May is Asthma Awareness Month—a perfect time to raise awareness about asthma and how it affects millions of people in the United States. Asthma is a serious, sometimes life-threatening respiratory disease that affects the quality of life for millions of Americans. Although there is no cure for asthma yet, asthma can be controlled through medical treatment and management of environmental triggers.
In the United States alone, almost 7 million children have asthma, which is one of the most common serious chronic diseases of childhood. In addition, asthma is a leading cause of hospital emergency department visits and school absenteeism. Asthma is the third-ranking cause of hospitalization among children under 15. Additionally, an average of one out of every 10 school-aged children has asthma. Asthma continues to be a rapidly growing public health problem.
Asthma has a significant impact on the learning of our children. 13 million school days are missed each year due to asthma. This can be a real issue for school districts as they work to increase student achievement. School districts face the ever increasing challenge of making sure school buildings are healthy for all students, especially those with asthma. Research by the Environmental Protection Agency and other groups has shown that dust mites, molds, cockroaches, pet dander, and secondhand smoke trigger asthma attacks. In many of our old school buildings, school administration must work tirelessly to ensure they are addressing the needs of students with asthma.
On a day to day basis the school nurse frequently plays a key role in helping students manage asthma in the school setting. If significant needs arise, regional specialists at the SW/WC Service Cooperative are available to assist the schools special education teams by:
· working with school teams to review medical and educational reports and records to determine how and if asthma is impacting student learning,
· classroom observation and assessment of students with more severe chronic/acute health impairments,
· consultation with school staff regarding strategies and accommodation options to improve function and reduce impact of health condition on learning, and
· identification of resources and materials to increase knowledge and awareness regarding asthma’s impact on learning and functioning.
· helping students understand asthma (i.e. Our resource library has several very good books for students and classmates “Taking Asthma to School” and a in comic book format, “Captain Bio – Clearing the Air”.)