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Can Your Child Carry a Quick-Acting Inhaler?


The issue of whether or not a child is allowed to self-carry a rescue inhaler at school is a point of contention for many parents of asthmatic students.

Student Rights


According to the Allergy and Asthma Foundation of Americaevery single state in America has enacted legislation to allow students to self-carry a fast-acting or "rescue inhaler" at school in case of an asthma flare-up. Click here to reference your state's legislation on this topic.


The American Journal of Public Health reports that students with asthma have rights and protections under several important pieces of legislation, including the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, and Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

How to Work with the School


There are several steps parents can take to work with their schools and make sure that there is a plan in place to deal with asthma flare-ups. The Asthma Network notes that the best ways to do this include:


  • Knowing the pertinent state law in regards to self-carrying and being aware of rights under federal law.
  • Assessing the child with the Student Readiness Assessment developed by the American Lung Association. This is an online tool to determine the student's ability to understand asthma, recognize the symptoms of a flare-up and properly self-administer a quick-acting inhaler.
  • Meeting with the school nurse and/or school administration to develop an asthma action plan; this should include the medication a child is using, the circumstances under which a child should self-administer, and emergency contact information for parents. Many schools will require this plan to be signed off by the child's doctor. This plan needs to be shared with the child's teachers, coaches and other involved staff.


In short, allowing a child with asthma to self-carry when they are in school can be a complicated issue. However, in many cases, open communication between the school, parents and physician can help to develop a plan to support the unique needs of an asthmatic student and ensure a healthy, nurturing environment in which students can flourish.

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