Allergy & Asthma Network Mothers of Asthmatics Offers Healthy Back-to-School Tips for Children with Asthma and Allergies
FAIRFAX, VA, JULY 27, 2009—As students head back to school, parents of children with allergies and asthma have some good news to celebrate. Thanks to Allergy & Asthma Network Mothers of Asthmatics (AANMA) members and other supporters, new laws in Louisiana, Connecticut and Georgia give students the right to carry and self-administer their medications. (For more details, read AANMA’s press release here.)
As states and schools make these changes, parents and pediatricians are also making changes: They are checking students to see if they are ready for the responsibility for carrying and using inhalers and auto-injectable epinephrine.
Asthma and anaphylaxis self-management begins at home
If you want to know whether your child is ready to self-medicate, the answer is not age- or grade-dependent. Kids with asthma or anaphylaxis must learn to self-medicate at some point. Like learning to tie their shoes or recite their ABCs, they’ll need to practice what they learn and have the supportive reinforcement of parents and teachers throughout the process.
To help parents decide if children are ready to self-medicate, AANMA put together the following questions. See how your answers match up with your child’s answers. These are the best clues to determining your child’s readiness to manage symptoms at school.
- Does your child use an inhaler (preferably with a holding chamber) correctly at home?
- Does he know the name of his medication and when he is supposed to use it?
- Does he stay calm when having asthma symptoms?
- Does he tell you when he is having symptoms or when he has used the inhaler?
- Does he use a peak flow meter?
- Does your child carry his inhaler with him at all times?
- Does he understand that the inhaler is not a toy and should not be shared with friends?
- Is your child able to use auto-injectable epinephrine correctly without assistance?
- Does your child know what to do immediately after using the auto-injectable epinephrine? (The right answer is to tell an adult to take him to the hospital.)
- Does your child wear a medical identification tag or bracelet for use in emergency situations?
- Does he understand that auto-injectable epinephrine is not a toy and should not be shared with friends?
“Yes” answers indicate a ready and willing student. “No” answers represent an opportunity to teach your child new skills and bolster his confidence so that when the time comes (and it will come) to make a medical decision, he is more likely to make the right one.
Then there is the question of maturity. Does your child demonstrate a responsible attitude and respect for his symptoms, his medications and the need to avoid situations that place him at risk?
Students who self-manage symptoms must be willing to notify teachers, the school nurse or designated administrator when they need to use their inhalers to treat symptoms or when they are having an anaphylactic reaction. They must be willing to tell their parents about all medication use or symptoms experienced while away from home.
Not all students are ready to self-manage asthma or anaphylaxis at school. If not, school personnel will need to ensure that the student’s medication travels with him from one classroom to the next to prevent treatment delays in times of need. Your child’s allergy or asthma management plan should specify this.
Whether students self-manage symptoms and medications or have assistance while at school, parents need to ensure that backup medication is available in the school clinic should the child become separated from his medication at any time. Parents must also complete required forms and keep them updated during the school year if contact information or emergency treatment plans change.
More back-to-school tips from AANMA:
- When is it okay for your child to go to school—and when should he or she stay home?
- Some children have life-threatening food allergies. As a parent, how can you make sure that your child is safe during lunchtime at school?
- Student-athletes with asthma and allergies can thrive on the playing field as long as they’re careful. Here are some tips.
Founded in 1985, Allergy & Asthma Network Mothers of Asthmatics is the leading national nonprofit family organization dedicated to eliminating suffering and death due to asthma, allergies and related conditions. AANMA’s core areas of expertise are education, advocacy and outreach. The organization’s www.aanma.org website and award-winning publications, Allergy & Asthma Today magazine and The MA Report newsletter, are consumer lifelines to medical news and healthy living. For more information, call 800.878.4403.
For more information, contact Marcela Gieminiani at (703) 641-9595 ext. 109.