The start of a new school year brings lots of preparation, especially for parents who have children with allergies or asthma. Because of their specific conditions, extra accommodations must be made. The Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, Texas Chapter (AAFA-TX) suggests these tips to ensure your child has a safe and healthy school year.
Make a doctor’s appointment before school begins to assess your child’s asthma control. They can list the current medication plan for your child while they assess asthma control. It may be necessary to change (step-up or step down) medications or dosages as the child grows or the severity of disease changes or control changes. Also ask them to complete a permission form to carry medication if appropriate.
Fill any new prescriptions. Check that all old inhalers are full and ask your physician for a spacer to use with them. Spacers increase the amount of medication actually inhaled so the benefits of the medications improve. New HFA propelled albuterol inhalers act differently. Get an extra peak flow meter to keep at school; use labels to mark all medications and devices with your child’s name.
Make an appointment with your child’s new teacher and give them the new action plan and permission form. Here’s a tip: these forms are kept in the nurse’s office; attach a small photo of your child to each form. Ask your child if they want to attend this meeting: it may empower them. At this meeting, discuss your child’s asthma or allergies with their teacher. Clarify what the teacher knows about asthma and allergies. Discuss your child’s triggers; if you feel your child is too young to handle their own meds at school, ask where medications will be kept – and how the child accesses them so everyone feels safe and empowered. Develop an emergency plan with the teacher and nurse and make sure the teacher knows how and when to use asthma devices if the nurse isn’t available to help. Discuss how exercise and emotions affect the disease and perhaps your child’s actions. This is also a good time to discuss any side effects asthma or allergy medications or the disease itself might have for your child. Some medications may make the kids hyper and others may make them drowsy. It’s best that the teacher is aware that what might be considered a behavioral problem is actually a reaction to medications. Discuss the most appropriate way to deal with any of these side effects.