Since it's Food Allergy Awareness Week this week, many people are doing special things to promote even more awareness in their communities. In addition to the "festivities" hosted by FAAN and others (including an FA Twitter party on Friday -- more on that tomorrow) I've read some well-written, heartfelt blog posts this week. It's helpful to read about other parents and their kids going through the same things as you.
This week has also got me thinking about how much food allergy awareness you can promote just in your daily conversations with other parents. And for those of you on Facebook, you know how adding a link here and there can spark conversations that you otherwise wouldn't have.
For example, a lot of the moms in my neighborhood and my daughter's kindergarten class are on Facebook. When I post a link, sometimes I get feedback, questions or commiserating from other parents of nut-allergic kids. Beyond my Facebook interactions, I may happen to drop my allergy concerns into conversations from time to time or address them when my oldest daughter is asked to a party or event.
I never make a big deal about it unless I have to or if somebody asks (don't want people's eyes glazing over when I talk to them), but I find that the more I get to know the other parents, the more questions about food allergies many of them have for me.
This is a great thing. The way I see it, the more people who can put a face to food allergies, the more willing they will be to understand it and accept it. You're much less likely to be hostile to a condition or problem if you personally know someone who is going through it.
I'm certainly not hitting the people I see every day over the head with food allergy news, but as they get to know me, they do tend to come to me with questions or ask for my opinions. I'm sure many of you out there have the same experience.
So while Food Allergy Awareness Week only comes once a year, don't discount those brief conversations you have with others. You never know the positive effect you may be having. On the other side of the coin, even if someone is ignorant, don't react negatively. I always figure you can catch more flies with honey than with vinegar, so if you respond in kindness and get your point across calmly, you can do a lot of good.
I'd also like to thank all the parents who have educated people about EpiPens, made allergy-free cupcakes, hosted a family party to avoid food allergy concerns or just put up with ignorance without getting rattled. You're "celebrating" Food Allergy Awareness Week every day. Keep up the good work!