A mother is accusing a school of forcing her child to eat alone at lunch because she has an illness.
Brandi Lingrosso says she believes her daughter, 5-year-old Mia, is being "segregated" because she has gluten allergies as a result of having celiac disease, LittleThings reports.
In response, it appears the child's school, The Children's House, has made the child sit alone at lunch in case she has a reaction.
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Yet Brandi says she purposefully packs her child's lunch so she would not.
“We wouldn’t have throat-swelling, it wouldn’t be a medical emergency, so it wasn’t necessary for Mia to be separated,” Brandi said, 9News reports.
Brandi says she worries the school's response is psychologically affecting her child, who now refuses to eat dinner with her family.
The worried mother believes the child's young age is causing her to internalize the "segregation," making her think she is bad.
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Brandi says she has taken to coming to the girl's school and eating with her at lunch to make her feel better.
While she understands the school has good intentions, she believes they are reacting poorly.
In response, the school says they are not attacking the child. Instead, they are trying to protect her from getting a medical reaction, prompted either by her own food or sharing with another child.
They say they are open to small changes in the future, although they did not specify what kind.
Mia is not the first child to experience emotional hardship as a result of food allergies, the National Post reports.
Researchers say many children with these conditions face loneliness, social isolation, and stigma.
“In elementary school and high school, when they see the EpiPen pouch … they think to themselves 'there is something different about you,'" said Robert, a teen. “Automatically, you are tagged as a person who is different … you are on the outside.”
Sara Shannon, mother to Sabrina -- who died from food allergies -- had similar concerns as Brandi for her child.
“At school, Sabrina was instructed to sit alone, away from all of her classmates at a table, well removed from other students,” she said. “Despite showing a brave front and a positive attitude, I believe that this exclusion at a tender age was very harmful and hard on her.”