One of the things I’ve learned in my time here at Mott Children’s Hospital is that sometimes kids themselves are the best teachers we have.
My colleague, Jacqueline Kaufman, PhD, and I developed the Kids4Kids video series to take advantage of the incredible expertise of the kids we work with to help other kids and families going through similar experiences.
Over the course of the next few weeks, we’ll be debuting a new Kids4Kids video for you each week. This week’s video features kids sharing their experiences adjusting to a physical difference from their illness or treatment – things like scars, hair loss, or being in a wheelchair.
As Halloween approaches, focus on what your child with food allergies can do rather than what he or she cannot do. Sure, candy and trick or treating are synonymous with Halloween, but there’s much more to the holiday than gorging on sweet treats.
Fun Without Food
Get into the Halloween spirit by enlisting your child to help decorate for the holiday. Carve or paint pumpkins. If you cannot carve a real pumpkin because of an allergy, craft stores sell foam pumpkins that can be carved just like the real ones (an added bonus with the foam ones — no cleaning out pumpkin guts).
Get crafty and make your own Halloween decorations and costumes. Tissue paper ghosts are a cinch. Simply ball up a piece of tissue paper or a plastic shopping bag. Place it in the center of a flat sheet of tissue paper, then wrap the corners of the sheet around the ball. Tie off the ball with string to create a head. Decorate with a spooky face!
An estimated 100,000 people in the U.S. have retinitis pigmentosa. Retinitis pigmentosa (RP) is a group of related eye disorders that cause progressive vision loss. These disorders affect the retina, which is the layer of light-sensitive tissue at the back of the eye. Vision loss occurs as the light sensing cells of the retina gradually deteriorate. Initial symptoms include night vision problems and challenges with peripheral vision, or side vision. Individuals with RP may be diagnosed in early childhood or not until they are adults.
If your child or someone you know has been diagnosed with retinitis pigmentosa, here are 5 points that may help you understand this condition:
A recent study published in the journal Pediatrics found that nearly half of all infants in their study group had positional plagiocephaly, or a flat spot on their head (from Greek plagio- slantedand -kephale, head). The study authors suggest that educating parents about how to prevent this condition should begin before the 2-month-old well-child visit.
These flat spots have become more common since the recommendation that infants be put to sleep on their backs, a recommendation that has decreased infant mortality from Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. While flat spots are typically not cause for concern medically, they can create cosmetic issues that range from insignificant to facial deformities.
There are several things you can do to help prevent flat spots from developing:
Encourage your baby to turn to both sides. If you typically hold your baby in your right arm so he or she is looking out to the right, switch it up and hold your baby in the other arm. The same principle applies with feeding. Alternate the arm in which you hold the baby during feeding so he or she is forced to turn in a different direction each time. When your baby is old enough to be spoon fed, alternate the sides on which you sit while feeding him or her.
As program coordinator of the University of Michigan Food Allergy Center, a school nurse and mother of a grown child with food allergies — I’ve dealt with food allergies from almost every angle. Now that back-to-school time approaches, it’s a good time to make sure you have all your plans in place to ensure your child has a healthy and safe school year.
If this is your child’s first year in a school or his fifth, you need to go through the entire process of completing the paperwork and making the appropriate connections. If you haven’t done so already, now is the time to get this done — not during the mayhem of the first day of school. Here’s a checklist:
Identify and connect with the key contact person at the school. If the school has a nurse or health aide, that’s the correct person. If not, the best person to work with is typically the school secretary, but contact your school to find out with whom you should be working.
Complete your paperwork. All schools will require some type of documentation that needs to be completed and re-filed each year. You’ll need documentation of your child’s allergy from your healthcare provider. The school may have a form they want completed or your doctor can provide you with a form to use.
Create an Individual Health Plan. This plan is proactive and clearly outlines what your child can and cannot do. For example, it can include instructions that your child is to eat no other food than the food you provide for him or her. Or, it can state that he or she can only eat nut-free or dairy-free food (or whatever specifics relate to your child). The plan should address parties, field trips, the lunchroom setting and any other areas that you feel are important.
Food Allergy Action Plan. This plan gives clear instructions on what to do if your child has an allergic reaction or is exposed to one of their allergens. Food Allergy Research & Education (FARE) has a great form (Food Allergy Action Plan) you can download from their website for your physician to complete. Give the completed plan to your child’s teacher and school contact person.
Talk, talk, talk. Make sure all appropriate staff at your child’s school are trained and informed of his or her allergies. It is also a must that they have reviewed the Individual Health Plan, Food Allergy Action Plan and location of their emergency medications.