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Is Your Child’s School Ready for Diabetes?

separator According to the National Association of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Disorders, diabetes is one of the most common chronic diseases in school-age children. It affected an estimated 176,500 children in 2005. About one in every 400 to 600 people under age 20 has type 1 diabetes. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 13,000 young people are diagnosed with diabetes each year.


The National PTA has become concerned as well, and has recommended that all school personnel receive general training about diabetes and that two staff members per school obtain more specific information about diabetes, emergencies that can occur when someone has diabetes and symptoms of low blood sugar (hypoglycemia)


It can be a worry when you send your child who has diabetes to school, especially if your child was recently diagnosed with diabetes and everything is still new. Here are some planning recommendations.


Diabetic Kids and School: Planning and Communication are the Keys


Determining the best way to handle your child's school schedule and diabetes care depends on your child's age, health status and personality. Whatever the age of your child, you should be sure that teachers, coaches and the school nurse, among others, know that your child has diabetes. At the beginning of each school year, it is a good idea to have a meeting with personnel who interact with your child so that you can discuss a care plan together. By meeting each year, you can ensure that teachers know which aspects of the care plan your child is able to perform for him or herself, how well your child recognizes symptoms of hypoglycemia, and anything else that changes from year to year. Some of the things you will need to talk about with school personnel include:


·  When to test blood glucose and take insulin or other medication

· The need for regular meal and snack times

· Preferred foods

· Usual symptoms of hypoglycemia and preferred treatments

· When and how to notify parents about problems

· When and how to contact your child's health care provider


Some children may feel shy and self-conscious about having a condition that makes them feel different from other kids. These feelings are normal. While you want to encourage them not to be secretive about having diabetes, and not to feel ashamed in any way, it is best not to force them to do anything that makes them feel uncomfortable. Teachers should be sensitive to the need for discretion too.


Teenagers with diabetes can pose a special challenge. The teen years can be turbulent, and teens more than anyone else want to be just like their peers. Their new independence and busier schedules make it more difficult to fit diabetes care into their routines, and sticking with their food plan is harder than ever. Some teens may become a bit rebellious about their diabetes care, so school personnel should know to watch for signs that a diabetic teen is experiencing difficulty.


Guiding your diabetic child through the school years will go most smoothly with lots of support and communication.

National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Disorders; Robin Wilson, Personal Interview
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