No, I am not SuperAllergyMom, but maybe My Kids and Online Tools Can Help Me Feel that Way?

Health Expert? No way.

I am a pediatrician and parent of two kids with multiple severe food allergies. You would think that as a health care provider I have extra superpowers to help protect my kids from the ill effects of their chronic disease, as I am familiar with the medical establishment and have lots of friends who are doctors! But when it comes to food allergies and my kids, I don’t feel very empowered since most life-threatening situations for them are totally out of my control. It’s that exposure to the peanut butter sandwich in the lunchroom or the glass of milk spills at the table at daycare or school that can lead to a life-threatening event and I can’t be with my kids 24-7 to protect them from these catastrophes.

Last year, we experienced this in a very real way when we moved to the Bay Area for a yearlong sabbatical at Stanford. The staff and personnel had very little knowledge of how to recognize symptoms of food allergy and when and how to give medications for their allergies, which was in great contrast to our experience in Michigan, where all of our kids’ teachers had formal ½ day workshops of food allergy and Epi-pen training with our very own allergist.

So I wasn’t sure what to, aside from pulling the kids out of school, or drilling my 6 year old son B and my toddler about how to and when to give the Epi-Pen Jr, which obviously were not very practical solutions. But there I was in Silicon Valley, and my kids’ teachers were walking around with their smartphones. So I thought, let’s make a Youtube video!

My Superhero Comes to the Rescue

But I wasn’t going to make this video myself. I wanted to design it with B, because the tiger mom and educator in me thought this would be a great learning experience for him. He was just learning to read and write, so this would be great practice for him, he would learn about his own disease and how to protect himself, and I might have some peace of mind that his teachers had an accessible place online that they could refer to anytime as a reference.

So this was the first video created by B, which focused on what symptoms to look for and when to give him an antihistamine and an Epi-Pen Jr. injection. I was really proud of him as he provided all of the text, illustrations, and narration for the entire video. Thanks B, for helping me make the transformation from #HelplessAllergyMom to #SuperAllergyMom!

How have you involved your kids in activities to help them better understand their own health and/or teach others? I would love to hear about your experiences!

Published on: December 16, 2013
About the Author
Photo of Joyce Lee MD PhD

Joyce Lee, MD, MPH, is Associate Professor of Pediatrics at the University of Michigan. She is a pediatric diabetes specialist (Pediatric Endocrinologist) who works with children and families at Mott Children’s Hospital, and she is a clinical researcher whose work focuses on childhood obesity, diabetes, and growth and pubertal development.

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