Volume 28, Issue 2 (1999)
Learning Disorders Associated With Asthma and Allergies
Bruce G. Bender
Abstract: Asthma and allergic disorders are common childhood illnesses. Children with these conditions may experience problems in their adaptation to school and impediments to their learning. However, many of the learning problems attributed to these conditions have been overstated. Neither asthma nor allergies directly alter brain development or neuropsychological functioning. Anoxia, secondary to respiratory arrest, occurs only rarely. Medications used to treat asthma and allergic conditions may occasionally impact children’s ability to learn, although, for the most part, their effects are minimal. Similarly, the effects of chronic ear infections or of school absence are typically reversible when asthma and allergies become well-managed. More significant effects on children’s concentration and learning occur because of the sleep loss and general malaise that accompany these conditions. Reasonable efforts to provide at-home work for children during prolonged absences and to provide some catch-up support upon return to the classroom should, in most cases, be sufficient to allow children with these chronic illnesses to maintain their pace with classmates.
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