For a blog about Asperger’s, Allergies, and Adventures Abroad, I don’t talk much about the allergies. Life with allergies is not fun. Life with an autism spectrum disorder + allergies is terrifying. And life with an ASD + life-threatening allergies + being abroad is a major reason I consume lots of comfort food. Allergy-safe comfort food, naturally.
Things aren’t so bad in South Africa. Food labels tend to adhere to the strict guidelines in the UK, so we generally know if there are hidden nuts in food. There isn’t the same level of awareness and protection that we were used to in the US, however. When we lived in Virginia, Pudding’s level of peanut and tree nut allergies automatically meant that her classroom was strictly nut-free. Though she always had an epi-pen at the school nurse, she was reasonably safe and legally protected. There are no such measures in her current school. The staff received training from me on using the epi-pen, and they watch the children closely at lunch time. I just have to hope that is enough.
We do our best to educate Pudding about the danger, but though she repeats the words back to us, we don’t know how much she understands. Though we tell her she can’t share food, it may be no match for her impulsivity.
Pudding’s blood tests reveal the highest level of peanut allergy, along with a cashew nut allergy also at potentially fatal levels. She has never eaten nuts, so we don’t know what her true reaction will be, but be assured that I don’t ever want to find out. I’ve lived with the same reaction to fish and seafood all my life, though I’m definitely not as reactive as I once was. Nut allergies are known to worsen through the lifespan.
Today we got the blood results for Cubby, and imagine my surprise and delight to find that he isn’t allergic to any of the major allergens, including peanuts and tree nuts. In fact, the doctor wants us to begin giving him nuts to build up his tolerance.
And here things get complicated. We don’t have nut products in the house for Pudding’s sake. He has been exposed to the same strict rules as Pudding all his life. “We don’t eat nuts,” is echolalia I hear from both my kids several times a day. I can’t undo our efforts with Pudding by allowing her to see Cubby eat nuts.
So my only option is to allow his school to start feeding him nuts, and put some faith in blood tests that aren’t exactly infallible. Just another part of our adventures in Asperger’s, Allergies, and Adventures Abroad. It was good news today, so why do I feel like saying nuts?