating our loved ones can.
The anaphylaxis support group, Anaphylaxis Australia do not advocate
banning foods from school. They recognise that people can forget about
the ban, blatantly defy the ban or genuinely not realise the food/drink
contains the allergen. Teachers and admin can hide behind a false sense
of comfort thinking that noone has the banned product at school, and not
actively look for any signs of a reaction, as there ‘shouldn’t’ be any
allergen at school. I know this happens, as it has happened to an
aquaintance of mine, and at the preschool of a friend. So, I do urge
you, if your school of choice does ban peanuts, that they be constantly
reminded to be on the lookout for possible reactions, as there are never
I do commend you for getting the difficulties of raising children with
anaphylaxis out to the masses, and the problems our kids face on a daily
basis. Thank you.
I do want to wish you a very safe and happy Christmas. I hope it is an
enjoyable time for you all, as stress-free and as trouble-free as possible!