Jasmine was doing well when she was invited to sleep over at her friend Katelynn’s home. Jasmine’s mother didn’t know that Kate-lynn had a dog and a cat. At the time of the sleepover, Jasmine’s asthma was under good control. She was doing so well, in fact, that her mom forgot to tell Katelynn’s parents about her asthma and her allergy to dogs and cats.
Soon after arriving at Katelynn’s, Jasmine developed a stuffed-up, runny nose and began sneezing. With three other children visiting for the evening, Katelynn’s mother didn’t think much about it. She noticed that Jasmine was sneezing quite a bit, but she knew that several school friends had been passing colds around that week.
During the night, Jasmine coughed and wheezed so much that she woke herself up. She knew she was starting to have an asthma flare and called home. Her dad came and picked her up in the middle of the night. As soon as they got home, they started her asthma management plan and she improved quickly. But it was an embarrassing lesson for Jasmine — and a serious one for her parents. They decided that the next time she was invited to a party or a friend’s home, they would talk to the host family about possible triggers in their home. They would also give Jasmine medicine before going to the friend’s house, talk about possibly having the party at another location away from pets or other triggers, and would send medicine with a copy of her asthma management plan with her. Children with asthma want to sleep over at friends’ homes just like other children. In general, parents have to decide if the environment will be okay for them. Children shouldn’t be in a position of feeling sick but too embarrassed to tell anyone — a recipe for a serious flare. Some general guidelines include:
• The sleepover site should be “tobacco smoke free” and have no pets if your child is allergic to them.
• It will probably not be dust free, but you can send along a sleeping pallet (something as simple as a thin blanket or plastic sheet) in addition to her sleeping bag to create a barrier between your child and the carpet.
• Once you decide that she is allowed to sleep over, contact the adult in charge regardless of what your child says. Let your child know that this adult needs to be aware of how to help her if she starts having problems.
• Talk to your child about possible activities that may happen at the sleepover (like pillow fights that would produce clouds of dust). Also talk about where she would feel comfortable taking her medicines and when would be the best time. Encourage her to be open with her friends about having asthma.
• Make a pouch with her quick-relief medicines, her control medicines, and her asthma management plan.
• If it’s her first time staying at a new place, take the time to review the plan with the adult in charge. As your child gets older, she should be able to take on more responsibility to the point where she can manage her medicines independently. Let her know that ultimately the goal is for her to take control of her asthma.