Spectrummy Mummy

Asperger's, Allergies, and Adventures Abroad

Posts Tagged ‘peanut

Nuts!

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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?

Written by Spectrummy Mummy

June 19, 2012 at 5:35 pm

Mosquitoes and Hope

with 5 comments

Let me preface this by saying that as I write, I’m covered in dozens of mosquito bites both old and new.  The fresh ones are demanding most of my attention, distracting me with their itch.  They are raised and red, each one about the diameter of an orange.  As bad as my reaction to mosquito bites, as attracted as they are to me.  Sitting yesterday in the shady woodland near a creek, I was a veritable banquet- no matter how much spray I applied.  It is fair to say that I hate mosquitoes, yet perversely, in the last few days they have given me hope.

I’ll start at the beginning of last week.  We had returned from visiting family in Florida.  Pudding was supposed to go back to school the next day, but couldn’t as we didn’t have a school-authorized Epi-Pen.  Only the week before we had learned that Pudding has become dangerously allergic to peanuts, despite never having them (or tree nuts) as part of her diet.  In fact, over the last year, she has become almost 10 times more allergic to peanuts than she was, even though she has had a very restricted diet monitored at all time, with no chance of cross-contamination.  With the news I resigned myself to the fact that I have no control.  No matter what environmental changes we try to implement, certain tendencies are just written into her DNA, I can’t change it, I can only accept it.

But I’ve been struggling to accept anaphylaxis in a child with autism.  A child who has a real disconnect from her body and senses, to the point where I’ve witnessed her receive injections without flinching, without noticing or feeling the needle enter her skin.  A girl who can’t tell me that she is ill, or in pain.  A child whose ADHD makes her incredibly impulsive, the one who would see an unattended chocolate bar with peanuts and eat it before any of us would notice.  And then be unlikely to tell us what had she had done.  A child whose pragmatic language skills would limit her ability to tell us that something was wrong, that she can’t breathe.

I’ve been terrified.  I’ve raged at the unfairness of it.  I’ve worried about it constantly.  And then, accepted that there is nothing I can do to change it.  It is part of her, and I need to accept it, and learn how to work around it.  It could be worse.  She can be in a room with peanuts, she may even be able to touch them, our main concern is with ingesting them.  As long as I continue to provide all her food, and she is watched to make sure that is all she eats, she should remain safe.  And we repeat and reinforce what she can and can’t eat, and hope for the best.

But back to mosquitoes.  One afternoon last week, the kids wanted to play on their sand and water table.  I joined them outside, but upon seeing the mosquitoes, I decided to go back inside and watch them through the patio doors.  The kids don’t tend to get bitten, so I thought they’d be okay.  Later that night I learned that their apparent immunity was only guaranteed when I was around, offering my tasty blood to the little suckers.  Pudding in particular had fallen victim to their thirst, and had a few bites.  She came up to me and showed her leg:

“What’s that, Mummy?”

I told her they were bug bites, and showed her the corresponding wounds on my own body.  She repeated bug bites as she prodded each one, and I applied the cream.

Itchy.”

Just one word.  One little word, I’d never heard her utter before, but it told me so much.  She was able to accurately describe a body sensation.  It gives me hope that, should the worst ever happen, she’d  seek me out, or seek somebody out, to find out what was wrong.

It is going to be a long time  before I’ll feel confident that Pudding can understand the danger of her allergy, but one mosquito bite at a time, I’m hopeful we’ll get there.  Now if you’ll excuse me, I have some cream to apply.

Written by Spectrummy Mummy

July 11, 2011 at 7:28 am