My daughter was a severe asthmatic. When she went to Grade 1, I was afraid to leave her. I spent much of my time worrying about how she would do at school and hoping she would ask for help when she needed it.

Some of the older children teased her about her inability to catch her breath. They mocked her because of her constant cough. Even some parents asked why I didn’t take her to the doctor.

Asthma action plan

With the school nurse’s help, I developed an asthma action plan for emergencies – a plan that helps teachers and staff know how to best help a child. The plan included whom to call and what to do in case of an emergency.

Awareness and understanding

Then I talked with my daughter’s teacher. We explored ways to teach her classmates about what she had to live through every day. We decided I should explain my daughter’s condition to the class and answer their questions. I wanted them to understand that my daughter may need their help if she was unable to talk or catch her breath.

I visited the classroom and brought my daughter’s nebulizer and inhaler. I explained how she had trouble breathing and sometimes needed to take special medicine kept in the nurse’s office.

I also explained that they could not catch what she had. If her cheeks turned white or if she made a funny noise when she breathed, though, they should notify the teacher. Her classmates had a lot of questions.

Compassionate response

A few years have passed since my discussion with the children. New classmates have come and gone. However, the children still remember that my daughter has asthma.

I still get phone calls, sometimes from children, when she is having a difficult time breathing or if she needs me to bring her inhaler because she doesn’t have it with her.

By teaching her classmates, I found that they were more compassionate to her and more capable of being there for her when she needed them the most.

From Focus on Your Child’s Discovery Years, January 2007, Vol. 5, No. 1. Published by Focus on the Family. © 2006 Focus on the Family. All rights reserved. International copyright secured. Used by permission.

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