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Allergies and intolerances

Would you consider a nut allergy to be a disability?

60 replies

neolara · 12/11/2011 19:30

I've just been looking at the Disability Discrimination Act's definition of disability - "a mental or physical impairment which has a substantial and long-term adverse effect on their ability to carry out normal day-to-day activities".

Now obviously a nut allergy is not the same kind of disability as a life-limiting illness or MS. And it may fit the criteria, I guess depending on how you define "substantial". I haven't made up my mind. Just wondering what others think.

OP posts:
TimeWasting · 12/11/2011 19:38

Depends on the severity I'd say.

fanjoforthemammaries7850 · 12/11/2011 19:39

speaking as someone whose child has a disability AND a nut allergy, I'd say no

kaumana · 12/11/2011 19:42

Speaking as one who has a life threatening nut allergy I would say no.

pinkytheshrunkenhead · 12/11/2011 19:43


hermioneweasley · 12/11/2011 19:45

The Act lists the normal day to day activities which need to be adversely impacted. Off the top of my head, I can't think how a nut allergy would affect them.

thisisyesterday · 12/11/2011 19:45

no, i don't

bruffin · 12/11/2011 19:46

Well both DH and DS have nut allergy and wouldn't class it as a disability. They both have other conditions that affect their lives more
ie DH suffers from depression and has been classified as disabled in his work place because of it. It means that he is allowed time off for counselling etc

DS also has a dyslexic type SLD and a condition called GEFS+ which I sincerely hope he has outgrown. I haven't worked it out yet but the GEFS+ may affect him getting a driving license when he is 17 next year and has a febrile seizure in the last 5 years.

neolara · 12/11/2011 19:51

I guess I was thinking about it in the context of schools and thinking it would have an impact on lunch time arrangements and which resources were used in the classroom, which could be interpreted as daily activities.

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kaumana · 12/11/2011 20:08

TBH - and I've said this before on other nut allergy threads, the earlier you start educating a child about their allergy and teaching them to take responsibility for it the more so the better. Looking at it as a disability is very extreme. IMHO

neolara · 12/11/2011 20:18

Thank you all for your views. I'm a school governor and we are currently re-writing our school's disability policy. As part of that, I've been thinking about what the legal definition of disability would mean in our school. It's clearly open to interpretation and there might be lots of things that are controversial (e.g. is dyslexia a disability?). I probably wouldn't even have thought about nut allergies other than my 2 yo had a severe reaction to peanuts this week so we're heading on a personal journey up that road. I was very interested to hear what other people think.

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mintyneb · 12/11/2011 20:23

I have to agree with the others and would say that if your were trying to turn it into some kind of policy you would be pretty discrimatory if you only looked at nut allergies!

Like other people on this board my DD has a very severe dairy allergy and cannot have any protection whatsoever from school nut ban policies. I wouldn't be too happy if there were then other policies in place that left her even more unsupported.

I am very sorry to hear though that you have had to go through allergic reactions this week, they are no fun for anyone

lukewarmmama · 12/11/2011 20:27

I don't know. I think there are degrees of disability, and a severe food allergy, especially multiple allergies, could be seen as on the mild end of the spectrum.

It's restrictive, can mean being excluded from many day to day situations, and life threatening. It just isn't taken very seriously by very many people, so is somehow more easily dismissed.

Would anyone else with a severe health problem that impinges on their life be seen as disabled? I don't know, so that's a genuine question...

kaumana · 12/11/2011 20:31

I agree with Minty it would be hard to differentiate and put in place policies for all allergies.

Sorry that you and your child have had a bad week. Sad

rocksandhardplaces · 12/11/2011 20:34

Are you kidding, people? Asthma can be classed as a disability, as can dyslexia. Depression was mentioned above. A nut allergy that can potentially kill is not disabling? Can people with nut allergies do everything that people without can't? If you are excluded from many day to day situations because of it, it is disabling.

The ICF definition of disability is some sort of physical or mental difference (impairment) that impacts upon your ability to undertake activities, restricts your participation e.g. in family or community life and has a social and emotional impact. I can't see how having a severe allergy of any type would not be included in this definition. So if someone had, say, a terrible desire to eat peanut butter at work despite a colleague having a life-threatening allergy, you don't think it might be good to have some legal protection to enforce a no-peanut rule? What about if the person had to have time off because of illness related to peanut exposure? Should it be counted as "normal sick", that can be used in any old restructuring of a department or when they go for a job?

bruffin · 12/11/2011 20:34

The anaphylaxis campaign has policy guidance for schools

rocksandhardplaces · 12/11/2011 20:38

It is included in the ICFDH as an example of an impairment

b4351 Hypersensitivity reactions
Functions of the body's response of increased sensitization to foreign substances, such as in sensitivities to different antigens.
Inclusions: impairments such as hypersensitivities or allergies
Exclusion: tolerance to food (b5153)

neolara · 12/11/2011 20:40

Lukewarmmama - I think people with a severe health problem that impinges on their life in the long term would be considered disabled given the Disability Discrimination Act's (DDA) legal definition which is ""a mental or physical impairment which has a substantial and long-term adverse effect on their ability to carry out normal day-to-day activities". Long term is usually interpreted to mean at least 12 months.

Additionally, under the DDA, certain groups of children do not have to prove their condition has a substantial adverse effect on their lives. These are children whose treatment (excluding glasses) offset the effect of the condition e.g. children on treatment for epilepsy or diabetes. I had been wondering whether a restricted diet would count as treatment under this definition.

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kaumana · 12/11/2011 20:44

bruffin - Good link

lukewarmmama · 12/11/2011 21:17

In which case, yes, severe cases (ie necessitating epipen carrying and evasive action) should be classed as a disability imo.

I would love schools to have to make more informed provision for allergy sufferers. Not exclusion of foods from school (not practical given the range of foods covered), but just having a policy, decent teacher training, putting pressure on lunch providers for appropriate menu choices, thinking about how not to make sufferers feel excluded etc. The idea that I wouldn't have to battle my way to getting them to think about all of that, because they'd set it all out in a policy already, would be absolutely chuffing brilliant.

Hmmm, what school are you at op Wink?

kaumana · 12/11/2011 21:38

[lukewarmmama] Just out of interest I'm 40 and I carry an epi-pen and have to take "evasive" action to avoid nuts . Do you think I'm disabled?

rocksandhardplaces · 12/11/2011 21:41

That's surely up to you to decide, but do you believe that if you missed work because of your nut allergy or couldn't undertake certain activities because of your nut allergy that you should have legal protection from dismissal? Or would you class it as the same as having a common cold or choosing not to undertake an activity?

kaumana · 12/11/2011 21:47

An absolute No, I'm 40+ and have lived with this since I was 7, I think it may have popped up in the past as an issue!!


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neolara · 12/11/2011 21:51

Kaumana - in your case it sounds like your medical condition does not have a "substantial.... effect on your ability to carry our normal day to day activities"", so I'm guessing that you don't count yourself as disabled. But what about if someone's allergies did make a substantial impact on their day to day life? Or maybe there is a transition stage where you are learning how to manage the medical condition, so initially it impacts enormously but as you learn more and more it impacts less and less. And would it make a difference that you as an adult are able to manage your environment sufficiently that you are able to avoid your allergens, while a child (a young child?) is dependent on other people to manage their environment safely for them? And when a child is in school they may be being looked after by people may not be that knowledgeable about allergies. Making me think!

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kaumana · 12/11/2011 21:52

Just to add - One of the times when I was blue lighted to hospital I was back to work the next night. I felt fine...

kaumana · 12/11/2011 22:08

Neolara - You make some very good points. As an adult I'm in control (as much as I can be) of my allergy. Now we know far more about allergies than in the 70's!!

However, I will stick to my point of not making an environment being perceived safe for children.

If you have a young child YES you should absolutely ensure that your child is safe but at at some point you WILL have to let them judge what is safe and what is not.

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