FeaturesDec/Jan 2013 Issue

Food-Allergy Bullying

Positive Signs

Eleanor Garrow didn’t stick around Virginia. After Thomas’ bullying in 2nd grade and depression aftermath in the beginning of 3rd grade, Garrow and her two children moved back to Illinois, where she grew up and where her family lives. Divorced, she realized that Thomas needed his father during this unsettling time. She asked to be able to work for FAAN remotely from Illinois.

Now in 4th grade at his new school, Thomas is doing well, his mother reports. The new school has gone above and beyond in accommodating him, she says. Everyone who comes into contact with Thomas throughout the school day, including his bus driver, has been trained to administer epinephrine. His grades have come back up. He’d been getting Cs and Ds but now is back to As and Bs.

Thomas is no longer ashamed to say he has food allergies. He always carries his life-saving medications—epinephrine auto injectors, antihistamines and his asthma inhaler—in his backpack. At his new school, kids kept asking him why he carries his backpack everywhere. So he asked his mom to do a presentation about food allergies, not just to his class but to the whole school. Garrow is thrilled that he’s no longer embarrassed and anxious about his food allergies.

“I’m hopeful and optimistic,” she says. “We still have a long way to go but I’ve definitely seen improvement. There’s still some anger but it’s nowhere near as bad as it was when we were in Virginia.”

“For almost a year and a half, he was not the son I knew, the boy who was so full of life, laughing, giggling, eyes sparkling all the time, compassionate and caring about everyone around him. We really lost him. And it was hard, so hard,” Garrow says. “Now we’re finally getting him back—and I’m so grateful.”

Bullying Stats

Chicago-based health writer Eve Becker is author of glutenfreenosh.com. Her youngest daughter has celiac disease.

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