While a lot of attention is given to solutions and proactive steps for dealing with allergies, asthma, and other problems related to environmental issues, we often neglect the social aspects of living with these health issues. For children with allergies, asthma, or similar symptoms, these daily struggles can be even more frustrating. On top of avoiding environmental triggers and keeping an epi pen or inhaler handy, many young allergy- and asthma-sufferers are also tasked with explaining these flare-ups to friends, teachers, and even other parents.
Luckily, there are resources to help you talk to your children about allergies and asthma in fun, creative ways, as well as how to be considerate of those dealing with these issues. For example, Taking Asthma to School by Kim Gosselin is actually written for children without asthma to help them understand asthmatic students and what happens when they get occasional shortness of breath. This illustrated book also contains “Ten Tips for Teachers” and a fun quiz.
Rowena Cala takes a more whimsical approach to allergy discussions in her book, Gia and Lincoln’s Aggravating Allergies. In this tale, a friendship blossoms between a lion who feels isolated from others due to a food allergy and a Gia, a helpful monkey, who eventually learns that she is allergic to lions and their fur. Rather than saying goodbye, Gia and Lincoln find ways to adjust to make their special friendship work despite their differences.
Along with helping children deal with their differences and be more considerate of one another, stories like these from Mitchell and Cala are great jumping off points for bigger discussions about the need for clean, healthy air and how it affects everyone, not just those with allergies and asthma. Clean Air Kids is a great resource, as well, for games, puzzles, and other fun activities focused on increasing air quality awareness.
What are some of the unique ways that you are opening up conversations about allergies, asthma, and air quality with your children and family?