Can Kids Carry Inhalers At School?

This is a big one for me. In Michigan, kids are allowed to carry asthma medicine.1 They are allowed to use it when needed, and be in charge of their asthma management in schools. It’s the law. And this is how I think it should be in every state and every country. It’s common sense.

Ten-year-old kids know when they are short of breath. They know when they need their rescue medicine. If they need it, they should have it in their possession.

My asthma management in school

This is how it was with me as a kid. I had severe asthma and I was also very shy. In fact, so much so that I actually think I had social anxiety disorder. I was afraid even to raise my hand in class. I was severely reticent, especially around large groups of people. This would include classrooms where I was surrounded by my friends.

It’s just how I was. There was no changing it. The teacher could make things easy for us kids. They can say it’s okay to raise our hands if we have the question. It’s okay to raise our hands if we need to use the bathroom. Feel free to let me know if there’s anything you need. You could have the nicest teacher in the world. And I just wouldn’t raise my hand -- ever.

And when I needed to go to the bathroom, I’d sit and wait for the bell to ring. I would not raise my hand. And this was true of my asthma too. I would sit and tough it out until the bell rang. Then I’d reach into my pocket, grab my inhaler, take 2 puffs, and I’d feel better.

Some kids don’t have it so easy

Some parents think they know what’s best for kids. They make rules or laws requiring parents to give rescue inhalers to school nurses, and only the nurse can have this inhaler. This makes it so kids with asthma have to raise their hands and are forced to stand out. I don’t like that.

I read stories about kids getting in trouble for using inhalers. I read stories about nice kids going to jail because they let another kid use their inhaler.2 Stupid! That’s just plain stupid. A girl should not have to fear helping someone.

I read stories about kids dying because teachers confiscate their rescue inhalers.3 Stupid! Just plain stupid!

My daughter also has asthma

My daughter is just like me. She is very shy. Heck, in the first grade she peed her pants once. I realized it when she got home from school. She said she was afraid to raise her hand. This was the case even when the teacher specifically told the kids they could go to the bathroom any time they wanted. All they had to do was raise their hands, but it didn’t matter. My daughter was not going to raise her hand.

So, do you think this little girl will ask for an inhaler if an adult had it? No! It would not. Even if she knew what to do. Even if she was educated. And my daughter is very educated. She knows what asthma is. She knows rescue medicine makes her better. But, she will not ask a teacher if she can use her inhaler.

So, if she needs it. She has it in her possession. She can use it when she wants, and that's how it should be everywhere.

Let's educate, not confiscate

Parents need to be educated about asthma management in schools, and so do teachers. So does anyone else who might be around asthmatic kids. This is where school asthma action plans come into play. This is where asthma awareness comes into play.

Teachers should be taught which kids have asthma and should be able to recognize the signs. With some kids, the signs may be subtle. It may be extreme shyness. It may be eyes that drift away from the teacher. It may be a sniffling and sneezing. It may be wiping at a runny nose or coughing. Coughing is a big one.

So, teachers can certainly help asthmatic kids. They can know what actions to take should they spot an asthma attack. This is how school asthma action plans can help. But, let’s not take the child out of the equation. Let’s allow them to keep their inhalers on them if they are age-appropriate.

My daughter is smart. All kids are smart and can be educated. They can be taught when and how to use their medicine. They can learn this at a very young age. Sure, when they are little, an adult should have the inhaler. However, at that certain age, there’s no reason they can’t have their own inhaler. And I certainly think 10 years old is a good age here. That’s how old I was when I carried an inhaler at school.

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