Allergy Fun Knows Your Children Are More Than Just Their Multiple Food Allergies
Parents of children with multiple severe food allergies can often feel as though these allergies come to define their lives and those of their children. There is no denying that food allergies involve a lot of work and worry, but tools like the Allergy Fun photobook aim to educate kids about allergies while emphasizing that allergies do not define their identities and their lives.
Grace O’Neill, the author of Allergy Fun, is a pediatric counselor with two children who both suffer from multiple food allergies. When her first child was diagnosed with multiple severe food allergies, there were very few resources designed to help kids and families in this situation. Although she discovered a number of books for children that addressed the issue of single food allergies, she found none that dealt with the unique challenges posed by having many food allergies that must be juggled all at once.
O’Neill was inspired to create her own book as a resource for other multiple food allergy families. “Allergy Fun is the coming together of my life with two allergy kids and my desire to see all kids develop into caring, confident and contributing members in our society,” she explains.
Allergy Fun Can Be Personalized to Help Make Every Child Feel Special
The first part of the Allergy Fun book introduces readers to a little boy named Matthew who has multiple food allergies. The goal of Matthew’s story is not only to help children realize that they are not alone when it comes to living with multiple food restrictions, but also to show them that allergies are only a small part of who they are. “The Allergy Fun story […] encourages the reader to focus on friends, family and fun in order to live a full life,” O’Neill said.
Allergy Fun is a double-sided book, and when you flip it over you will find an eight-page section called My Allergy Fun, where children can personalize the book with pictures of themselves, their families and their particular allergies. The personalization helps children feel special and can also be used as a tool to educate friends, teachers and other important people about their food allergies.
The Allergy Fun Blog and Facebook Site Are Great Resources
The blog and Facebook pages are not just platforms for purchasing a book—O’Neill has made sure that these sites are active resources resources for families with multiple food allergies. She regularly posts recipes, educational ideas and other helpful allergy-centered information, in addition to providing a space for allergy parents to seek advice and support.
In the future, she hopes to continue developing resources to help kids with multiple allergies, including educational tools that can be used to help preschools and schools be better at accommodating the needs of such children. O’Neill encourages contributions from others in the allergy community, saying, “If you have ideas of what would help you increase allergy awareness in your community, we would love to have your input.”
A Positive Response to Allergy Fun From Allergy Parents
The response to Allergy Fun has been very positive since the book was released. One mother declares, “The pictures are bright and bold, the information is well-written and easy to read, and the message is loud and clear.”
One reviewer notes that “it’s hard to make anyone who doesn’t deal with food allergies understand, but it’s especially hard for kids to understand. But with this book, the food-allergic child could share it with his/her friends and say, ‘See, these are the foods that can make me sick.’ ”
Another parent praises the book’s handling of a difficult subject matter, saying, “This is a beautiful way of looking at something that can be very challenging for children and families. As a parent, educator and writer myself, I am so glad this fun book has been created. I will be recommend it to all parents who have kids with allergies.”
Allergies May Not Be Fun, but Life With Allergies Certainly Can Be
The title Allergy Fun may strike some people as odd, given the potentially deadly nature of multiple, serious food allergies. However, as the parent of two children with multiple allergies, O’Neill recognizes the importance of making sure that children can still be children, despite the extra challenges they may face.
“I believe it is important to ensure our children do not frame their whole existence around allergies,” she said. “Young children with severe food allergies certainly have many restrictions to learn and understand, but within these boundaries there can be an abundance of freedom, fun and adventure.”