A child with asthma is eligible for special education, according to the Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act of 2004 (IDEA). Some parents don’t realize that their son or daughter with asthma can receive special accommodations in the classroom to help him or her have a better experience in school. “Special Education” does not only apply to children with learning disabilities and developmental delays. Children with chronic illnesses also have the right to receive an education in an environment that is sympathetic to their needs.
Here are ten accommodations which can be made in the classroom to help your asthmatic child succeed in school:
- Teachers and administrators should be trained to correctly dispense medication and look for signs of illness or adverse reactions. Don’t send your elementary school-aged child to school, expecting him to manage his medications and symptoms without help. Make a special appointment to meet with the teacher and give instructions and training.
- A special show and tell could be given, where the child is able to explain his medical condition to the class, tell the story of his diagnosis, explain what living with asthma is like, etc. He could show the class his inhaler and explain how it works. A show and tell could educate the class and help them be more sympathetic. Care should be taken to show that the child has hobbies and interests just like his/her peers.
- The student’s class schedule could be adapted, taking into consideration times for medication doses, so the child has to miss the least amount of class as possible.
- Rest periods should be provided for the child.
- The classroom should be cleared of any potential allergens, such as aromatic paints, lotions, cologne, hay, etc. Letters or fliers should go home to parents of all the child’s classmates, informing them that due to student allergies (no need to single out the child or use names), children should not come to school wearing perfumes or carrying flowers or other potential allergens.
- An emergency plan should be created, with specific contact numbers listed and a strategy in place in the event of asthma attacks or other potential medical problems.
- Assistance should be provided in the classroom or in the school office to help the child with inhalant therapy.
- A peer tutor, or several, could be assigned in the classroom to help the child with carrying books and could also be told to periodically watch for signs like shortness of breath or other symptoms.
- The teacher could be more lenient with assignment deadlines when legitimate medical problems cause absences.
- Physical education instructors should be made aware of the child’s condition and should find ways to adapt games or activities with the asthma in mind. Activity levels could be adapted.
If your child with asthma is struggling in school, it’s time to take a closer look. Perhaps the asthma, or how it’s being handled, is contributing to the difficulties in some way. Schedule an appointment immediately with your child’s teacher and discuss these adaptations, which are your child’s right.
Kristyn Crow is the author of this blog. Visit her website by clicking here. Some links on this blog may have been generated by outside sources are not necessarily endorsed by Kristyn Crow.