In Australia, asthma affects up to one in 6 children. Asthma is a common reason for children being admitted to hospital and is a frequent cause of children missing school.
However, schools are now becoming more aware and better prepared when it comes to asthma. Australia's Federal Government launched an Asthma Friendly Schools programme in 2000. At the time of writing, just over half the schools in Australia were registered as ‘asthma friendly’.
Asthma-friendly schools actively support the whole school community in the management of asthma.
Criteria for accreditation as an Asthma Friendly School
Unfortunately, many children remain reluctant to use their puffers at school — it's just not ‘cool’. So what can the parent of a reluctant child with asthma do?
Firstly, see your child's doctor or specialist for an individualised written asthma action plan that takes into account any special needs that your child has.
Then use this checklist as a guide to help your child cope with their asthma at school — you may need to do more than the advice listed here, depending on the severity of your child's asthma. Consult your doctor to help you compile a checklist specifically for your child.
Asthma and school sport
Exercise is important for children's health, even though it can trigger asthma symptoms. Seek your doctor's advice if your child is getting a tight chest, breathlessness, cough or wheeze when they exercise. A thorough assessment is important to see whether asthma is causing the symptoms — if it is, your doctor can suggest ways to help control your child's asthma.
With an increasing number of high-profile athletes speaking out about having asthma, sport and exercise are actively being encouraged for children with asthma. This will help make these children less self-conscious about managing their asthma in public and encourage them to keep healthy and active.