A Very Special Asthma Story

BY ON June 12, 2013
Two children swinging

Eliana Tardio’s children.

This post is written by Eliana Tardio:

A couple of months ago, my son spent four days in the hospital after having a really bad asthma attack. It was tough watching him breathe through an oxygen mask for days, worrying about his health and well-being. Not everyone experiences having a child with a special medical condition, so not everyone realizes how hard it is to consider the possibility of not finding a cure for your child. For me, I work daily at prevention for the betterment of my son and to increase his quality of life.

My son does not only have asthma, his primary diagnosis is actually Down syndrome. He’s already 9 years old, and over the course of these years, I have learned to understand and accept his extra chromosome. His appearance, his IQ and his speech challenges are not important to me anymore. I have overcome judgment from others. Every time I look at him, I feel blessed to be able to see all the great things he has achieved, instead of complaining or feeling upset for the things he is not yet able to accomplish, or the goals he may never reach. I feel proud of his great development and I know I’m a vital part of it.

With asthma, the situation is totally different. No matter how good I am, or how well I take care of him, asthma always comes back. Asthma affects and limits the lives of millions of people in the US, but it hits even harder when a child has special needs.

When you raise one or more children with special needs, some days you don’t want for anything other than seeing your children healthy. It’s not an easy task to understand that there are things you will never be able to change, no matter how hard you work on them. And even knowing is not your fault, when an asthma attack strikes, you may not be able to avoid asking yourself: What did I do wrong?

Having a child with asthma has taught me something very important — prevention is the key. While I know I will not be able to keep my child from suffering another asthma attack, there are steps I can take to reduce his risk. These steps can literally save his life and keep us out of the ER. Prevention gives me the power I need to empower myself, and not let asthma become a scary enemy that controls or limits our already compromised future.

Here are 10 ways we deal with my son’s asthma:

  1. We use washable pillows that can be cleaned by setting the washing machine on a gentle cycle. I wash pillows covers and sheets every week.
  2. With young kids at home, I buy fabrics that are machine-washable and easy to clean.
  3. Hard floors work best. It’s almost impossible to have a clean carpet with kids and pets.
  4. Once a week, we deep clean and dust the house, avoiding chemicals and cleaning products that may become hazardous to my family.
  5. We open the windows at least once a week since getting fresh air is a great idea for everyone.
  6. Dusting the blinds and opening the curtains makes a positive difference in the air my family breathes.
  7. We keep the air conditioner running at 75 degrees to keep our house fresh and free of moisture due to condensation.
  8. Sometimes, it becomes necessary to use medication for prevention: A simple cold can generate inflammation in my kid’s lungs. I have learned the importance of starting respiratory treatments as prevention to avoid future complications.
  9. I’m not scared anymore about keeping up with our regular routine for getting exercise. We use medication to prevent shortness of breath.
  10. We empower my son to keep doing his best while working out in order to obtain healthier and stronger lungs.

I’ve found these tips very helpful. They may or may not work for everyone, but keeping indoor air clean has been the best medicine for my little asthma sufferer.


eliana tardio headshotEliana Tardío is the mother of Emir & Ayelén, two kids with Down syndrome who has turned her life into a great experience of personal growth. She works as a Family Resource and Marketing Specialist for the Early Steps Program of  Southwest Florida. Named as one of the top 100 mom bloggers in the country by Babble and one of the 7 most inspirational Latina Moms by Café Moms, Eliana writes in English and Spanish about the triumphs and challenges of raising two kids with special needs.


TOPICS: Asthma, Motherhood