Mom of Nut-Allergic Teens Asks School to Remove Oak Trees

Hi Readers — Here’s a story getting a lot of attention, for what I think are good reasons. As reported in today’s Toronto Star:

A York Region mother is fighting to have oak trees removed near her child’s school, fearing that acorns could pose a deadly threat to students with severe allergies.

Donna Giustizia said the young trees on property owned by the City of Vaughan next to the St. Stephen Catholic Elementary School are littering the area with acorns. The school, meanwhile, is nut-free to protect students with potentially life-threatening anaphylactic allergies.

“A false sense of security is putting a sign on the door that says nut-free and there’s nuts all over the place,” said Giustizia, who has two teenage children with anaphylactic food allergies, one of whom attends St. Stephen.

“I’m not a crazy mom, I’m not asking for anything that’s not already there.”

I agree the mom isn’t crazy. But she also isn’t thinking straight. If she thinks the school should chop down all its trees, does she think the whole country should chop down its trees? Because it’s hard to believe that the only acorns her kids will ever encounter are those on school property.

It must be very scary to have children who are severely allergic. It is made scarier by the belief that the only way they can be safe is for their parents to personally hunt for and remove every possible trigger the kids could ever encounter. That’s impossible. No parent can create perfection, though it is this generation’s curse to try.

The truth is: We cannot child-proof the world, so it is our job to world-proof our children. Teach them how to be safe, prepare them for the path ahead, say  a prayer and send them forth. – L.

Big lawsuits from little acorns grow.

110 Responses to Mom of Nut-Allergic Teens Asks School to Remove Oak Trees

  1. JM November 13, 2012 at 7:45 pm #

    And possibly… just possibly… teach your teenagers to not pick up acorns? Just a thought…

  2. backroadsem November 13, 2012 at 7:48 pm #

    I’m trying to see things from this mother’s perspective: are her children so allergic they can’t be in the area of a nut? Or they just can’t eat/touch them?

    But even so, this is ridiculous. Those kids are going to have to find better coping strategies than demand the world-wide removal of nuts.

  3. Carrie November 13, 2012 at 7:52 pm #

    Talk about being a nut herself! How is she going to protect her children from every possible nut trigger in the world? Here is a thought, how about teach your kids NOT to pick up the nuts in the first place? Problem solved.

  4. Julia H November 13, 2012 at 7:53 pm #

    I heard on the news here that she was worried that children with allergies may be targeted by bullies who may shove the acorns into the mouth of those with allergies. So then the issue is no longer the allergy but the bully epidemic.

  5. Beth November 13, 2012 at 7:54 pm #

    Acorns are not tree nuts….

  6. North of 49 November 13, 2012 at 7:54 pm #

    As someone who went to school in the 80’s before all the “peanut free schools” happened and who had severe allergies….

    Lady… get an epipen for your kid. Get three or more. Teach the staff how to use it. Make sure your kid carries one. Fill out the forms that your kid needs. Or better yet, get your child allergy shots to desensitize them if the reaction is that severe. You can not prevent your child from coming into contact with all sorts of nut allergens. In fact, teaching them to be aware of the dangers around them, without making them scared to death of it all, is your duty as a mom.

    Forcing others to comply with your precious little baby’s allergies and bend over backwards to accommodate them is just stupid. You can’t stop 300 or so parents from sending their kids to school with peanut butter sandwiches – they might be too poor to afford anything else.

    What is going to happen at his first job interview? Is he going to say to his boss “sorry, can’t be hired by you cause you won’t take into account my allergy”? Nope. He is going to have to make accommodations in order to work.

    You can’t keep your child in a bubble and you can’t bubble wrap the world to protect your child. The best you can do is to teach them what to watch out for, what they need to do if the worse happens, and how to get help when it does.

    No tree should ever be cut down. Move your kid to a different school!

  7. Sarah in WA November 13, 2012 at 7:54 pm #

    I’ve been afraid of something like this happening. Nut allergies are very real and dangerous, but even so we can’t eliminate nuts from the world. I agree that these children need to learn how to survive in reality, where nuts exist.

    Really, the school should not claim to be “nut-free.” Yes, they can ban nuts from being brought to the school, but they cannot promise that nuts will not pop up anywhere. This is virtually impossible. So, saying “nut-free” does give a false sense of security. They should withdraw that claim and warn parents that the kids need to take precautions.

  8. North of 49 November 13, 2012 at 7:55 pm #

    Shoving an allergen down an allergic person’s mouth is not bullying. That is attempted murder and should be treated as such.

  9. lora November 13, 2012 at 8:02 pm #

    Did this mom spend even 5 seconds on a Google search?

    http://www.aaaai.org/ask-the-expert/Safety-of-exposure-to-acorns-in-tree-nut-allergic-.aspx

    “Both acorns and chestnuts are a member of the plant family called Fagaceae. This family is different from those of tree nuts (almond, walnut, hickory, pecan, cashew). The substances that produce allergy in acorns and chestnuts are therefore different than those that produce allergy to the other tree nuts. To my knowledge, there is no risk of a patient with nut allergy having a reaction to contact with acorns or with leaves of any sort. ”

    http://www.schoolhealthservicesny.com/uploads/Acorns%20Pinecones.pdf

    “Based on consultations with my peers,
    we comfortably recommend that people with a nut allergy should be able to have contact with acorns or pine
    cones without risk of an allergic reaction.”

  10. linvo November 13, 2012 at 8:03 pm #

    Err.. Couldn’t the bully just take a few peanuts from home to school and use that in his murder attempt? Will they demand that all the students’ homes are raided too to make sure they don’t have access to any nuts anywhere ever?

    And note that the article says the trees are “near” the school.

  11. Kelly November 13, 2012 at 8:05 pm #

    Honestly shoving an acorn down anyone’s throat could cause someone to choke and should be taken very seriously. People need to teach kids appropriate behavior and the consequences of what can happen when you goof off in an inappropriate way.

    Cutting down the nut trees is just silly, if it’s really about bullying then there are way different issues.

  12. steve November 13, 2012 at 8:05 pm #

    You may not think she’s crazy.

    I do.

  13. Jessika November 13, 2012 at 8:11 pm #

    She needs some significant education, starting with the botany of tree nuts before quickly moving on to immunology and allergic reactions as a whole. Then she’d realise she’s nuts (pun intended!).

  14. Greg November 13, 2012 at 8:20 pm #

    I’ll echo the “acorns aren’t tree nuts” sentiment, and ask the mom to provide some evidence (in the literature or elsewhere) that the handling of acorns has ever posed a risk of allergic reaction to children.

    And, Kelly, I don’t think anyone was seriously suggesting that there has been schoolyard acorn-related bullying. I think Dr. Keith was just responding to a hypothetical question from the reporter. In fact, I doubt Dr. Keith himself has even considered acorns in any capacity.

  15. Paula November 13, 2012 at 8:23 pm #

    I am the parent of a child with severe tree nut allergies. Some parents of children with food allergies are totally bonkers, they really do a disservice to allergic children by making it seem as though most cases of severe food allergies are exaggerated. I really wish they would educate themselves further before engaging in nonsense like Giustizia did.

  16. Kent November 13, 2012 at 8:27 pm #

    So, you can’t send a child to this school with a PBJ?

  17. Yan Seiner November 13, 2012 at 8:30 pm #

    When I was in the military, we were taught to never even create the appearance of a conflict of interest. So, for example, since I worked with contractors, wearing any kind of promotional clothing with a construction related logo was a no no. A Freightliner ballcap? Forget it.

    Fast forward to today…. Apparently it’s not enough to actually get rid of nuts, we have to get rid of anything with the appearance of a nut. We’re talking peanut allergy, not “something that has the vague appearance of a nut” allergy.

    I’m allergic to bees, not badly, but badly enough. Should I petition the city to get rid of all flying insects? Or all insects in general, since they look sort of like bees, and “you never know”?

    I am allergic to tree pollen, quite badly, so badly that I can get pneumonia and die if I don’t have access to antibiotics. (I’ll leave out the gruesome details of how nasal congestion becomes pneumonia. Not pretty.) Should I require that all trees where I live be cut down?

    Come to think of it, this whole thing falls under the “Better go way overboard, because you just never know” worst first thinking.

  18. Yan Seiner November 13, 2012 at 8:35 pm #

    @Paula: Thank you. Well said.

  19. Paula November 13, 2012 at 8:36 pm #

    This is the dangerous territory we are moving toward with childhood allergies. Instead of educating children, and making them responsible for their environment, parents want to sanitize the entire environment, and the county, and the city on the offchance that their child sticks something they shouldn’t in their mouth.

  20. Amanda Matthews November 13, 2012 at 8:39 pm #

    “Because it’s hard to believe that the only acorns her kids will ever encounter are those on school property.”

    Not really, since there’s plenty of kids that go nowhere but school and home. So if there’s no trees between their car and their front door…

    If bullies are actually shoving things into other kids’ mouths, allergic or not, the school has bigger issues than whither or not there are trees nearby…

  21. Stephanie November 13, 2012 at 8:54 pm #

    My 3-year-old is severely allergic to sesame seeds, which unfortunately, is not a nut, so even though her daycare is nut-free, this doesn’t apply to sesame seeds. Anyway, she knows what she can eat (no hummus!), and her teachers have all been told to keep watch. However, I’m realistic. I know someday she will ingest some sesame seeds (they’re tiny little buggers!) or eat some Chinese food that has sesame oil in it. As long as she has an epipen with her, or someone who can call 911, she’ll be okay. It’s scary, but we can’t control everything. Neither can this woman. Goodness.

  22. Brenna November 13, 2012 at 9:12 pm #

    My daughter is also allergic to nuts, and it has not once occurred to me to insist that her school go “nut-free”. As someone pointed out, in many cases and PB&J may be all another kid can afford. Or in the case of my own nephew, the only thing he’s willing to eat (he’s a stubborn little bugger!). I have, however, taught my daughter, from a very early age, what a peanut looks like. I’ve taught her to ask before she eats anything. Now that she can read she knows where on the label to look for allergy information (she’s six). The world contains nuts. My philosophy is to take that info and deal with it.

  23. Jenny Islander November 13, 2012 at 9:12 pm #

    1. As other have pointed out, anaphylactic allergy to tree nuts does not include anaphylactic allergy to acorns. It’s entirely possible that somebody out there has an anaphylactic allergy to acorns, which are a foodstuff in some parts of the world, but the two are not conjoined.

    2. By the teenage years, it’s important to teach the allergic child to keep him- or herself safe! Even if the parents can manage to totally eliminate the allergen from the children’s current environment, are they going to stay only in one neighborhood for the rest of their lives?

    If this student’s allergy to tree nuts is very severe, perhaps it’s time to contact an organization that trains assistance dogs to alert to the presence of an allergen. I recall a case of a child whose peanut allergy was so horrific that she could get a hand-shaped red rash on her back, right through her clothes, if her father hugged her at 3:00 after having shaken the hand of a colleague who had eaten a PBJ at noon. It’s impossible to keep even one school building free of one foodstuff to that level. Her assistance dog goes ahead of her, sniffs at every doorway, and alerts her if the classroom isn’t safe. She can attend school, her classmates’ parents just have to remember not to pack PBJs in their lunches, and nobody is quizzing them at the door–“Did you have Moose Tracks ice cream for dessert last night? How long did you brush your teeth for? Not long enough–you can’t come in!”

  24. Jenne November 13, 2012 at 9:14 pm #

    Ummm (raising hand in the back of the room) . . .

    How many incidents have occurred with said trees in the past ____ years?

    (crickets)

    Thank you.

    (Honestly! Because something MIGHT happen?!?!)

  25. mollie November 13, 2012 at 9:16 pm #

    Is this news because the school is actually considering acting on her request and cutting down the trees, or is it news because it’s such a preposterous request in the first place? Hoping for the latter.

    This woman’s fantasy that a fellow student at the school will attempt to bring on anaphylaxis in a fellow student in any manner is definitely the kind of “If I can dream it up, then it might actually happen, and it if might happen, I must take all possible steps to prevent it” sh*t that tells me she has very little in the way of a trust in a higher power or any kind of spiritual practice, quite tragic, actually, especially because she is the mother of children who must operate with the spectre of death more closely shadowing them than most.

    What children with anaphylactic allergies need is information, epi-pens (as someone already noted), and communication skills… and a whole lot of trust that while they’re making their best effort to remain healthy, that’s all they can reasonably do… the rest is out of their hands.

    I know. It’s just not going to register with this mum that certain things are “out of her hands,” she clearly believes that what is hers to do is to take everything, even the threats that are not threats (nuts are not all created equal), into her own hands and effect influence, with zero trust that her children will survive without her intervention.

    I remember the day my son was diagnosed with an anaphylactic allergy to cashew nuts. First, I felt enormous regret for all the times I misunderstood his tantrums and vomiting. Then, I felt enormous fear of all the ways cashews might enter our lives without our realizing it, and that I’d need to step up my vigilance. Next, I felt a strange sense of “comeuppance,” since I had maligned what I felt were “hysterical” people with purported food allergies… and now, here was my son, and he couldn’t go anywhere without an epi-pen! Oh, the irony of it all. And eventually, what came up for me was acceptance. This simply is. And we do what we can reasonably do, and my son understands what he’s allergic to, and that ultimately, it’s up to him to live in a way that is healthy.

    Canada-wide, there are precious few deaths of children from anaphylaxis, probably commensurate with those deaths from stereotypical stranger abduction/murder. I think it was this, most of all, that finally struck me. Yes, any death of a child is tragic. But even when your child has a bona fide risk of death if he ingests the wrong enzyme, he’s still pretty likely, statistically, to survive. Sure, anaphylaxis can lead to other complications, brain damage, etc. Again, the stats are that this is rarer than we’re all lead to believe. It’s sensationalized.

    In the nearly ten years since my son’s diagnosis, I have never administered an epi-pen on him. His father did, once, and I wasn’t there. There was no clear connection to cashew nuts ever established. I’ll never know if he was “saved” by the epi-pen, or if his very nervous dad stabbed him with it because he was terrified something terrible was happening, and it may not have been anaphylaxis. Who knows. Who cares? The kid is alive, and well, for today.

    And that’s all any of us have.

    Your anaphylactic kid is far more likely to die in a car wreck, lady. Stop driving them anywhere before you cut down the trees!

  26. Alicia November 13, 2012 at 9:19 pm #

    Agreeing with Paula. It is unfortunate that some parents do these things as it makes it much more difficult for other allergic kids. Please don’t think all allergic kids’ parents are like this. We’re not. It also reminds me of the parents in a Florida school that wanted all kids to rinse out their mouth after lunch.

  27. Emily November 13, 2012 at 9:19 pm #

    The word that jumps out at me the most here is “teens.” Teenagers are almost adults. They should have enough common sense to avoid things they’re allergic to, because they should have been taught that when they were younger. So, I agree with Lenore–don’t child-proof the world, world-proof your children instead. The fact that acorns are non-allergenic makes it moot THIS time, but I’d be saying the same thing if the trees in question were, say, walnut trees that were allergenic. You either teach your kid to avoid (or manage themselves around) the danger, or you find a different school.

  28. Chihiro November 13, 2012 at 9:23 pm #

    Um, didn’t the article say she has two TEENAGERS?
    I’m pretty sure I knew not to pick random things up off the ground and put them in my mouth by the time I was a teenager…actually, I’m pretty sure I knew not to do that when I was two.
    On a side note, while acorns are actually nuts, they are in a different family than tree nuts, such as almonds and walnuts. The allergens produced in tree nuts (which is what most people are allergic to) are different than the ones in acorns. The only way a kid could suffer ANY sort of allergic reaction from the acorns is if they ingested them.
    SOURCE: http://www.aaaai.org/ask-the-expert/Safety-of-exposure-to-acorns-in-tree-nut-allergic-.aspx
    Also, I learned what anaphylactic meant today, so it was a good day!

  29. Laura November 13, 2012 at 9:23 pm #

    Acorns, like chestnuts, aren’t in the same family as peanuts or other tree nuts like walnuts. Chances are that they’re not allergic to them. Removing the oak trees because she fears children may be allergic is simply ridiculous.
    Parents should be teaching their children how to deal with the world and their allergies and not trying to remove every possible allergen from the world.
    And yes, she is crazy.

  30. AW13 November 13, 2012 at 10:01 pm #

    I had a student with a severe peanut allergy. She was a sophomore in high school. She carried an epi-pen. We were asked to request that our students not bring peanuty foods into our classrooms. But: occasionally, a kid would slip up, and bring in their Reese’s peanut butter cups as a snack. Or peanut butter crackers. If it was the class she was in, she just maintained a safe distance from the offending nut. (If it wasn’t a class that she was in, I wiped off the peanuty desks and went on with the day.) She never had to use her epi-pen, as far as I know, and even if she had, it was clearly stated in her notes that *she* was supposed to administer it, and the onus was on *her* to avoid situations that would trigger her allergies. We helped facilitate that, but it was ultimately up to her. Honestly, I had a student with type 1 Diabetes, and I was always more worried that she might have an insulin reaction than about the kiddo with the peanut allergy (though the one with diabetes was very self-sufficient, too). But again, they were 15! I’d assumed that this was EXPECTED of teenagers.

    This woman’s kids must be terribly embarrassed.

  31. Gina November 13, 2012 at 10:09 pm #

    I am a teacher and also a parent of a food-allergic adult child, two adults kids with ADHD and one with Asperger’s Syndrome. As such, I would like to repost my comment on the NO RUNNING story.

    The world has lost its collective mind.

    I believe that SOME (NOT NOT NOT all) parents enjoy the attention of having a child with “special” requirements. This is particularly true of parents whose kids have been diagnosed with the “disease of the week”. Food allergies and Asperger’s seem to be the new ADHD. My children have been raised to be responsible for their behavior…they do NOT expect accommodations, rather, they accommodate THEMSELVES to the world around them.

    This woman needs to get a hobby and let her TEEN deal with whatever allergies he has. Unless he has a death wish, he isn’t going to pick up or taste something he knows he’s allergic to.

    Sheesh!

  32. Reader November 13, 2012 at 10:21 pm #

    What really gets me is that these are TEENAGE children.

    I’m sure I’ve told this story in the comments before, but it bears repeating: when I was 11, I made it into a selective class for “gifted” children. On the first day, the teacher announced that there was a girl who was severely allergic to nuts, but we would NOT be banning all nuts, as at our age we should be able to deal with it and understand about not sharing lunches etc.

  33. Paula November 13, 2012 at 10:29 pm #

    One very important point regarding teens and food allergies is that mortality rates are relatively high in that demographic. By the time food allergic children are teens they must themselves be well informed and responsible for their allergy, that is the most important weapon against disaster. Having a poorly informed mom trying to allergy-proof the world is not a good way to teach a teen how to manage their life-long reality, it’s a tragedy waiting to happen.

  34. Jill November 13, 2012 at 11:08 pm #

    On our town square, a child fell into a holly hedge and was cut up fairly badly by the holly leaves (according to all accounts). A well-meaning woman led the successful campaign to have all of the mature holly hedges removed at taxpayer expense and discarded (although no other children had EVER fallen into the holly hedges). While my sympathies went out to the injured child, I couldn’t help but wonder, what next? Nerf sidewalks? [And lest you think I have not walked a similar road, my then 9-year old daughter fell off monkey bars at a campground (because she let go at the wrong time) and broke off both of her front permanent teeth (thankfully she didn’t land on her nose and smash her entire face in). $3,200 later for veneers and a root canal plus the fact that her front teeth will always be at risk for some health/expense issue, my husband and I blamed… nobody! We didn’t report it to the campground owners, demand they remove the “dangerous” equipment or pay for the dental work, nor did we blame the little girl who suggested the game of follow-the-leader that led to the accident. It was a sad accident and we accepted it as such.]

  35. Warren November 13, 2012 at 11:08 pm #

    I am ashamed to say this happening in the city I grew up in.

    That said, this mother should be told that if her children are that fragile, and or stupid…..then they should be home schooled, so as to not infringe on the rights of the other students.

  36. Marion November 13, 2012 at 11:09 pm #

    This is sheer insanity.

  37. Jill November 13, 2012 at 11:09 pm #

    Thanks, Lenore, for all you do!

  38. Metanoia November 13, 2012 at 11:10 pm #

    My father is severely allergic to all kinds of stuff (and I have a few allergies because of it as well), and the best thing is controlled small levels of exposure to build up resistance. The food allergies he has includes tomato, chocolate, nuts, chilli, milk, strawberry… its a long list, but instead of avoiding all of those things, he eats them in small quantities on a semi-regular basis. This means that instead of needing an epipen and ending up in hospital because of an accidental ingestion, he just feels a little ill, but is otherwise ok.

    He says his childhood was far worse before he started slowly exposing himself as an adult because his mother tried to keep him from any exposure then when he did accidentally come in contact with something he would have a huge life threatening reaction. This zero-tolerance zero-exposure concept is more dangerous in my opinion. I know with my own allergies that since I became an adult and haven’t been exposed to cats and horses as much (some of my more severe allergies), I get set right off by a small exposure to them and have to be much more careful that I was as a child when I had exposure every day to those animals.

    As teenagers they should certainly be able to manage their own allergies. I certainly could at a young age and knew when I was getting a reaction and what to do to minimise it.

  39. Melissa November 13, 2012 at 11:14 pm #

    Is she concerned that her teenagers will have an identity crisis and think they are a squirrel one day on the way to school? ( and yes, I am fully aware that acorns are not included in the tree nut allergy spectrum).

    Our elementary school does not forbid nuts. They have a nut free TABLE at lunch and anyone allergic eats at that table, and if others eat at that table they must have nut free lunches. The only classrooms that are nut free are those that have the nut allergic kids in them.

  40. Lollipoplover November 13, 2012 at 11:47 pm #

    “A false sense of security is putting a sign on the door that says nut-free and there’s nuts all over the place.”

    And you, Ms. Guiustiia, are one of them!

  41. Krista November 14, 2012 at 12:02 am #

    Metonia, you cannot deal with all allergies in that way. My friend’s son has a boy in their class that in anaphalactically allergic to milk. He cannot even be around it. This same friend has celiac disease, if she is in a room where someone is baking with a gluten-containing flour she gets seizures from inhaling the flour.

    Back to the story, by the time an allergic child is a teen s/he should be able to deal with their allergies. However, I’m okay with classes banning certain allergens based on age/severeness. A child in my son’s class has peanut and cashew allergies. These children are 4-5. The teacher has requested that we don’t bring these products to school or have the children eat them for breakfast and we parents happily comply. We love the sense of community we have with taking care of this child.

    However, the whole school is not nut-free, and the mother doesn’t expect it to be.

    Oh, and about the almighty epi-pen: when I worked at a public school we had a girl deathly allergic to bees. Her epi-pen would only give her 15 minutes and then she needed medical attention, hopefully with an ambulance involved. But she always did well and took the responsibility to carry her own epi-pen. She was 9.

  42. Gina November 14, 2012 at 12:32 am #

    @Lollipoplover: Let me be the first to say: ROFLMAO!!!!

  43. Donald November 14, 2012 at 12:44 am #

    This is another case of Childangerphobia.

    This anxiety is similar to Compulsive Obsessive Disorder. (OCD) A person with Childangerphobia will never feel the relief that their child is safe enough so they keep trying to make them safer. In the same way, a person with OCD may never feel their hands are clean so they keep washing them.

  44. Donna November 14, 2012 at 12:49 am #

    I know many people who have seriously allergic kids who don’t even bother to mention it unless necessary. Then there are people like this. I really think this is a result of a mental condition similar to Munchausen by Proxy Syndrome. They don’t make their children ill like in Munchausen cases – they don’t need to since the child has a legitimate issue – but they do relish in the attention and sympathy that they get for having a “special” child.

  45. Jessika November 14, 2012 at 2:05 am #

    @Metonia, you can’t treat allergies that way.If you have a diagnosed allergy, you should really stay away from the allergen unless you are undergoing treatment to diminish allergy, hypo-sensibilisation, in a doctor’s office.
    I underwent hypo-sensibilisation for a variety of allergens because I was so allergic it bordered on the totally ridiculous. It took several years, starting with a miniscule injection of an allergen. Always at the doctor’s office, always with an epipen close by. I am now far less allergic but still allergic. I just don’t need to have an epipen at hand at all times and I knew early on, at age 11, what foods to avoid. Educating yourself is an important part of it all. I sometimes think that people in my surrounding have more problems with my allergies than what I do myself. I still have issues with strawberries (among other things). Every summer people around me lament the fact that I can’t eat them and just how much I’m missing out on. The only thing I want to know when I eat what others cook/bake, even in restaurants, is the ingredients. Once I know, I, meaning ME, make the decision on what to order.

    I started limiting my diet since I might have a reaction to something or other. I didn’t do too well with almonds which is actually a fruit, not a nut. Someone said I should cut out coconuts since it does have the word “nut” in them. Queu the education. And queue the risk of limiting your diet unnecessarily. I finally learned to eat a more varied diet in the allergy section of the hospita. With staff at hand I didn’t have to worry until we had separated what I was allergic to and what I had worried over.

    People like this makes it more difficult to be allergic than need be. There are some theories that suggest that an environment devoid of allergens will not prevent allergies, rather the opposite (in a population).

    Anyway, acorns are not a nut (as said many times in the commentaries), neither are coconuts and chestnuts.

  46. Gina November 14, 2012 at 2:08 am #

    @Donna–could not agree more. That’s the point I was trying to make….

  47. CrazyCatLady November 14, 2012 at 2:31 am #

    Hopefully the school nurse will speak up in defense of the trees – I doubt the Lorax will show up.

    The acorns are not even on the school property, they are next to the property, on public property.

    And yes, if she is this scared she can do school at home for medical reasons and have teachers come to her home and teach her kids. Granted, that is a pretty poor option compared to real homeschooling or many of the online virtual schools available. (It is a poor option because they usually get one teacher – not the many like at a high school. And they still have to do lots on their own.)

  48. Bob Davis November 14, 2012 at 2:46 am #

    I don’t think anyone pointed out that peanuts are not true nuts, they are legumes. In some languages they are called “ground nuts” because they grow underground.

  49. dancing on thin ice November 14, 2012 at 2:55 am #

    Not much has changed since this topic was covered here 3 years ago. Then the city did cut down the trees over a worry of hickory nuts falling into a pool. Local news stories in that case never said that the child had a reaction to hickory nuts. And none gave whether the intolerance was merely a rash or life threatening.
    http://www.freerangekids.com/the-risk-of-avoiding-all-risk/

  50. Warren November 14, 2012 at 3:04 am #

    Okay, what about the fact that this woman heads the “allergy commitee”? An allergy commitee, really? The world is getting really screwed up.

    Those trees have been there longer than those kids have been alive, and should still be there when they graduate.
    Not only is woman out of her freakin’ mind, but she should be billed for all the wasted resources, this is going to cause.

    Another time, that studies, debates, reports, forums and commitees are going to be set up, because of an insane request. What is truly insane is that those in authority, are going to study, pay experts, discuss, and come to a solution.

    There is only one solution, and one only, tell this woman “THE TREES STAY. YOU DON’T LIKE IT, TOO BAD, YOU LUNATIC.”

  51. Library Diva November 14, 2012 at 4:17 am #

    I had a co-worker at my last job who had a peanut allergy. He was always very apologetic about it. When it was someone’s birthday and there were treats, he’d always sound a little embarassed to be asking if there were peanuts used in it. Once, he went out to lunch at a Mexican place with two of my other co-workers and decided to try a dish with mole sauce on it. Turns out the sauce has peanuts in it. My other co-worker told me later that he was apologizing all the way to the store to get Benadryl. Crazy allergy parents like this lady are the reason my co-worker was made to feel that way.

  52. Seamus November 14, 2012 at 4:20 am #

    Wow, I really love seeing all the empowered proactive parents here! I agree with all the comments; teach children to protect themselves.

    Let’s just think abou the costs to society by not doing this:
    – society may lose brilliant people who are not self sufficient enough to take care of themselves.
    – as these children become adults, they will like the fortitude, strength of will, and character to bring their great ideas to life
    – health care costs skyrocket because as adults, these children no longer have their mom to hold their hand and they make easily preventable mistakes.

    Think about the education system as it is. Budgets are being cut across the board. Do we really need to take more money out of the system to child proof the world? The reality is that the ‘teach a man to fish’ method is much more cost effective and productive.

    I hope all the ink in the press was to raise awareness and not lend credibility!

  53. df November 14, 2012 at 4:27 am #

    Lenore, this is one of the craziest things I have heard in a long time, even though we are all getting used to hyper-vigilance over allergies in our schools and suchlike. I can simply nod vigorously at your well chosen words.

  54. shannon November 14, 2012 at 5:45 am #

    According to the American Association of Allergy Asthma and Immunology acorns and chestnuts are from a different botanical family than tree nuts and therefor generally pose no threat.

    http://www.aaaai.org/ask-the-expert/Safety-of-exposure-to-acorns-in-tree-nut-allergic-.aspx

    Seems like the issue is one of education. Many parents of peanut allergic children are advised to avoid tree nuts not only because some, but by no means all, do develop an allergy to tree nuts, but most factories used to process peanuts also process tree nuts so there is a cross contamination issue.

  55. Moddy November 14, 2012 at 6:32 am #

    What bothers me most about this is that the fruiting tree is the female one, that is, the one that *doesn’t* produce pollen. What do you want to bet they replace these trees with male clones that pump more pollen into the air all season, until they rip those out too for fear of liability in allergy and asthma attacks.

  56. Arianne November 14, 2012 at 7:16 am #

    “We cannot child-proof the world, so it is our job to world-proof our children”–well said, Lenore!! Perfect.

  57. linvo November 14, 2012 at 7:31 am #

    Just a response to those commenting on the fact that teens should be able to manage their own allergies. Of course this is true, but it is not what this particular case is about. The woman never claimed that her kids would endanger themselves. She is only concerned about the risk of others forcing her kids to ingest acorns. So this is indeed not about the allergy as such but about a deep-rooted fear of extreme bullying. Not very different from a parent wanting to ban all lead pencils because someone could stab one into another kid’s eye…

  58. Donna November 14, 2012 at 7:47 am #

    @linvo – Read again. The comment about kids being forced to eat the acorns comes from a doctor interviewed for the article, not the woman advocating cutting down the trees. And he mentions it in an incredulous way – indicating that this is the ONLY way he sees the acorns being a problem – and not as if he really believes that this is a legitimate fear. The woman does mention bullying on an off-hand way, but that is clearly not her only problem with the acorns.

  59. catspaw73 November 14, 2012 at 10:09 am #

    This woman is crazy.
    I hate it when people don’t take allergies seriously (partly because of lunatics like this) and ignore them. Or my favs, “but eucalyptus oil is natural, so you can’t be allergic to it” as I turned blue as my lungs closed over, or “but it was just a little bit of fish in the pot of potatoes that I then mashed” (and that one was from my mum, a chef!).

    Peanut allergies are a funny thing, you can develop them at any age, they can be triggered by a peanut infected with a certain fungus. Allergies can also be triggered by wasp stings, chemo and some serious illnesses and drugs. And yes I do know people who developed allergies after eating fungus peanut and wasp stings.

  60. Lara November 14, 2012 at 12:07 pm #

    The parents of children with nut allergies need to talk with their allergists. They were talking about this on the local news just last night. They start with a microscopic amount of nuts eaten every so often (monitored by a doctor of course), I believe several times a day, and within so much time the kids are eating everything nuts.

  61. Meg November 14, 2012 at 12:29 pm #

    I used to be one of the people who believed the increasing prevalence of life-threatening food allergies was overstated, a sort of society-wide hysteria, and actually thought reports of kids who couldn’t even be in a school where someone somewhere had eaten something with peanut in it, were ridiculous.

    That was before I had kids with food allergies. Now I know. Not saying that her kids are or are not allergic to acorns…but if they are, that’s a problem, depending on how severely allergic they are.

    It’s true we can’t make the world a bubble (or at least, we hope it won’t come to that), but also true that something is harming people’s immune systems to a degree that if severe and deadly food allergies keep increasing in prevalence and sensitivity, pretty soon we as a species won’t be viable for survival any longer.

    I wish the amount of research and money going into coping mechanisms, could also go into finding out what exactly has been altering or otherwise damaging immune function, so we can stop manufacturing and using it.

  62. Meg November 14, 2012 at 12:29 pm #

    Unless it’s the GMOs, in which case, we may be well and truly, permanently screwed.

  63. Taradlion November 14, 2012 at 1:15 pm #

    My peanut and peanut butter loving kids attended a “nut free” preschool. In elementary school, they have nut free classrooms (where the children eat) in classes with nut allergic kids… some have moved to the “nut free table” (a table where nut allergic kids sit and their friends can sit if they have no nut products in their lunch. (This of course does not manage the kids with severe airborne sensitivity- but those kids are at risk even if classmates eat nuts before school). It was a minor inconvenience to pack my kids lunches, but I always tried to keep in mind that it was a far greater inconvenience to the families dealing with the food allergic kiddo. My kids are aware of their friends allergies (one peanut and one has celiac) and I involve them in making decisions about treats to share at school and menu planning for parties when their friends will be invited. The food allergic kids still ask (as they should) and my kids can tell them what foods are “safe” (I have also confirmed with their parents). I want them to be sensitive to others needs and remember, they can have a preferred treat/sandwich at another time (their friends can’t).

    That said, I feel very strongly that kids learn from an early age to manage their own allergies. To not assume they are “safe” and to be given a sense of control, especially as they get older. Each child needs to understand their own level of sensitivity and be able to make decisions about what to avoid in their environment. (They need to be “world proofed”).

    At the point where a mother is requesting (insisting) that a trees be removed from school, I would say a specific family with SEVERE airborne allergies to that particular tree, needs to find a more suitable school. Removing the trees for a HYPOTHETICAL allergy is insane. Arguing that claiming the school is “nut free” with the trees out front gives a false sense of security just moves the line for “false sense of security.” If they removed the tree, I wonder what would happen if a child brought in acorns for show and tell? What if a child walked to school stepping on and picking up acorns along the way (while eating a peanut butter sandwich as breakfast on the go)?

  64. Warren November 14, 2012 at 1:50 pm #

    Are there more food allergies now, or did they just not get diagnosed as such years ago? Who knows.

    This woman is no different than alot of parents with food allergy kids. A litttle more extreme, but no different. Too many of these parents expect the world to bend over and revamp all that they do to accomodate their kids.
    Traditional school trips over the years have been lost. Like the one to the major dairy near here, and the one to the major bakery near here.
    No the one or two kids with the allergy, don’t stay home, or in another class that day, the whole class doesn’t get to go.
    Now she wants to cut down trees. If my kids went to this school, we would be organizing a protest, where the kids sit around each tree, untill they had assurances the trees were safe. And I do mean, not going into class, just sit around the trees. While the parents, bombard the school, the city, and the board with everyform of pressure they can gather.

  65. Jules November 14, 2012 at 2:55 pm #

    Stories like this always remind me of something a former coworker once said to me: “I don’t get all this peanut table/peanut-free table business in school these days. When I was a kid, my parents said ‘You’re allergic to nuts. Don’t eat them.’ And guess what? I’m still here.”
    Mind you, this was at a restaurant that served all sorts of nut products. She just avoided them. These kids are going to have to go out into the world some day, and when they do, there isn’t going to be nut-free shopping, or a nut-free office, or any of that. I agree with all of the previous posters who stated that the best help a parent can be is to make their child aware of how to handle any situation.

    As far as the bullying with nuts thing goes, I heard the most ridiculous thing at a birthday party once. A mom of a 5-year-old was telling the rest of us that she had chosen NOT to tell anyone about her child’s nut allergy, and told the child to keep it a secret as well. Her reasoning? “If the other kids know about his allergy, they’ll be mad that he’s the reason they can’t bring peanuts into class. And they’ll throw peanut butter cups at him on the bus. I heard this happened to a little girl whose sister asked the other kids not to open their Halloween candy on the bus because of her allergy. I don’t want my son to be bullied with nuts.”
    Um, does that make any sense at all? Don’t tell anyone? So now your child has a risk of being accidentally exposed? And then if he gets sick, no one will know what’s wrong? SMH…

  66. Lollipoplover November 14, 2012 at 2:55 pm #

    “I am the Lorax. I speak for the trees. I speak for the trees for the trees have no tongues” -Dr. Suess

    You know what’s nice about trees near playgrounds? Shade. Trees also provide noise buffers to neighbors and a natural border for the school. It helps reduce the need for fences around schools, like they were prison yards. WHY anyone would want to cut them down is beyond reason.

    What this mother is doing is beyond Snow Plow parenting. She’s wants to bulldoze! Removing anything nut- related from ever entering the path of her children is creating this unrealistic bubble around her kids. How long does she expect the world to adapt to her kids instead of vice versa?

    She is so concerned for her kids…look at what she has just done, it’s all over the news. Everyone will know her kids as the ACORN kids. And their teenagers! They probably never even thought about puting nuts in their mouths- but now they know!

    Kids with things wrong with them just want to be like all of the other kids. They want to fit in. I tell my son (who had epilepsy) it’s like the video game Tetris. You will find your spot and fit in somewhere. Try to find out what you have in common with kids instead of what is different. You may have to make some adjustments, but trust me, there is something everyone can do. This works for him. He likes to be know for what he can do.

    What Acorn mom wants to do here is to level the field. Take out trees because they have the unfortunate trait of seeding with acorns. Well, what about my kids? You take away the shade, leaving them exposed to UV rays and are giving them skin cancer. Should I ban the sun from playgrounds because of my family history of Melanoma?

    Thanks Lenore for exposing more parenting lunacy!

  67. EricS November 14, 2012 at 4:17 pm #

    Mine is 6 years old, he’s allergic to nuts, not all, and we don’t know which ones. But since he was 3 we’ve taught him to avoid nuts. By the age of 4 he, tells us and others “no nuts”. He even stays away from one of his favorite desserts (chocolate cake), if there is any doubt there may be nuts in it (cross contamination). Point being, kids will only get an allergic reaction if ingested or touched. So why not just teach them to avoid nuts, including trees that have acorns that they MAY BE allergic too. Don’t understand why some parents just don’t use common sense. As Lenore wrote, “We cannot child-proof the world, so it is our job to world-proof our children.” Goes with the old chinese saying “Give a man a fish and he will eat for a day. Teach a man to fish and he will eat for a lifetime.” Teach your children how to keep themselves smart, which will keep themselves safe.

  68. DirtyHooker November 14, 2012 at 5:46 pm #

    ****that tells me she has very little in the way of a trust in a higher power or any kind of spiritual practice****

    Not necessarily. I’m an atheist. I don’t believe in God, but I do believe in math. The odds of acorns hurting this woman’s children are so small as to be insignificant. Even if acorns were the silent killer she seems to think they are, the answer isn’t to declare war on oak trees. It’s to teach her children to keep themselves safe.

  69. Emily November 14, 2012 at 6:39 pm #

    Well said, Lollipoplover. I bet the teenagers in question probably never said a word about having the trees removed, don’t object to them being there, and know to avoid the acorns if there’s any possibility that they COULD be allergic to them–and, it sounds as if they’re not. But, back to my main point, those teenagers must be SO EMBARRASSED that their mother would make a scene like that over having the oak trees removed because of their allergy, that they probably dread showing their faces at that school. I know I’d feel that way if I were in their shoes–not because of the allergy, but because of the crazy bulldozer mom, and the humiliation from being associated with her by virtue of sharing her DNA.

  70. Emma November 14, 2012 at 6:43 pm #

    I know that is seems over the top & ridiculous, but, for all we know the mother concerned may have a hidden mental illness which is leading her to either over-react; or she may have a learning difficulty and so fully understand (or be able to research) the difference between acorns & other nuts that are allergenic.

  71. Rowyn November 14, 2012 at 7:09 pm #

    This is in response to a lot of things.

    For one, I’ve had severe allergies all my life and I just knew to avoid things. I didn’t have a flip out “the world is trying to kill me” feeling until recently, and it’s been tough to get over the trauma of it.

    I ask at least twice if something has nuts in it and I state that I’m allergic… So to find that “oops” there are walnuts in something I’m eating AT A RESTAURANT was shocking and horrifying and made me pretty much lose trust in everything ever…

    But I know that it’s unreasonable. Still, the point is that some people really have no idea that allergies are a problem, and asking is often not enough. People will wait until you have the food in your mouth to say “Oh, and macadamia nuts.”

    So, a little paranoia is a good thing… but letting it rule your life is unreasonable. I’ve been doing that. It isn’t fun and it will eventually kill these kids just by stressing them out or giving them an eating disorder.

    Just teach them how to protect themselves.

    Also, I’m on the sublingual allergy drops. I see some people saying “And now he can eat all the nuts he wants!” …
    Don’t do that.

    This is to make the body less likely to react. That doesn’t mean it should be treated as an absolute cure unless the allergy was more like an intolerance to begin with. I’m sure it does make all the bad things go away for some people, but not all. False hope isn’t always so classy, eh?

  72. hineata November 14, 2012 at 7:26 pm #

    I wonder where this woman suddenly got this idea about acorns? By the look of the area in the pictures, surely there are more oak trees in this area, and her chidren must have been around them before.

    Along with some others, I do wonder if this is a case of a woman who has spent much too much time being involved in her children’s health issues. We do have to be involved when our kids are young, if they are sickly/allergenic etc, and obviously if they are special needs we might have to stay involved for life, but in this woman’s case, her teenagers should be handling their own allergies, except that if Canada is anything like NZ she probably has to be the one picking up epipens etc.

    There is a certain amount of attention to be gained if you have a sick child, and for some individuals this is probably hard to give up. I think it can also be hard to step back when your child’s ‘illness’ has take up a large portion of your time for a number of years. If this woman is head of an ‘allergy committee’ (what an interesting notion – at our schools there are no allergy committees, there is simply a statement saying ‘no peanuts’ if necessary) it is a reasonably safe bet that her kids’ allergy issues are something she gets at least part of her identity as a person from now – particulary given her current, insane, campaign.

    I went back to school myself over the last couple of years because my own little ‘sicky’ was finally getting through most of the school year without needing time off every fortnight or so, and suddenly my weeks were free- and, truthfully, a little empty. Rather like an empty-nester or a retiree, I had to find something else to do with myself. Ironically, this year she is again taking up copious amounts of time, now that she finally has a diagnosis, and we are becoming involved with the hospital, drips, wonderful nurses, great-looking young foreign doctors – the list is endless! We even get free flights to Auckland every few months, simply so the doctors up there can check her out….

    I could let her ‘illness’ take over my life. There is a certain pull to doing that – it takes up a lot of my time, after all, so why not make a ‘career’ out of it? What with ‘support groups’, fundraising, ‘awareness campaigns’ – why, there is probably enough to milk a lifetime’s worth of work, fun and the attention of others out of this sort of thing. However – yuck!

    My point is that I can sort of see where this woman is coming from. However, IMHO she needs to let go and find something else to do. Maybe become a Green Peacer, and look at saving trees?

    Far more useful, really, given global warming…..

  73. Maegan November 14, 2012 at 8:33 pm #

    Others have mentioned this, but basing your fears on something that might happen is dangerous and, in extreme cases, psychotic. I’m not about to claim that I’m immune to this thinking. But I do know that it isn’t mentally sound. If you spend your nights awake worrying about things that might happen to you or your children, cutting down some trees won’t help you. Plenty of people have been committed and undergone serious treatment for this type of thinking. We can’t allow it to become normal now.

  74. Katrina November 14, 2012 at 10:34 pm #

    it has been interesting to follow some of the kids I used to look after when they were in child care….the kids who had the severe nut allergy, and the reason why nothing could be had there….reason being if another kid ate peanut butter and then used the play ground or was just next to this child they would have a reaction….do these people never go on to high school (as most high schools don’t have bans on food) and uni and work? Do they stay at home living in a bubble or are these allergies grown out of or what?

  75. Maegan November 14, 2012 at 10:57 pm #

    DirtyHooker,
    Thank you for addressing the issue of religion and spirituality. Certainly, I don’t need to believe in a higher power to evaluate the world’s dangers in a rational way.

  76. mysticeye November 14, 2012 at 11:03 pm #

    1) Her kid isn’t the kid with an allergy, at least not in most news reports

    2) She flat out says she’s not worried about actual allergic reactions, she’s worried that acorns will cause anxiety in allergic kids OR be used to bully allergic kids

    3) Yes, she wants a nut free city (and yes, she’s the only nut I want gone!)

  77. Nancy November 15, 2012 at 12:10 am #

    So, in the medical literature, are there any DOCUMENTED cases of children dying or having major medical crises because they were in the same room as someone with a peanut? Because this honestly seems kind of far fetched that a kid can’t even be in the same classroom. I agree that if they’re that allergic, they should have a companion animal.

  78. Jennifer November 15, 2012 at 12:11 am #

    Couple of things:

    Yes, this woman is nuts (so to speak). You can’t remove nuts from the world and cutting down oak trees because of a food allergy is BEYOND ridiculous.

    I do have a severe peanut allergy (among other foods) and some of us DO react to the airborne particles. Any time you smell something it’s because tiny amounts of the substance have made their way to your nose. If I am within about 3 feet of someone eating peanuts or peanut butter, I will get a headache and a stomach ache. No, I won’t die, but I will feel quite terrible for a few hours. Yes, this has happened even when I haven’t seen the offending food.

    As for Katrina’s question about what “these people” do, the answer is that we spend our lives asking people to accommodate us. If I’m already sitting down to lunch and someone starts to eat pb near me I will ask them to scoot to the far end of the table. I pester people with questions about what is in the food at the potluck and I choose to go hungry if I’m not satisfied with the answers. I

    But these are skills I picked up along the way growing up in a time when there were not peanut bans. I’ve had to advocate for myself ever since I was a very small child and I’ve had to watch what I eat. My parents taught me to always ask and they taught me to never eat if there was any doubt.

    I think that beyond the preschool years, “nut free” schools do a disservice to the allergic kids. It gives everybody a false sense of security and sooner or later someone will slip up.

  79. Backroadsem November 15, 2012 at 12:30 am #

    So what I’m getting from this is she wants trees her children aren’t even allergic to chopped down.

  80. Steve November 15, 2012 at 1:54 am #

    I’m amazed at how ignorant people remain about allergies since we do have the internet — and you can discover for yourself how to eliminate them. Without going to doctors.

    Do a little research.

  81. Katie November 15, 2012 at 2:36 am #

    Its all this environmental destruction that is leading to all these allergies. Leave the poor trees and animals that live in them alone, dump your SUV, don’t drive your kids 2 blocks, and the world will be a much better place. And just teach your kid not to touch the acorns.

  82. Paula November 15, 2012 at 3:10 am #

    @Nancy- good question. You must ingest peanut protein to trigger an allergic reaction. A multitude of studies have shown no anaphylactic reactions from inhalation of peanut dust. Rashes, headache, vomiting all may occur, with the only potentially serious reaction being asthma.

    Also worth noting “highly refined” peanut oils do not contain peanut protein, and are safe for peanut-allergy sufferers. Cold-pressed peanut oil contains peanut protein, and must be avoided.

    http://www.peanut-institute.org/eating-well/allergy/peanut-oil-no-allergens.asp

  83. AW13 November 15, 2012 at 5:17 am #

    @Catspaw: Certain illnesses can trigger allergies, too. I had mono when I was 16, which can cause later allergic reactions to antibiotics. When I was in my early 20s, it became apparent (mainly through hives and a good amount of swelling) that I’m now allergic to two large classes of antibiotics.

  84. Donna November 15, 2012 at 5:47 am #

    @AW13 – Bizarre things can also cause allergies. My mother developed an anaphylactic allergy to all mammal meat in her 50s. It is believed that the allergy is a the result of a tick bite.

  85. baby-paramedic November 15, 2012 at 6:01 am #

    I was an allergy-kid, and now an allergy-adult. I carry four different medications with me (one being an epipen) to manage aforementioned allergies if I am exposed to them.
    Two of my allergies are airborne deathy ones. One is a deathy touch one. Then a few other ones that cause my skin to blister, I have scars from it.

    And I refuse to be held hostage by my allergies.

    I am greatful my parents taught me to manage my tendency to stop breathing. I am here today, every now and then I get a reaction, and usually self manage. Demanding people to change their habits to cater fof my allergies is unfair on them. The exception to this is my husband, no kisses for him if hes been eating a particular food!

  86. Warren November 15, 2012 at 7:55 am #

    Well it has made more newspapers, and yahoo news. They even quote Lenore.
    This woman needs some sense slapped into her. Here is her latest quote.
    “The problem is that people don’t understand a) that it’s a hidden disability and b) that in Ontario and in Canada there’s an ultimate duty to accommodate. People don’t understand that — they think it’s one crazy parent bubblewrapping their kid.”

    So as a resident of Ontario, I have an ultimate duty to accomodate her and her kids?
    Bull—-! I feel for those with special needs, be it allergy, or whatever. I do not feel the need to accomodate them. They need to learn to deal with their needs, and stop making the world responsible for them.

  87. Nicky November 15, 2012 at 9:46 am #

    I’d like to point out that everyone is allergic to acorns in their natural state they are poisonous. My husband has an anaphylactic allergy to oak trees, his allergist is the leading allergist in Ontario and has only seen 2 other cases of oak allergy at his severity. So far the 20 or so oak trees on our street have caused no problems.

    Also, schools have to make reasonable accommodations. This is not reasonable.

  88. Jenn November 15, 2012 at 12:33 pm #

    My 6 year old daughter is allergic to peanuts and tree nuts, severe but not anaphylactic but has the potential to become so with repeated exposure (and hormonal/immune system changes) so we do have Epi-pens as a precaution and avoid allergens. We don’t like the nut-free bans at our schools. In our own group of friends and their children we have the peanut/tree nut allergy, eggs (me), dairy/milk, wheat, soy, peas, strawberries, bananas, kiwi, seafood, fish, plus we have the typical dietary restrictions due to religion (Jewish, Hindu and Muslim), personal beliefs (vegetarians) and medical concerns (diabetes and celiac). Never have we had an issue with some eating a food they shouldn’t. We all take precautions with our own allergies, label our food, list ingredients, utensils stay with the dish it contacted (for serving or cooking) and children don’t eat food offered unless they ask, “Is this safe for me?” Somehow we have found a way for us to regularly share meals together that we can all enjoy. If we went to banning food food for the group because of one individual, we would be left with eating vegetables only. To expect a school of children to accomodate everyone’s allergies, has the potential to impact a community of children’s long term health because they are restricted from healthy food choices and forced only to eat pre-packaged food (so that labels can be read and be sure that food is `safe’).

  89. Warren November 15, 2012 at 2:39 pm #

    I understand and do sympathize with the allergy challenged, it is a difficult way to live.

    In our school, luckily not my kids class, there is a class with bans on nuts, gluten, eggs and dairy. For three of the 27 students. The parents of the students without the allergies, now have to accomodate these kids. One parent is a good friend and neighbour. According to her, lunches and snacks, for her son, that he will actually eat, now cost close to $30.00 more per week, to abide by the restrictions. Over a thousand dollars a year, extra. Now that family makes a good double income, and can afford it. But I know some families find the added cost, a real hardship.
    This is breeding resentment, as for some $120.00 a month, hurts.

  90. Suze November 15, 2012 at 3:21 pm #

    I haven’t been around for a few days so was happy to see that someone brought this story to Lenore’s attention.

    Like many above I do also sympathize with the allergy suffers. But I find it disconcerting that some of these parents “claim” their children have allergies to this and that but have NEVER had the child tested. Donna, way upthread mentioned the Munchausen’s Syndrome by Proxy …. which certainly could be true for some of these parents. I had a friend when I was growing up (long story short) who’s mother had her sick/allergic to everything under the sun and made a HUGE deal about it and I’m thoroughly convinced that this women suffered from Munchausen’s Syndrome by Proxy. My friend then went to an allergist out of town as an adult and he told her she was only allergic to two different things he test her for; took her off of wheat and dairy for a time and she has only had “sensitivities” to certain things after that.

    Like I said, as long as these kids have been tested and their is a certain measure of medical proof they have allergies, then I think its a lot of nonsense from insecure parents who need attention.

    So bullies are now going to target the kids allergic to oak trees? Well gee….. take your kid out of that school and put them in one with no oak trees around. Problem solved; whiney, ridiculous women :(

  91. Donna November 15, 2012 at 5:28 pm #

    “The problem is that people don’t understand a) that it’s a hidden disability and b) that in Ontario and in Canada there’s an ultimate duty to accommodate. People don’t understand that — they think it’s one crazy parent bubblewrapping their kid.”

    We do have a duty to make reasonable accommodations for disabilities. I’m all for ramps being built in schools so that children in wheel chairs can attend. Sign language interpreters for the deaf. Additional time to test for those with learning disabilities (although I think the definition of “learning disability” has extended too far). We had a classmate with severe cerebral palsy when I was in school who was provided an aide and a fancy computer to allow her to speak. Those a reasonable accommodations.

    The only accommodation needed for most food allergic people is to allow them bring their own food for lunch. I don’t know of a school that doesn’t already do that. IF, and only IF, there is an actual student or teacher with an allergy so severe that s/he can’t be exposed to substance without getting ill, then further accommodations can be made (allergen-free lunch table, ban allergen for all who eat lunch at the same time – whatever works but has the least amount of impact on the other kids).

    The problem with her accommodation request is that she hasn’t shown that a single person actually needs the accommodation. She hasn’t provided any evidence that a single child in the world has ever gotten so much as the sniffles from having acorns in their school yard. She hasn’t shown why simply cleaning up the acorns isn’t a reasonable accommodation if a valid accommodation is needed. The school need not remove everything a bully could use against a victim. Good god, the school could be an empty shell of a building and the bullies would still find something to bully people with.

    And since people can be allergic to damn near anything, where does the accommodation end? Can people with hay fever insist that all their allergens be removed from school grounds? It may just be sneezing and stuffed up noses but it can be pretty miserable. There goes the grass, flowers, gardens and all trees. In fact, all these items need to be removed from a substantial radius of the school since pollen travels. The school is going to need to hire round the clock cleaning crews to ensure that not a single speck of pollen, dust or mold ever exists in the building, and they must do it with only high dollar, hypo-allergenic cleaning supplies. All people who enter the building must be showered and provided a change of clothes lest they have remnants of cat and dog dander on them from their home pets. All jewelry is forbidden as allergies to just about every metal exist. Nothing can be consumed during the day except water since somebody is probably allergic to every food substance that could be brought in.

  92. Donna November 15, 2012 at 5:45 pm #

    And I’ll go out on a limb here and assume that St. Stephen Catholic School is a PRIVATE school. Meaning you 100% CHOOSE to send your child there and it is not simply the public school you are forced to attend based on where you live. It is the school you SELECTED out of however many other schools, private and public, were available. I’m gonna also assume that these aren’t some mutant oak trees, but instead are regular old trees that have been there longer than the parents of these poor children who can’t play on the same playground as acorns without dying have existed.

    Which begs the question, why the hell did you send your child to that school? And why should the city have to now accommodate you choosing poorly?

  93. Warren November 15, 2012 at 11:05 pm #

    Donna, it is not a private school. In Ontario there is two publicly funded boards. Public and Seperate/Catholic. This particular one is in the Seperate School Board.

  94. Donna November 16, 2012 at 1:07 am #

    But I assume this is still a choice school, however funded. Canadians aren’t forced to attend catholic school, right? There is another public school that the children could attend.

    In the US, you generally are told what public school your child must attend based on where you live. And there is absolutely no other automatic option. In many areas that single school is your SOLE option for free schooling. Other areas have publicly-funded charter or magnet school available for a very limited number of students through an extensive application process.

    I’m a lot more concerned about accommodations at a mandatory school (a school that is your only option for free education) than I am for a school you choose to attend, whether public or private. If the only school you can attend is filled with deadly acorns, they need to either get rid of the acorns or provide transportation/tuition for you to another school that won’t kill you. If you have to apply to the school, I’m not sure that even minimal consideration should be given to accommodations like this that you knew would be required before even applying to the school when you could have simply chosen to go to a free school in the same school district without acorns.

  95. Jenn November 16, 2012 at 3:02 am #

    In Ontario, you can choose to send your child to either the public or Catholic system since they are both government funded (non-Catholics can go to the Catholic school but may have to jump through some hoops to prove they are willing to teach their kids the Catholic way). Some people have no choice in the more rural communities and send their children to the Catholic school since the nearest public school may be an hour away and no busing is available. If you are Catholic and choose to send your child to a public school it affects your taxes, and you also still have to take your child to church for catechism classes, plus regular church service, Sunday school and sacrament preparation. The church does not make it easy on those who wish to put their children in the public system so for some families keeping them in Catholic school is a more realistic choice. The school mentioned is not in a rural community so there would be a public school within a short bus ride distance.

  96. Warren November 16, 2012 at 4:03 am #

    Pretty much on the mark Jenn. Except, the whole catholic kids going to public schools. I went from a catholic elementary school, to a public high school. We had two public high schools to choose from, or the catholic one. I chose the one that was on the semester system, and had better athletics.
    There were no difficulties because of my choice, as a matter of fact, my younger brother was still at the catholic elementary school, while I was in high school.
    The whole catholic way thing is far overblown. It isn’t as strict as what people like to think it is.

  97. Lisa November 16, 2012 at 7:43 pm #

    We have had peanut allergy students at our school and we have the most beautiful 150 year old Oak trees in the grounds. I have never ever been told that a child with a peanut allergy is in danger from the acorns. In fact I am pretty sure the child needs to ingest the nuts to react. Sounds like the mother is over-reacting and I understand as a parent that it must be terrifying but its just not feasible. If we removed the Oak trees from our school then I would argue that our other students would be in danger of contracting skin cancer. There must be other measures the parent can take – the child not be allowed into that particular area, have an exclusion zone, think outside the square.

  98. Lisa November 16, 2012 at 7:47 pm #

    and I forgot to add – if the parent is concerned that other children will bully the child and stuff acorns into her mouth, why then is she not concerned that they may stuff foods containing nuts into the child’s mouth – this could just go on and on.

  99. Paula November 17, 2012 at 10:08 am #

    I found this about acorns
    Both acorns and chestnuts are a member of the plant family called Fagaceae. This family is different from those of tree nuts (almond, walnut, hickory, pecan, cashew). The substances that produce allergy in acorns and chestnuts are therefore different than those that produce allergy to the other tree nuts. To my knowledge, there is no risk of a patient with nut allergy having a reaction to contact with acorns or with leaves of any sort. I could not find any evidence for such risk on an Internet search.

  100. Uly November 17, 2012 at 3:21 pm #

    In fact I am pretty sure the child needs to ingest the nuts to react.

    It depends on the severity of the allergy. Some can have a reaction from touching a nut or small amounts of particles from nuts, others from breathing nutty air. That’s a very severe allergy, though, and not really the norm even for nut allergies in North America,

    (Different places have different incidences of severe allergies. In Eastern Europe, nut allergies are very rare, but celery allergies are much more common. I’m not sure why this should be.)

  101. Lisa November 17, 2012 at 10:54 pm #

    My husband is alergic to pine nuts, so he avoids them. He asks if they’re in dishes at restaurants and at friends homes and doesn’t eat things he’s not sure about. Not hard to do, but every few years some creep in. Sometimes they look like sesame seeds. He gets all itchy and his throat starts to close. Thankfully banadryl does the trick but he does stay uncomfortable for the rest of the day. Someone said pinecones arent a problem, but my husband has has skin reactions (rash, itching) while cleaning the yard, so I’m sure sometimes an alergin you eat can also affect (effect?) the skin.

  102. Jessika November 19, 2012 at 12:01 pm #

    @Bob, nov 16th at 2.46.
    Peanuts are in the soy family. If you are allergic to peanuts any veggie in that family needs to be excluded. Peanuts are usually referred to as ground-nuts. In Asia particularly you will see recipes listing an ingredient at ground nut oil. Although it’s the proteines or some other substance, of a nut/fruit/other food allergen, oils are considered “safe”, best to avoid any nut oils if you are allergic.

    The woman needs to be educated, her children needs to be educated so that they can manage their own allergies. I knew basically at age 10 what to avoid. I never strayed from what I could eat because straying could mean a) death or b) significant discomfort for days.

  103. Warren November 19, 2012 at 3:31 pm #

    People whether or not the mean ole acorn is part of this family or that family is not the issue.

    The issue is an out of touch overprotective mother wanting to cut down trees, because of an irrational fear.

    It is going to be fun watching two of the biggest pain in the butt groups go head to head, on this. Overprotective parents vs. Tree huggers.

    Might even be a pay per view event, lol.

  104. Jenn November 20, 2012 at 12:45 pm #

    Warren- LOVE your last comment! Just wanted to clarify with the Catholics going to public school thing (we’re one of those families right now). Once you hit high school, because the `child’ has had confirmation, the `child’ is now seen as an adult in the eyes of the church and is responsible for getting self to church. No more sacraments are done during high school (unless we have a teen marriage, a young priest in the making or a fatal illness). It all varies from church to church as to how to teach the public school kids and I’ve heard it go so far as the entire family must get a passport book stamped every Sunday to prove attendance at church in order to have their children receive sacrament.

  105. Cynthia November 24, 2012 at 11:15 pm #

    Really!? I have 2 boys age 5 and 6. One is allergic to peanuts and the other is allergic to hazelnuts (tree nut). I believe that the best way to protect my children is to educate them. Not shield them from every conceivable (real or imagined) danger. It is scary to see you child go into anaphylactic shock after ingesting a nut. I’ve been there. I know it’s awful. But cutting down oak trees because she fears for her child’s safety is so wrong in many ways.

    I also live in Canada not too far from this mother. Schools have a sign saying it is “nut-free” facility only to advise parents and students not to bring nuts into school property. To interpret the message as guaranteeing that the facility is absolutely nut-free is just crazy logic.

    Cut down oak trees to remove allergic children’s risk of dying? No, thanks! There is no documented medical evidence (nor anecdotal ones from my perspective) that says that local oak trees and acorns can cause anaphalactic shock. And, please, please stop advocating on my kids’ behalf.

  106. Ellen November 28, 2012 at 10:44 am #

    I’m a little late but wanted to post on this thread. My daughter has a food allergy, as do I, and stories like this do such a disservice to the majority of people with allergies. Yes, some accommodations may need to be made, most of them for preschoolers. Once you get to the upper grades accommodations are less necessary. And I strongly disagree with accommodations for something that hasn’t occurred in case someone might have an allergy, despite the medical community agreeing this is very unlikely to happen.

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Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Mom wants oak trees cut down at nut-free school | My Family Blog - November 14, 2012

    […] other public properties where children with allergies might be exposed.”Lenore Skenazy of Free Range Kids had a similar sentiment in regards to this story.“If she thinks the school should chop down […]

  2. Free Range Kids » Is TV News Going…Sane? Free-Range Kids on Two Bizarrely Rational TV Shows Last Week - November 19, 2012

    […] that is an interview I did with Sun News TV in Canada about the mom who wants the local school to cut down its oak trees out of consideration to allergic kids. The host, Anthony Furey, really gave me a chance to speak […]

  3. Neighbors’ trees block his view - Overlawyered - November 24, 2012

    […] also says acorns “can also be used to bully and torment children.” [Toronto Star via Lenore Skenazy] […]