It Takes a Village to Raise a Child with Asthma
Tips to Build a Community of Asthma Advocates
(July 22, 2015)
Controlling even the most severe asthma is possible with the right treatment and management plan in place, as well as a trained support network. The responsibility for caring for a child with asthma shouldn’t fall to the family or child alone, that’s why the American Lung Association has developed free educational tools to help build a community of support for children with asthma.
While asthma is a manageable disease, when poorly controlled, it has a direct impact on a child’s classroom attendance and can affect academic success. In 2008, for example, asthma accounted for 10.5 million lost school days, making it a leading cause of school absences from a chronic disease. Close to 7 million children in the U.S. experience asthma symptoms. Of those, 4 million experienced an asthma episode which is an indicator of poor control.
Expanding the Safety Net
The safety net for these children shouldn’t end when they step away from their parents. It takes a village to raise a child, and it takes a community to support every child with asthma. To start, the child’s daily “community” must be educated. This means everyone from school administrators, teachers and nurses to soccer coaches, music teachers and peers. Why so many? Because while not everyone suffers from asthma, anyone can save a life.
Parents and schools can work together to reduce both the number of asthma-related absences and asthma emergencies through the American Lung Association’s Asthma-Friendly Schools Initiative (AFSI). The goal of AFSI is to keep children with asthma healthy, in school and ready to learn. AFSI offers a comprehensive approach for communities and schools to work together on asthma management. This approach is based on expert advice and best practices from across the nation, and is built on a structured planning process that includes coalition building, community wide input, action planning and ongoing support.
More Tools to Stay Healthy
The more you know about asthma, the easier it is to control symptoms and stay healthy. Asthma Basics a free, online learning module from the American Lung Association, teaches people with asthma and caregivers including school personnel how to recognize and manage asthma triggers, as well as how to respond to a breathing emergency.
Empowering children to learn about their asthma triggers, symptoms and medicines helps them better manage their own disease, be active and healthy. Children, even elementary-aged, can learn asthma self-management skills and the steps to use asthma medication correctly. For more than 25 years, the American Lung Association’s has been teaching kids about asthma through Open Airways For Schools®. Each year, we empower approximately 10,000 elementary-aged children to prevent or reduce asthma symptoms by knowing and avoiding asthma triggers, understanding their asthma medicines, and the steps to take when they experience symptoms.
To tell if a child is prepared to self-carry a quick-relief inhaler, the Lung Association offers the Student Readiness Assessment Tool, which parents can use and share with a school nurse or healthcare provider.
To help ensure that students with asthma have immediate access to quick relief medication, schools should consider stocking quick-relief medicine through standing orders. Check to see if your school has a Stock Bronchodilator (Quick-Relief Medication) Policy in place, and if not, encourage them to do so by sharing this model policy. Getting to know your school nurse and speaking to them about your child’s asthma management plan will help make the transition back to school easier, and help keep your child healthier throughout the school year.
Is Your School an Asthma Friendly Champ?
If your school or school district has made significant progress in making your school environment “asthma friendly,” it may qualify for the Lung Association’s Asthma-Friendly Champion Award. Share the AFSI Champion Award application with your school.
Searching for Cure and Treatments
Did you know that the American Lung Association conducts research every day to find improved treatments for asthma? Our Airways Clinical Research Centers Network (ACRC) are the largest is the nation's largest not-for-profit network of clinical research centers dedicated to asthma and COPD treatment research, attracting some of the best investigators worldwide. The ACRC Network conducts large clinical trials that will have a direct impact on patient care and asthma treatment.