It’s official, I am disgusted with Dr. Nicholas Christakis and the negative effect his personal vendetta has created for food allergic children. A reader (Melinda - thank you again) let me know that Christakis was on the radio. KUOW in Seattle had the Doctor on The Conversation Show, hosted by Ross Reynolds.
Mr. Reynolds had Dr. Christakis, Dr. David Robinson (an allergist from Virginia Mason Medical Center) and James Morse (owner of Little Rae’s Bakery) on the show to discuss nut bans in grade schools.
Dr. Christakis begins his campaign for nut-utopia by regurgitating the number of deaths children experience from hand guns and sports injuries. He states that even though these deaths are more numerous then food allergy related deaths, schools continue to endorse school wide sporting events. Dr. Christakis then comes to the conclusion that not enough of our food allergic children are dying to warrant school wide bans. Dr. Christakis stresses throughout the show that the public health response to peanut allergy is disproportionate to the true problem.
What I found lacking during this one-sided interview, was the perspective of the food allergic child. What about the millions of children with food allergies who are continually ostracized because they can not fully participate in classroom activities or lunch?
Let’s stop worrying about what Dr. Robinson thinks: it takes too many resources to ban nuts. Let’s also stop worrying about Dr. Christakis’s personal agenda: he started all this because his child had to exit a bus for cleaning due to an allergen being present on the bus of a food allergic child. Because if we go down that road, of personal agendas or not wanting to “waste” resources on children with disabilities we would take giant leaps back to the 60’s before the ADA or IDEA. Do these doctors really want to begin a campaign against providing opportunity for those with hidden disabilities. Are our food allergic children not worthy of the same opportunities and activities in schools because of this medical condition?
If the doctor’s don’t believe that medical conditions protected by the federal government are worthy of accommodation how would they like our public schools react to disabilities? Would they like to remove ramps for wheelchair bound students since it takes resources to build them and Dr. Christakis’s child may have to exit the ramp so a quadriplegic student can enter the building? Or how about not providing teaching aides for those with special needs because that takes resources and Dr. Christakis’s son may have to walk around one to get to his desk? Better yet, lets not allow anyone who isn’t “perfect”,according to these two doctors, into public school because they need resources and money would be better spent on the “perfect” children - so they could be more perfect. Let the others self advocate, stress out and continue to be segregated because resources are just so time consuming, disabled students bother the other children - oh and they’re not worth it.
Let’s also take away how annoyed these two adults are about simple precautions that can be taken to keep children safe. Let’s instead think about the children and how they are feeling.
Yet Dr. Robinson and Dr. Christakis went on and on about personal responsibility and children as young as 8 or 9 being self advocates. Why can’t children go to school to learn? Why can’t school be a safe place foreveryoneto experience social interaction and learning without the need for added stress due to the fear that the food at the desk next to them may kill them. My child lives in a world where he has to self advocate at football practice, golf, robotics class, chess club, at the movie theater, birthday parties, Nana’s house, friend’s houses, church, and numerous other places. He is getting enough practice. I think home and school should be the two places he can go to relax, learn and enjoy life - free from the danger and fear of his food allergies. Give the kid a break!
School classrooms are a place to learn, a place where children of any race, gender, religion or physical/emotional impairment should be treated fairly and allowed to participate in ALL activities. Schools should be inclusive and safe environments. They should NOT be makeshift kitchens.
Dr. Christakis and Dr. Robinson I am officially sending you both to The Island and your jobs are... Nicholas you are a port-a-potty sanitizer because I think you still just don’t get it. David you are a second grade teacher, so maybe you will have the time it takes to observe multiple days in the life of a young food allergic student. You might possibly then begin to see the multiple issues of stress and segregation food allergic students feel continually.