Living with Food Allergies : Travel

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Traveling around the world is one of my favorite things to do! Arizona took her first flight when she was 2 months old and we haven’t stopped since. Because of her insane amount of food allergies, however, traveling takes a lot of preparation and planning.

Here are my top 5 tips for traveling with a kid who suffers from food allergies :

  1. Bring a Doctor’s Note! Usually, airport security will let you through with a bottle or small container of milk (rice, almond, whole grain, soy or otherwise) for your infant.  However, as I learned the hard way, the cut off age for this is usually 2 years old.  Arizona had just turned 3 years old when we were traveling to Montreal, Quebec.  We brought some individual box drinks of rice milk, but were not allowed through security because our daughter was over 2 (and therefore, no longer an infant).  We learned that a doctor’s note stating her allergies (to dairy, in this case) would have helped.  I’ve been traveling with one ever since.
  2. Get a Kitchen. We make sure we have a kitchen wherever we travel.  This usually means renting a condo, apartment or house as opposed to booking a standard hotel room.  This can often times be more cost effective than a hotel.  For example, we booked a 3 bedroom house (with a private pool + yard + daily cleaning service) in Costa Rica for $120 / night.  Having a kitchen is necessary (and stress relieving) when you have allergies in the family.  Check out my favorite site vrbo.com for fun options.
  3. Send a Shopping List.  If you’re visiting family or friends, send a shopping list ahead of time. You will have food items in stock when you arrive and can avoid spending the first day of your vacation grocery shopping. Easy!
  4. Bring or Ship as much Food as you can! In our case, we always travel with Arizona’s favorite gluten free / dairy free / nut free / soy free snacks.  We even put big cartons of oat or rice milk in our suitcase and pray they don’t explode (they did once, on our way to Grand Cayman).  But, it’s easy to travel with pre-packaged goods : rice pasta, rice, quinoa, etc. (Hint : putting them in Tupperware helps tremendously).
  5. Research your Area. This may mean checking out the grocery stores (and their offerings), doctor’s offices and medical centers in the area ahead of time.  We once had to cancel a trip near the border of Panama because we realized the closest hospital (in case of medical emergency) was a 2 hour helicopter flight away from our lodging.

At the end of the day, food allergies shouldn’t restrict your travel completely!  It may be a bump in the road, but just a little one.

* This is the first in a series of “Living with Food Allergies.”  More topics coming soon!

Our Special Kids

 

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When Arizona was 2.5 years old, we took her to see a developmental pediatrician due to some concerns we had about her development. 6 years later, I’m reflecting on the ride we’ve been on, including all the information I’ve collected along the way.

Luckily for me, Los Angeles is a crazy hub of resources and help for kiddos with special needs. Unluckily for me, and parents like me, it can be somewhat of an art to figure out exactly where to go for help, knowing WHAT to ask for and trying to wrap your head around what your child really needs.

One important thing to note is that having a developmental delay when you’re young does not always mean it will be a lifelong affliction. Early intervention is key. If you have any concerns about your child’s development, no matter how small, get it looked at while they’re young.

Where to start?

  1. Call your local regional center for free assessment and diagnosis. Every state should have a department of developmental services that lists the regional centers in your area. California resources are listed here : http://www.dds.ca.gov/DDSHomePage.cfm
  2. Tell your pediatrician that you have concerns about your child’s development. Even if they don’t agree with you (this happens more often than you think!), insist upon a referral to a child development specialist and take it from there.

In the future, I’ll have additional blog posts on specific information I’ve gathered along the way. There are a lot of us in this together and the process doesn’t have to be so isolating and overwhelming. I welcome your hints & tips as well!

A New Year – 2015

At the beginning of each year, I set an intention for the upcoming 12 months. I usually end up with a long list of things I want to do better or different ways I want to be better. It can be daunting, to look at this list of New Year’s resolutions come February and realize I haven’t done much of anything differently.

As a special needs parent, I have experienced my child go through so many assessments and testings. Generally speaking, the focus is usually figuring out what your child can’t do and then measuring future accomplishments based on those “deficits.”

I have often found this way of testing to be depressing and frustrating. I don’t want to hear what my child “can’t do” compared to her peers. I want to hear all of the amazing things that my child can do right now!

In like manner, I have set a similar standard for myself with my “must be / do better lists.” I will celebrate all of my accomplishments, big and small. I will acknowledge the ways that I have transformed into a NEW me. I have declared 2015 to be the Year of Me.

“It’s a new dawn, a new day, a new life and I’m feeling good.” – Nina SimoneFullSizeRender[3]