Like a lot of people these days, my kids are sneezing up a storm from spring airborne allergies. And, for my older son: this often means an increase in his asthma. As if the sniffling wasn’t bad enough!
After his first spring asthmatic reaction in school (a doozy – the kind that he hasn’t had in a long time!), we had a chat. Knowing my son and his proclivity for following classroom rules, I assumed correctly that my son was trying to wait until his lesson was over to let his teacher know he was wheezing. That won’t do! Not only is wheezing the first symptom of asthma, but can also be a symptom for a food allergy reaction. We had to re-emphasize the importance of reporting to adults even if it means interrupting them or demanding their attention.
My husband and I told him that one of the FEW exceptions to following the school and classroom rules is when you don’t feel well. “If you are wheezing, you need to tell the teacher right away – even if she’s talking or teaching the class. If you are at recess, find an adult in charge and tell THEM right away.” We very calmly expanded the lesson to include food allergy symptoms, “If your belly feels sick, if you have hives or an itchy throat, you must also tell an adult right away. Even if those feelings aren’t really bothering you yet. It’s important to let the nurse see what’s going on so you can get back to playing!”
Thankfully, my son digested this lesson very well. Since this chat, he’s been speaking up and heading to the nurse to get a puff of his inhaler as needed. Not only does it empower him, but it helps keep his wheezing from escalating to a full-blown asthma attack.
Our hope is that calmly and gently teaching kids to recognize signs of asthma and allergic reactions will make them feel in control and ultimately help protect them.