Wow! Summer flew by and now it's that time of year when kids register for school and parents buy school supplies. It is easy to remember to get the backpacks, lunch bags, and pencils, but planned asthma appointments with the doctor, completed asthma and allergy action plans, and extra emergency medications are often forgotten.
For me, this has been a huge change. I have been homeschooling my children for several years and now I find myself fighting the crowds at the local school supply sales and trying to find the "hidden" appointments with our family doctor to get health care records and forms signed for each of my two children. Trying to organize all of the various asthma and allergy action plans and the inhaler and Epi-pen® permission slips so that they can self-carry these life-saving medications is a very interesting process.
But it's worth it. Students learn best in a safe, happy environment. Parents can support the educational process better when they are confident that their children's health is well taken care of. To make the process of going back to school easier for children with asthma or severe allergies, parents can prepare by taking the following steps:
o Schedule a planned asthma visit with a health care provider to get or update your child's asthma action plan, make sure his asthma in under control, make adjustments in medication and treatment, and get new prescriptions.
o Obtain regular asthma medications for home and an extra set of emergency asthma medications for school.
o Obtain a current, written asthma/allergy management plan from the doctor. A Certified Asthma Educator may be able to help with this.
o Meet with a certified asthma educator to help your child learn the best way to use all of their medications. Asthma educators can also help families find usefulful resources in the community and assist them in accessing medications and health care providers in their area.
o Ensure that all necessary asthma and allergy-related files are completed at school and that all staff (including principal, teachers, nurses, and coaches) have immediate access to emergency information.
o Ensure that the school staff is trained in assisting students in emergency medication administration through staff training sessions and workshops focused on asthma and allergy education and support in the school. If staff has not been trained, organizations such as Allergy & Asthma Network Mothers of Asthmatics, American Latex Allergy Association, American Lung Association, Asthma & Allergy Foundation of America, Asthma Allies and Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis Network can help.
o Verify that all emergency medications are immediately accessible to the student during school and school-related activities.
Help Your School Protect Allergic and Asthmatic Students
Schools must make an effort to create environments so that children with asthma or allergies can live and breathe without the fear of an unnecessary asthma or anaphylaxis emergency. By coordinating the efforts in several areas throughout a school or entire district, schools can be prepared to prevent and manage any respiratory emergency.