Top 5 Tips on Approaching Others about Food Allergies and Accommodations (Kyle Dine)
Today’s post is from none other than Kyle Dine, food allergy role model and educator. My family and I were lucky enough to see Kyle Dine perform at a school assembly for elementary kids last year. It was awesome! Everyone was dancing, shouting out answers to Kyle’s questions about food allergies, and laughing at the antics of EpiMan (one of Kyle’s very cool puppets). Honestly, I had no idea food allergies could be so fun for anyone, much less an auditorium filled room of kids, some with food allergies, but most without. And every single one of the parents and teachers were smiling and clapping along – it was a great time! In the end we bought two of Kyle’s CDs and jammed out to them on the way home and my kids have been listening to them ever since. Their favorite songs are “Food Allergies Rock” and ” I Wrote A Song About Allergies” – you can hear them both here.
Kyle travels around singing about food allergies. Somehow he manages to educate and entertain at the same time, which is no simple task. But he can’t reach everyone. So, he’s making the first allergy education video for elementary school students to ensure ALL kids can learn about food allergies. The video will feature songs, puppets and fun! To raise funds to finance the video, he started a campaign on Kickstarter.
How can you help spread allergy awareness to kids in an entertaining way?
- Please visit Kyle’s Kickstarter campaign, then donate and share the message as much as you can. There are even donation options for having your child’s photo or video clip added to the final video! How cool is that?!
- Make a purchase at The Eczema Company. We will donate $1 from every sale (November 21 – December 20, 2014) to Kyle’s Kickstarter campaign.
And since Kyle is just so stinkin’ awesome, he’s sharing some personal tips with us about living with food allergies. You don’t want to miss these!
Top 5 Tips on Approaching Others about Food Allergies and Accommodations
By Kyle Dine (bio below)
After dealing with food allergies for nearly three decades, I’ve communicated my condition to a wide variety of people and have fine-tuned how I approach the subject with others. At the end of the day, you want to be taken seriously and typically get assurances – such as a safe meal, school policy or a worry-free night with a babysitter in charge.
When having these conversations, and making requests, I generally follow these five tips that help in effective communication and dialogue with others.
- Know your Audience: Are they well-versed in allergy? Are they nervous or over-confident about allergies? Use your best judgment on their level of understanding and their willingness to help.
- Adjust your Tone Accordingly: Depending on your audience, choose a tone that you feel is appropriate. Sometimes a hard-line approach explaining severity is needed for an over-confident waiter, sometimes using humor works when at a dinner party with friends.
- Discover, Don’t Dictate: Everyone knows someone with an allergy and have probably been in situations handling them before. Find out what they know/what they typically do in these situations. If inadequate to you, suggest that you would be more comfortable with an extra precaution. Giving them a voice to start with, makes them an empowered part of the conversation and solution.
- Work with Them, not Against Them: If you feel the situation is hopeless, don’t give up, but don’t burn your bridges. Sometimes the subject of allergies and accommodations may be very new to people, and no obvious solution comes to mind. Offer to help come up with answers, as you likely won’t be the last person they encounter in the same situation.
- Say Thanks: So simple, but so often overlooked. If you have a good conversation and they try hard to understand your needs, thank them for their effort and let them know your appreciation. You have just made that person much more allergy aware and showing your gratitude helps reinforce their new action/attitude. You are changing the world for the better!
Bio: Kyle Dine is a food allergy educator who creates school-wide allergy awareness assemblies for children with songs, puppets and games. He is currently fundraising on Kickstarter to create a DVD “Kyle Dine & Friends” that will be a ground-breaking resource for schools and communities. Help support food allergy education in schools by backing his campaign here.