The beginning of the school year is an exciting time filled with so many new possibilities. At the same time, for a parent whose child suffers from asthma or allergies, this type of change and transition can be quite stressful, and at times, downright scary.
You know how to care for you child and manage his or her allergies at home. However, sending your child off into a new environment filled with potential allergens and triggers can feel overwhelming. There are so many unknowns. Questions swirl through your mind about the preparedness of your child’s teachers. Will they know what to do in the case of a reaction? How well equipped is the school nurse for such events? What measures have been taken to protect your child?
Allergens and triggers can hide in all sorts of places. Old carpeting and rugs are havens for dust mites. The cafeteria holds the potential for cross-contamination of food, not to mention treats brought in by other parents. Freshly mowed grass on the playground might set off a reaction. P.E. class can leave participants wheezing.
The Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA) and the asthma & allergy friendly™ Certification Program have put together a list of tips to ensure that your school year gets off to a great start.
1. Update your child’s health information for the school with explicit instructions.
2. Turn in a Child Asthma/Allergy Action Card, which details triggers, medications and a plan of action.
3. Clearly label all of your child’s medications.
4. Obtain a written letter from your child’s doctor that states allergens as well as precautions.
5. Meet with your child’s teachers, nurse, principal and cafeteria workers, if applicable, to discuss concerns as well as any needed accommodations.
6. Converse with your child about his or her responsibility to identify symptoms and ask for help.
7. Instruct your child to take his or her medicine at the right time as well as not to share personal items or even snacks with other classmates.
Remember that caring for your child is a collaborative team effort; don’t be afraid to enlist the help of others.