Living with diabetes blog

Diabetes in school: Tips for parents

By Nancy Klobassa Davidson, R.N. and Peggy Moreland, R.N. October 27, 2011

According to the National Diabetes Education program, diabetes is one of the most common chronic diseases in school-aged children and affects about 200,000 young people in the United States alone. The American Diabetes Association states that one in 400 to 500 children and adolescents under 20 years of age have type 1 diabetes.

Last September, at the start of the school year, my 11-year-old nephew was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes. He attends a small, private school and the teachers weren't prepared to treat or assist a child with diabetes. My sister makes daily trips to the school to give him his insulin injection at mealtime. The little guy is slowly adjusting and is now able to test his own blood sugars.

Recently, my sister wrote down instructions for treating low blood sugar and put the instructions in his backpack. The instructions were for him. One morning he felt symptoms for low blood sugar and went to his teacher to ask for his blood glucose testing kit. She wouldn't give him the kit, and he became understandably upset. My sister was called and informed that the head of the school board told the teacher not to give him the kit until they studied the legalities. This board member then called and asked his parents to keep him home until they figured out all those legalities. This was upsetting to say the least! And I'm sure this family is not alone.

So, what are your child's rights at school? I did a search and found a few excellent websites that can be used as a resource for parents of children with diabetes.

  • The National Diabetes Education Program (ndep.nih.gov) has an excellent school guide called "Helping the Student with Diabetes to Succeed: A Guide for School Personnel" (ndep.nih.gov/media/Youth_NDEPSchoolGuide.pdf). Its purpose is to "educate school personnel about effective diabetes management and to share a set of practices that enable schools to ensure a safe learning environment for students with diabetes."
  • The Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation International (JDRF) is a "worldwide leader for research to cure type 1 diabetes" (www.jdrf.org). Their website provides information and tools to assist those with type 1 diabetes, including an online support community for those with type 1 diabetes (juvenation.org/p/juvenation_welcome.aspx). JDRF Kids Online is a special section of the website for children with type 1 diabetes and their peers (kids.jdrf.org).
  • Children with DIABETES is a website that promotes understanding of the care and treatment of diabetes in children (www.childrenwithdiabetes.com/d_0q_000.htm). Their mission is to increase awareness of the need for unrestricted diabetes care for children at school and daycare and to support families living with diabetes. They also help to promote understanding of research to cure diabetes.
  • The American Diabetes Association offers school staff training and support resources (www.diabetes.org/living-with-diabetes/parents-and-kids/diabetes-care-at-school/school-staff-trainings/training-resources.html).

Next week, I'll discuss specific guidelines to help education personnel work with children with diabetes. For those of you who have children with type 1 diabetes in school, what have you learned along the way?

Have a great week!

Peggy

Oct. 27, 2011