This teacher planned a special party for a 5-year-old child with severe food allergies.
If you or someone close to you has food allergies, then you know what a struggle it can be. Every school lunch, birthday, or holiday is a new challenge to stay healthy and avoid the things that can cause a reaction. That’s why one teacher’s extraordinary gesture towards a child with severe food allergies is getting so much attention.
Mom Shannon Miskimen recently penned an essay for The Mighty about a special allergy-friendly party a teacher threw for her five-year-old son, Cayden. According to Miskimen, Cayden has a rare disorder called Food Protein Induced Enterocolitis Syndrome (FPIES). The disorder causes multiple food allergies — so far, they’re aware of twelve foods to which Cayden is allergic. Even scarier, he can become allergic to any food he’s never tried and there are no tests to determine how he’ll react to something. Writes Miskimen, the only test is “feeding him something new and seeing if he gets sick.”
In order to keep Cayden safe, Miskimen closely monitors every single thing he eats.”I’ve become accustomed to sending every single meal, snack and dessert for him to school,” she writes. Whenever there’s a birthday party, she even sends “a treat box so he can have something special” just like the other kids. She was prepared to do the same for his most recent class party, but instead, his teacher gave her and her son and extraordinary gift: she planned a “Cayden party” featuring only foods and drinks that Cayden could safely eat. Miskimen shared an email from the teacher that reads:
“I wanted a party for Cayden where everything is Cayden friendly. Mrs. Sheats and I are going to go out and buy Mott’s 100% apple juice original, Lucky Charms, Armour Vienna Sausage original, sugar free jello strawberry cups, and classic Lays potato chips (yellow bag). I would like for a day where Cayden won’t have to worry about what other people have and where he can have everything. If you see something that would not work please let me know!! I tried to go by what you brought to class for him and what was on the list of approved foods. You are more than welcome to pop by tomorrow or Friday or both to ensure that everything we have is approved!!”
Since Miskimen wrote about this teacher, her story has been shared widely online, not only because it’s so heartwarming, but also because it raises awareness about kids with food allergies and how often they’re excluded from “normal” childhood events. Food allergies are a serious issue — the CDC reports food allergies are responsible for 300,000 ambulatory care visits by kids under 18 every year — and yet people can still be stunningly unsympathetic. They don’t want to give up their peanut butter or slightly alter their birthday party plans, and kids like Cayden end up excluded and isolated as a result.
What this teacher did was incredible. She made Cayden feel included and special, gave his mom a break from having to worry about every little thing in his immediate vicinity, and helped show every other kid in his class the importance of being compassionate and going out of your way to make sure everyone gets to be a part of the fun. Hopefully her amazing gesture will encourage many others to do the same. Food allergies shouldn’t keep a kid from being able to make amazing childhood memories.