Category Archives: diabetes in schools

Back to school with diabetes

Back to school with diabetes

Heading back to school can be stressful.  There are new books to buy.  Every child seems to need classroom shoes, gym shoes, walking to school shoes and then there are the gym clothes, jeans and more! The list is endless but when you are a parent of a child with diabetes, there list is longer.  Thankfully there are a few basics to remember when sending your child with diabetes back to school.

Meet with staff

No matter where you live, you should always make sure that you have a meeting with school staff before your child heads back to school.  If you live in an area that has 501 plans or any sort of diabetes care plans in place, this meeting can be where details are finalized.  If you don’t have any sort of official plans in your district, a meeting with staff is still important.

You want to meet with staff to discuss what they can expect when they have a child with diabetes in their school.  While your child may not be their first child with diabetes, each child’s care needs are different. It is important that they understand your child’s individual treatment plan.

At this meeting you will work together to establish roles.  Carefully outline what do you expect from the teacher and the support staff. Make sure that they understand what they can expect from you.  Finally,  ensure that everyone knows what tasks your child can do on their own.

You should also discuss things like, how will exams be handled?  It is important that school staff understand that  diabetes can cause cognitive impairment when the child is out of range.

You also want to establish a method of communication. The school  should understand that they can contact you and that you would like to be able to stay in touch with them.  Working together will make the year go smoother for everyone.

Click here for a few more ideas of what to take to this meeting.

Gather diabetes supplies.

 

 

Depending on the age of the child, the list of supplies that you require can be different.  A small child will require a change of clothes just in case he/she is high and has an accident in school.  An older child may require access to a phone or cell phone to ask you questions about their care.

Here are a few basic items that can be left in a backpack or put in a safe place at school.

  • juice boxes or glucose tablets
  • granola bars or other carb rich  and carb free snacks
  • spare test strips
  • meter batteries
  • pump batteries
  • a spare glucometer
  • extra needles or pen tips
  • spare insulin vial (to be kept in a fridge)
  • ketone meter and strips
  • spare infusion set
  • spare insulin reservoir
  • alcohol swabs
  • hand wash
  • water bottle
  • sharps disposal container
Other things to remember

If your schedule allows, volunteer to be a part of activities at school.  This will give you a chance to get to know school staff and they will learn a bit more about you.  It will also allow you to discreetly keep an eye on your child’s care without them feeling different.

For younger children, check to see if supports or nurses are available through your district.  The school may be entitled to extra funding that would allow them to have one on one care for your child for all or part of the day.

Make the year fun! Your child is a child first.  Plan ahead with staff regarding things like parties, extra curricular activities, outings and exams so that your child gets the most out of their school year.

For a guide to care policies in many Canadian schools please check out this link.

 

Making it a better school year

back to school with diabetes

Going back to school is a daunting task at the best of times.

There are new clothes that they will outgrow next month.  School supplies will be purchased that will not quite match the requirements of their particular teacher but you won’t know that until after the first day. You will have to pay for three new pairs of running shoes because they can’t wear street shoes in the classroom and they can’t wear classroom shoes in the gym.

Those chores are stressful enough but if you have a child with diabetes, that is only the beginning of the worries. Next is what should I  put in their diabetes kit for school? Where will that kit be kept? What sort of information should we provide for the teacher this year? What can I expect the teachers to do? Will they inject my child? Will they monitor his testing? What if she goes low? Will anyone care? How will we cope with the bus? Will they give out treats in school? What will happen when my child is high/low during an exam?

The list of worries for a parent of a child with diabetes going to school goes on and on. I went through these stresses when my son was in preschool until his very last day of high school. It doesn’t get any easier.  The worries simply change.  In kindergarten you wonder who will help with her testing.  In their pre-teen years, you wonder if the teacher will help remind him to test.  In their teens, you worry that the teacher will think that she is playing with her phone when she tests.

Despite the fact that the worry is still there, I will tell you that the systems have improved.  We now have provinces (see British Columbia, Quebec, New Brunswick and Newfoundland and Labrador) with some sort of guidelines for dealing with children with diabetes entering their schools.  While there is often a need to specialize plans and meet with the school staff for your particular child’s needs, this is a huge leap forward from provinces with no basic guidelines.

In other provinces, where provincial policies have not yet been agreed upon, most boards offer individual policies that range from talking about diabetes as a medical condition in school to dealing with specific diabetes related issues.

For those living in the US, you don’t have to worry about state policies or even specific school board policies.  All children with diabetes are covered by the American Disabilities Act and as long as they are in a public school, should have a 504 plan in place dictating their diabetes care.

No matter where you live, it is important that you keep an open and honest dialogue going with your child’s school.  The majority of teachers in the education system are there because they truly care for kids.  This means that they want to help you in any way that they can.  Ensure that you have a meeting with staff to discuss your child’s needs, what you can do to help make things better and the role that you expect educators to play.  Remember that they are just people who will also be overwhelmed by diabetes care. Make things as simple as possible and check to see if your area has access to a nurse to assist with younger children’s care.

As your child grows and becomes more independent, it is important for teachers to understand the behaviours of high and low blood glucose levels.  You don’t want them suspecting that your child is drunk when they are low.  You also don’t want an altercation to take place because they are high.

Going back to school can be overwhelming.  Going back to school with a child with diabetes seem worse.  Make sure that you…

~plan ahead

~set meetings with school staff

~create 504 or individual care plans were available

~leave information for supply teachers

~be available for questions and concerns that will arise during the year

~enjoy another successful year for your child…the time really does go by in a flash!

 

For further reference see:

Going to school with diabetes 

Things to Remember when sending a Child With Diabetes To School

School Bill of Rights for Every Child with Diabetes

CDA Position statement on Students Living with Diabetes at School

JDRF Children with diabetes in school

My Goal for the school year.

Its that time of year again.  New clothes have been purchased because he has outgrown “every pair of jeans” he owns…or so he claims.  Fancy scientific calculators have been bought to allow him to handle high school math and a pile of note books sit on the floor in his room waiting to be taken to school in the next day or two. 

School begins tomorrow in full force.  The bus arrives at 8am and he will be gone until close to 4pm.  We are lucky.  There is no change of schools.  There will be minimal change in teachers.  My son goes to a small but growing school.  His class size will be tiny.  His teachers have had two years to begin to understand his diabetes needs. I am not in a panic. 

My son will be 15 tomorrow. He carries his meter, glucose and spare supplies in his back pack.  There will be new expectations for grade 10 however.  I am hoping that this will be the year that he hits the ground running rather than sits on the sidelines for the first semester until his mother loses it, gets involved with the teachers and he pulls up his socks for the rest of the year. 

This will also be the year that I expect that little bit more when it comes to diabetes care.  I will be sending all of his teachers a reminder letter regarding my son’s needs and specific care.  I will also be demanding that my son actually write all bg readings ON his exams before he does any.  I would recommend this to students of any age. 

As parents, we want our children to do their very best.  As parents of children with diabetes, we have seen first hand how cognitively impaired they can be by a high or low blood glucose reading.  If I know my son studied for an exam and failed BUT had a low bg level before taking the exam, I know that the exam did not measure his true knowledge.  I can then work with the teacher to see what we can do to get a more accurate result. 

My son is not keen on testing in class.  He does not like drawing attention to himself. I have been asking him to write his readings on tests since he was in elementary school. It has been hit and miss at best.  This year, its the one thing that I really want him to get into the habit of doing. Its my care goal for the year.  Not a huge one but a big one for him–and an important one for his academic career! 

Happy first day of school everyone!!