Friday 27th October 2017
Today the Anaphylaxis Campaign are hosting the exclusive UK online launch of ‘Leo’s Story’, a short peanut allergy disease awareness film, to coincide with its live debut at the European Academy of Allergy and Clinical Immunology’s (EAACI’s) Pediatric Allergy and Asthma Meeting (PAAM) taking place in London between 26th and 28th October 2017.
Produced by Aimmune Therapeutics Ltd, ‘Leo’s Story’ is a film about a young boy with peanut allergy, designed to help raise awareness that living with the threat of a reaction due to a severe food allergy can have a huge emotional impact on children and their families. In the UK it is estimated that around 5 – 8 % of children have a proven food allergy with up to 1 in 55 children having a peanut allergy .
We caught up with Audrey Dunn Galvin of the School of Applied Psychology at University College Cork, who acted as psychological advisor for the film production team, to ask for her insights about the project.
What’s your experience of working with children at risk of severe allergies and how did this feed into making the film?
I’m a registered psychologist and as part of my research I’ve spoken to many parents, carers and children over the years about how they manage and cope with living with severe allergies, so this experience fed into the advice I provided. The ‘Leo’s Story’ video beautifully captures the experience of a particular young boy I spoke to who asked his mum “when will I be normal?”
What are some of the psychological and emotional impacts of living with a severe food allergy like peanut allergy and how does ‘Leo’s Story’ help to illustrate this?
It can have a significant negative effect on daily life resulting in anxiety, worry or avoidance behaviours in some children or even inspire risk taking behaviour in others. It really does depend on the child. But having confidence in managing their allergy can have such a great impact in helping children lead happy and healthy lives, which is a really positive thing for parents and carers to remember if they’re feeling concerned.
The film is quite dramatic with no words spoken but very powerful music – how did your input influence the production of the film in this respect?
The music really helps people watching the film to empathise with the feelings of fear that a child can experience. In can be very worrying to be on high alert when out and about, at school or at a special occasion like a party so watching ‘Leo’s Story’ does take you on a journey with that child and the reality of what they might experience every day.
How do you think showing the film will be able to help children at risk of severe allergies?
‘Leo’s Story’ gives a voice to all children living and coping with food allergy. Managing food allergy can be a challenge, so the more people who are aware about how allergies can affect young people, the more they will hopefully pause and think about how they can help a child with allergies to feel safer and more secure.
If a parent or carer is worried about how their child is dealing emotionally with their allergies, what support would you advise?
Meeting with other parents and carers who also have children with severe allergies can really help. Also speak to your GP or allergy specialist if your child seems to be particularly affected by anxiety or worry to see if there are specialist services for children in your area that might be able to provide some support and reassurance.
#LeosStory: Watch. Share. Raise awareness.
Watch the film on YouTube here.
The Anaphylaxis Campaign provide information and support to parents and carers of children at risk of severe allergies through our free helpline and support groups run by dedicated volunteers.
Our helpline team love to answer your questions about allergies and reactions and put your mind at rest over the things concerning you. Contact 01252 542029 or email firstname.lastname@example.org between 9am and 5pm, Monday to Friday with your allergy problems or questions.
Our support groups are the perfect chance to meet other people living with severe allergies in your area, share experiences, swap tips and talk about what’s on your mind in a relaxed, supportive setting. The groups are free to attend and open to adults as well as families affected by anaphylaxis and other related allergies. For more information please visit our website page here.