The Allergy Brothers is Changing!

It’s all change here at Allergy Towers, and the change has been led by the boys.  The blog will become a secondary, although still very important, aspect of the Allergy Brothers brand.  We’ll be posting less frequently, but with an emphasis on longer, more informative posts.  We’ll be updating our Instagram more often though.

As to what our primary brand activity will be, well that’s going to be a secret for a little bit longer!  We have lots of work to do in a very short time!

 

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Jungle Adventure – Stanway, Essex, UK

The Allergy Brothers conveniently only have a few days between their birthdays, and just less than two years between their ages.  This means they are cursed to have shared birthday parties forever!  Luckily, they get on very well and have shared friends and interests.

This year the boys’ party was at Jungle Adventure in Stanway, Colchester.  This is our favourite soft play centre.  It’s light, clean, and well-maintained.  There is a wide range of equipment so it’s very accessible.  Our only complaints are that the music can be too loud, especially if you sit at the sides, and that the Allergy Brothers might be aging out of Jungle Adventure.  Is it too much to ask for the Jungle Adventure team to open a centre for older children too?!

Birthday parties can be a bit sad for us, because everyone, except the birthday boys, can eat the party food.  The Allergy Brothers usually have to bring a packed lunch.  We were really pleased that the Jungle Adventure staff worked so hard to cater for them.  The Allergy Brothers each had a platter of ham and vegetable batons, with crisps and tortilla chips.  For dessert, they each had a bowl of fresh fruit.

Finally, we want to thank unflappable party host, Teni, who was so calm and efficient.

The Allergy Brothers definitely had a happy birthday party.

Happy Birthday, Allergy Wizard!

I am really very bad at cake decorating so my heart sunk when Allergy Wizard asked for a Harry Potter birthday cake.  Then I googled Harry Potter cakes and I was both impressed and even more discouraged.  I mean, look at these cakes.  It’s not cake decorating; it’s sugar sculpture.  These cakes are art!

So thank goodness for Hagrid and his wonky, misspelt birthday cake in the first film.  Something vaguely attainable, except Allergy Wizard doesn’t like buttercream and the green writing icing had an allergen in so I had to use blue.  The birthday boy was happy though and that is the only thing that matters!  Happy Birthday, Allergy Wizard.

Chuffed about Chufa milk? (DF,GF)

We have a problem here at Allergy Towers.  Both the Allergy Brothers do cooking at school.  In fact, Allergy Wizard’s class cook every week and have now progressed to the stage that they make a two course cooked lunch for themselves once a week.  I think this is fantastic.  It can be difficult juggling ingredients though.  The biggest problem we have is dairy-based recipes.  The Allergy Brothers are allergic to dairy, soya, coconut and rice.  At home, this isn’t a problem as we use almond milk.  Unfortunately, there are children in their class with severe nut allergies so they can’t use any nut-based milks at school.  This has rather left us scratching our heads.  Chufa milk (AKA tiger nut milk) seemed to be the answer.  Despite its tiger nut nickname, Chufa is a tuber, not a nut, and so shouldn’t trigger a nut allergy.  However, it can trigger an allergic reaction in people, who have pollen or grass allergies.

We decided to try this new ingredient at home, and the boys were keen to make a mango smoothie.

Ingredients

As much mango as you can be bothered to cut up from a fresh mango

Chufa milk (enough to overfill the blender so it runs all over the counter)

Maple syrup (as much as you can bung in before killjoy Mum notices)

Method

  1. Cut up the mango while your Mum tries not to fret and fuss about the big knife.20180416_172829
  2. Bung the mango in the blender with too much Chufa milk and sneak in some maple syrup.20180416_173012
  3. That’s it.

Allergy Wizard tried their smoothie first, and within a minute or so began to have an allergic reaction.  HIs mouth felt “spiky” and he began coughing and finding it hard to breathe.  Thank goodness, this stopped very quickly after he had some anti-histamine.  But clearly, not a non-dairy solution for Allergy Wizard.

Amazingly, Allergy Plant was happy to try the smoothie after his brother’s reaction, he really enjoyed it.  He also finished off the rest of the Chufa milk carton the next day.  Chufa milk tastes nutty; the closest thing I could compare it to is macadamia nut milk.  If it wasn’t for Allergy Wizard’s allergic reaction, we would have been very chuffed about Chufa milk.

We bought our milk from Planet Organic.  Here is an affiliate link to the Ecomil Chufa milk; they also sell the raw Chufa for snacking, putting in salads, baking etc.

The Emotional Impact of a Visual Processing Disorder

April is Autism Acceptance Month. I wrote a post at the beginning of this month about a visual processing disorder called Meares-Irlen Syndrome. This disorder is more common in autistic people, but is also pretty common in the general population. Click here if you want to read that original post. I wanted that post to be full of practical ideas. I hoped that, after reading it, readers felt they could potentially identify behaviours that might suggest they or someone they know has Meares-Irlen Syndrome and what they could do about it. That’s not the whole story though so I wanted to post a second blog about the emotional impact of having Meares-Irlen Syndrome.

The most basic way that Meares-Irlen Syndrome affects a person’s emotional development is by reducing their independence. A lot of the markers of a child’s increasing self help are difficult for people with Meares-Irlen Syndrome. For example, using cutlery is harder. You probably don’t realise it, but, as you move food from your plate to your mouth, this process is monitored by your eyes. If your eyes can’t smoothly track a moving object then they can’t provide your hand with accupexels-photo-1005373.jpegrate feedback about where a fork is in relation to your mouth. This means a lot of stained clothes and, with age, embarrassment about missing your mouth with your food. Crossing a road safely is hard when you can’t visually judge speeds and distances. Riding a bike is difficult when you can’t keep your balance. All these little and big difficulties make it harder to think of yourself as a competent and independent human.

It goes a little deeper than that though. I was talking to a friend and we happened to mention the word “gaslighting”. An extremely astute 9 year old girl was listening to us and asked us what it meant. We explained that it is when someone questions or manipulates your perception and memory so many times that you start to think you are going mad. She coolly replied that it sounded like what people do to her with her sensory processing; “my eyes are so sharp that I can see things that others can’t and then they tell me it is not there.” I thought that was really insightful and sad; and it’s similar if you have Meares-Irlen Syndrome. You perceive the world differently to others: a striped white and black t shirt might cause you to see wavy, rainbow auras in the stripes.

pexels-photo-714698.jpegYou also perceive the world differently to how others expect you to.  In primary school, I was quite verbally clever, but I really wasn’t doing that well at school.  The general consensus was that I was lazy and didn’t concentrate enough.  I started to fulfil my promise suddenly when I moved to secondary school.  I didn’t work out why until I was a teacher myself.  I had a classroom with a whiteboard and a black board next to each other.  I realised that I could read black pen on a white board, but I could not read white chalk on a blackboard at all.  My secondary school had white boards, and my primary school had black boards.  That was the difference in my achievement!  None of my teachers had considered that the gap between my potential and my achievement  due to my perception, not any defects in my personality!

I wonder if having Meares-Irlen Syndrome actually changes your world view.  I couldn’t find any research on this, but it seems plausible that the way you experience the world would impact on how you feel about things.  Someone with Meares-Irlen Syndrome lives in a world, where everything is relative.  Things are not always where you think they are.  Objects, people and animals don’t travel through space in the way you expect.  The world is unpredictable and a difficult place to trust under these circumstances.  I wonder if that extends to how you view people too, and whether people with Meares-Irlen Syndrome are more likely to be anxious and depressed as a result.

I may be taking things too far, but there is the Jesuit saying “Give me a boy until he is 7, and I will show you the man.”  At seven years old, I was clumsy and not really doing that well at school.  I still feel that way, regardless of what I have achieved since.  I can’t help thinking that having Meares-Irlen Syndrome has informed my personality, both my strengths and my weaknesses.