What is an Advocate?
An advocate is someone who shows unwavering support for a person or cause. Sometimes, advocating involves acting or speaking on another’s behalf. Other times, it simply means showing support.
You might find yourself advocating for your child at school, at the doctor’s office, or even in social situations. The most important thing is that your child knows that they can count on you to speak up on their behalf.
Battles Faced by Children with Asthma
The challenges faced by children with asthma are all over the spectrum. Let’s consider some social, physical, and emotional battles they may have to fight.
1. Doctor’s Visits
Nothing interrupts the life of a normal child like frequent visits to the doctor’s office. Whether it’s being pulled from school for a checkup or being rushed in after an attack, doctor visits can be stressful for children.
Don’t be afraid to ask your child’s doctor questions. If you feel uncomfortable with the treatment plan, speak up, and if necessary, ask for a second opinion. Keep abreast of new asthma treatments and know the risks associated with each.
Consider a portable spirometer to help you monitor your child’s lung health and empower your child to act as their own advocate.
2. Fear of Triggering an Asthma Attack
Individuals who suffer from severe asthma constantly worry about asthma triggers. This makes enjoying even the simplest things difficult. The best way to deal with this fear is to identify your child’s primary asthma triggers.
Logging your child’s lung health and keeping an Asthma Diary will give both of you insight that can help you know when you may have to say “no.” Advocating for your asthmatic child may mean speaking with teachers or sports coaches. If you have seen that a certain activity leads to an increased risk of an asthma attack, then make that known to those leaders.
3. Feeling Left Out
Because they have to stay on guard against triggers and attacks, children can feel isolated or lonely at school. Whether it’s skipping P.E. or outdoor recess, it can be difficult to overcome the feeling of being different.
Speak with school officials and see if there are alternate activities for your child where they will feel included. Look for extracurricular activities that are both social and asthma-friendly.
How Can You Advocate for a Child with Asthma?
Remember that the most important thing you can do for your child with asthma is to be there for them. Asthma can be a scary thing to navigate, especially when it’s brand new to a child.
1. Teach your child about asthma
It is impossible to fight against something you know nothing about. Take the time to explain to your child how asthma affects their body and how medication helps.
2. Place them in asthma-friendly environments
Don’t be afraid to speak to your child’s teacher, principal, friends’ parents, etc. about asthma. This encourages an asthma-friendly mindset that sets your child at ease at home, in the classroom, and with friends.
3. Raise asthma awareness
Many people remain ignorant of the effects of asthma, not because they do not care, but simply because they have never dealt with it. Try to raise asthma awareness in those you encounter. Be polite and friendly, but encourage others to be sensitive to the needs of asthmatics.
4. Focus on asthma maintenance.
While there is no cure for asthma, you can manage it. Help your child watch for triggers, symptoms, and correlations between attacks. Log information, and communicate regularly with your child’s doctor.