Diabetes And Your Child's School
Submitted by: Vivian L. Brennan
If your child has diabetes, it is probably type 1 diabetes, which means that your child is insulin-dependent. Even if your child has type 2 diabetes, you will want to tell the school so that your child is supported during their learning process. You want your child to get the most of their education, and that means helping to make sure that your child gets the proper care at school.
1. Meet with the School
You will want to have a meeting with your child’s teacher, every year. This will probably take about 30 minutes to an hour to discuss the teacher’s questions and your child’s needs. Bring along information about diabetes. There are even pamphlets on diabetes aimed at teachers that you can bring with you.
Your child’s teacher is going to wonder, “Do I have to give insulin treatments?” The answer is that no, teachers are not responsible for giving injections. Many children manage their diabetes without ever getting insulin injections at school. Others get their injections at school, and are supervised by the teacher while they do this.
Help the teacher understand the blood glucose monitoring system that your child uses. It might be helpful to create a chart that explains what the different levels of blood glucose are, and what action should be taken for each one.
It is important to determine what policies the school has in place for diabetics. If there are no pre-existing policies, you can help your child’s school create thoughtful and inclusive policies.
2. Ally yourself with the Teacher
Especially with younger school-aged children, they might not understand the importance of eating their regular snacks. Ask the teacher to help remind your child to eat these snacks.
Your child’s teacher is the best person to observe your child during the day. A common occurrence for children with diabetes is that they develop low blood sugar before lunch. Have the teacher monitor your child to see if there are patterns of lethargy that should be noted and altered (possibly with an extra snack). The teacher can help remind the child to do blood testing as well.
3. Prepare your child
Before your child goes to school, be sure that they understand diabetes. You will want them to know what their responsibilities are.
Remember that as your child grows up, you are transferring the responsibility of monitoring and regulating their own blood sugar from your hands to their hands. During this transition period, you might find that your child makes a mistake, and occasionally misses snacks. This is a normal part of the growing up experience. Help your child overcome these mistakes, but allow your child to make these mistakes in the first place.
Consider getting a medic alert bracelet for your child, or similar piece of identification that explains that they have diabetes so that emergencies can be averted or cared for properly.
4. Help pack the lunch.
When your child is young, you will probably be the one packing their lunch to take to school. Be sure to pack extra snacks in case your child gets low blood sugar at school. Or leave some extra snacks with the teacher if you are worried that your child would eat them all at once. Pack some snacks that are quick to eat, such as carrot sticks instead of an apple, so that your child won’t have to
5. Know your rights.
Even though your child is diabetic, your child has a right to participate in every athletic event, field trip, and class outing that is planned. Your child has a right to monitor their blood sugar when necessary, and to eat snacks when they are needed. Your child also has a right to free access to water and to the bathroom. Your child will also be allowed to take as much time as necessary to eat the needed snacks. These rights are mandated by federal law in Canada, and by state law in the United States. If you feel these rights are being violated, begin by contacting your teacher to discuss how you can solve the situation. If this does not work, speak to your school principal, and take it further if necessary. Most times diabetes education will help the school meet your and your child’s needs.
The teachers, facilitators, and administration all want your child to succeed in school. Help them by giving them the salient information about diabetes. This can be an experience in ongoing education for you, your child, and the school staff. Let your child help in this education. If your child wants to do a presentation or project on diabetes, encourage them to share their knowledge. If your child prefers to keep quiet about diabetes, respect that right as well.
About the Author: Vivian Brennan is an editor of The Guide to Diabetes. For tips on how to deal with diabetes at any age or stage, check out the The Guide to Diabetes.
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