Licensed social workers Melissa T. Korenblat-Hanin and Jennifer Moyer Darr spoke to healthcare professionals about the psychosocial impact of asthma. An asthma diagnosis can be devastating to children on psychological and social levels. Suddenly they hear that they're not supposed to exercise or play too hard, that they're not supposed to get too hot or too cold, and maybe even that they have to get rid of their favorite pet. A great sense of loss can accompany a childhood asthma diagnosis, and it's important that someone asks the child, ‘How are you handling this?’ That's what social workers do best, sometimes by asking the child to draw their asthma.
I vividly remember two children's drawings from the educational session: One showed an asthma monster strangling a child who was all alone. The other showed a similar monster – but this time the child was with his family, and the father held up a large umbrella that protected the whole family from the looming asthma monster.
And that brings up an important message: Asthma is a family problem, not an individual problem. Asthmatic children who have support from family and friends are much more likely to deal with their disease appropriately. Children without proper support are prone to non-compliance with medication, poor symptom perception, anger, mistrust, sleep problems, self-esteem issues, and feelings of guilt and isolation. Asthmatic children without a solid support network are also more likely to die from the disease.