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Diabetes and Your Child's School

If you have a school-aged youngster with type 1 diabetes, you are already educating him or her in ways to live comfortably with the condition. But equally important, you want to be sure that school personnel — teachers, nurse, bus driver, lunchroom workers — are also informed of your child's special health needs.

At the beginning of each new school year, have a talk with the school nurse and with the teacher. Tell them as best you can what level of responsibility your child can reliably handle in monitoring blood sugar and insulin during the school day. Between the ages of 7 and 12 youngsters become increasingly able to manage routine self-care. Adolescents will almost certainly want to do so.

Talk to the teacher
Discuss how your child's needs can be met within existing school regulations.

  • Will they allow the necessary snacks in class?
  • Where and by whom will routine blood tests be run? What about insulin injections?
  • And if your child senses a problem coming on, how should your child alert the teacher? If he/she is experiencing a severe insulin reaction for which the usual sugar treatment is not sufficient, who in the school is prepared to administer glucagon?
  • If your older child is participating in strenuous sports, such as track, football, or basketball, what special provisions need be made before, during, and after the activity? A separate discussion with the coach is warranted in such circumstances, and perhaps a change in insulin dosage, too.

With your child's participation, you may also want to explore with the teacher or school counselor how much your child's classmates can be told about the condition. Children are bound to be curious about, and possibly frightened by, a condition that is treated in a hush-hush manner. Many authorities recommend open discussion in the classroom.

Notes from home
The Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation urges you to draft a simple one-page care guide for school personnel. Customize the guide with specifics to fit your child, and print several copies. Ask that one be posted in your child's classroom, preferably near the teacher's desk, where even a substitute teacher will be sure to see it. Give additional copies to others who deal with your child in school.
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