When your child is young, it is fairly easy to control the variables in their environment – where they go, who they see, etc. – in order to help them keep their asthma under control. Once they enter the school environment, however, there will be large stretches of time when they will not be with you and this can cause the moms of asthmatic kids a lot of anxiety. However, working with your child's school to help keep their condition under control can help greatly reduce these feelings of worry.
Understand that Asthma Control is a School Issue, Too
Schools have a vested interest in helping their asthmatic students to prevent flare-ups of their condition. According to a publication from the National Asthma Education and Prevention Program, asthma is a leading cause of absence of from school and is, on average, responsible for some 14 million lost school days a year. However, studies show that when a child's asthma is under good control, this greatly decreases the number of days a child needs to miss. Schools can play a big part in this prevention, especially when there is good communication with staff, parents and family, the child's doctor and the child him/herself.
Create an Asthma Action Plan
The center of your collaboration with your child's school should be an asthma action plan. This plan will allow you, your child, and the school staff to all be on the same page when it comes to asthma control. While there is no set form for this plan, KidsHealth notes that it should at least including the following information:
- Your child's asthma history (when he/she was diagnosed, any hospitalizations, etc.)
- All medications as well as their dosages and frequencies (i.e., how often your child takes them)
- Your child's triggers, if known (in other words, what seems to make the asthma worse)
- What early signs of a flare-up your child usually exhibits
- How independent your child is in regards to using his/her inhaler
- What steps to take when your child is having a flare-up and what to do if your child is off-site (such as at a sports event or on a field trip)
- Contact information for you and for your child's doctor
- When emergency help should be sought
Keep Everyone Involved
The best way to communicate your action plan, notes WebMD, is to have a round-table conference with the staff at your child's school about the asthma treatment. Included in this conference should be the school nurse, your child's teachers, coaches or physical education instructors, and support staff like your child's bus driver (if your child takes the bus). This way, the plan can be gone over in detail so that everyone will understand what steps they need to take if your child has an attack.
Know Your Rights
One issue that moms might face is the question of school rules in regards to inhalers and/or EpiPens for children with asthma. Some schools allow children who are independent in taking their medication to keep their inhaler with them at all times, while some prefer to have the medication in the hands of a teacher or the school nurse. However, KidsHealth points out that parents can invoke their child's right to keep their inhaler under laws like the Americans with Disabilities Act or Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act.
Keeping your child's asthma under control when they are in school can seem daunting. However, with good and ongoing communication between you, your child's doctor and the school staff, the important people in your child's life can work together to make sure that the condition is controlled as well as possible so that your child can get the full benefits of his/her education and have an active, productive life while at school.