Everyday Cool with Food Allergies, Pistiner
I had a chance to ask colleague Dr. Michael Pistiner a few questions about his new book for children called Everyday Cool with Food Allergies. I read it and it’s a little book that packs a lot in about giving children the tools to talk about their fears and concerns with food allergies.
Allergic Girl: Who is The No Biggie Bunch and how did you get involved with them?
Dr. Michael Pistiner: I was first introduced to The No Biggie Bunch series when I met Heather Mehra and Kerry McManama, its creators, at the 2009 Boston FAAN walk. I very quickly fell in love with the characters of The No Biggie Bunch and saw them as a great way to help teach kids about the basics of food allergy management. Kids can really relate to this diverse group of characters that have a "can do" attitude. The six children are each individuals, with their own special interests, not defined by food allergy. The majority have a food allergy, one child also has celiac disease, and one has no food allergy. The No Biggie Bunch has made it easier to empower and educate children and their families. Working with them on Everyday Cool with Food Allergies has been a great honor.
AG: What is your goal for Everyday Cool with Food Allergies?
MP: The primary goal of this book is to help kids get comfortable with participating in their own basic food allergy management. Educating kids about their food allergies can be tricky. The unknown can be daunting and children may fill in the blanks with their own even scarier answers. Healthcare providers have little time to train parents about food allergy management, let alone help teach a child about how to participate in their food allergy management. This leaves the teaching up to parents, other caregivers, the media, and peers. Some may not fill in a child's uncertainties with accurate or honest answers, leaving the children with the potential for fear. My intention with teaming up with The No Biggie Bunch was to provide a child friendly guide to help adults empower and educate children to participate in their own food allergy management and comfortably cope
with their food allergies.
AG: Who is the target audience for this book?
MP: The book is designed to educate both children and adults about basic food allergy management. Each section not only directly engages and teaches kids, using The No Biggie Bunch characters, but also includes a "note to care givers," that provides additional information including tips, references, and resources for caregivers (parents, school nurses, teachers, relatives, etc.). Not only could this be used to educate children with food allergies, but also used to increase the awareness and understanding of children without food allergy. They can see why it is that kids with food allergies need to do what they do and how they can help their friends.
AG: What experiences helped you write this book?
MP: As an allergist and food allergy educator I have learned so much from the children and families that I care for and work with. I've seen how each individual child and family copes with food allergy differently. As the father of a child with food allergies I've seen first hand the number of questions and teaching opportunities that can come up on a regular basis for a child with food allergy and how my son copes in his own individual way. My wife and I are still working hard at figuring out our best approach to match his learning style and temperament. Parents and other caregivers soon become experts in this way. No one knows their child like they do. A major goal of this book is to give these "experts" easy to translate food allergy management tips that they can modify and deliver in the most effective way to their children.