Moms are often front and center when it comes to their child’s food allergies.
What about dads?
Four years ago in Austin, Texas, the community group Austin Families with Food Allergies (AFFA) hosted a fathers-only dinner retreat at a local pizza restaurant, providing an opportunity for dads to learn more about food allergies. Allen Lieberman, MD, AFFA’s physician advisor and an Anaphylaxis Community Experts (ACE) volunteer, sponsored the retreat and led the group discussion.
“I don’t always get to meet the fathers, because many times the mom is the parent who brings the child to the doctor’s appointment,” Dr. Lieberman says. “This is a great opportunity for me to get to know the entire family.”
It was so engaging and informative that it became an annual event. Participation grew from six dads in 2011 to 18 this year.
This year’s dinner was held in February. Dr. Lieberman provided an overview of anaphylaxis and the latest food allergy research and trends. He handed out ACE anaphylaxis educational resources.
The dads discussed their children’s food allergies and the challenges their families face managing the condition. They talked about ways to teach children to self-manage – to “take ownership of their food allergies,” as one dad put it. And they offered each other advice and support.
Cary Laudadio, administrator of a Facebook page for the AFFA Dads group and the father of 6-year-old Traver who has asthma and food allergies, said he felt encouraged listening to other dads talk about their family’s food allergy experiences.
“I realized for the first time my family wasn’t alone with our diagnosis and our concerns,” he says. “I felt much better knowing there was a community I could connect with and learn from.”
Laudadio praised Dr. Lieberman, saying: “The very best doctors wear multiple hats – they help the community, raise awareness and work with school officials – and Dr. Lieberman is one of those physicians. He’s a great advocate for Austin families with asthma and food allergies.”
The dads also discussed meeting more often – every three months instead of once a year.
Dr. Lieberman is all for it.
“I will speak about anaphylaxis education with anyone, at any time,” he says. “It’s essential that we have conversations and take the necessary steps to support children with life-threatening allergies.”
Visit AFFA’s Facebook page at www.facebook.com/AustinFamiliesWithFoodAllergies.
Written by Brenda Silvia-Torma, MEd, ACE Program Manager
Anaphylaxis Community Experts (ACE) is a national, award-winning education, advocacy and outreach program developed and hosted by Allergy & Asthma Network in partnership with the American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology, sponsored by Mylan Specialty L.P.
ACE volunteer teams across the country offer free awareness and training programs about food, latex and venom allergies, signs and symptoms of anaphylaxis, and how to use an epinephrine auto-injector. Teams include allergists, school nurses, community members and parents.