Students experience a mix of emotions when starting a new school year. In order to succeed, they need to feel safe first and foremost. Achieving this requires collaboration and education. And like everything else you’ve already tackled as a diabetes parent, you can manage this challenge, too!
Know Your Rights
Children with diabetes should be able to participate in the entire school experience. It is important to remember that the child has the right to check his/her blood sugar levels and treat a low blood sugar in the classroom if it occurs. There are laws protecting the rights of children with diabetes – Section 504 plan, Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Individuals with Disabilities Act (IDEA). A 504 Plan or a Diabetes Medical Management Plan (DMMP) will outline the diabetes care that the child requires at school.
Address the Specific Needs of Your Child
It is vital that the school be provided with all of the necessary information, equipment and emergency contact numbers to address any situation that may arise. The DRI’s Education Team has helped create an eight-page diabetes guide for teachers and other school employees that features need-to-know information about the disease and how it is controlled, plus clear instructions on how to handle emergency situations, such as an insulin reaction. Most importantly, the brochure includes a diabetes management form that can be personalized for each child and stored for at-a-glance solutions. Please contact us for free hard copies.
Build Confidence with a Classroom Presentation
The last thing a child wants to feel is “different” to his or her peers. There may not be any other child in the class or school with diabetes, perhaps making them feel very isolated. Education of the child, parents, school staff and students about diabetes can help make the child feel less different and more confident at school. Try giving a classroom presentation. You can also download this helpful handout about Explaining Diabetes to Kids.
Avoid Potential Problems
It is important that the child feels that he/she can tell their teachers and peers about what is happening to them or how they feel. If the child senses a fear amongst teachers and peers, they may not open up, leading to a potentially serious situation. The school has a responsibility to be able to address the needs of the child, including:
Knowledge of the symptoms and treatment of low and high blood glucose
•Perform a finger stick blood glucose
•Take the appropriate action outlined in the Diabetes Medical Management Plan (DMMP)
•Administer insulin and glucagon if required
•Provide information on foods served at the school
•Allow the child to stick to their eating plan
•Provide the child permission to attend required medical visits, have a snack when necessary, monitor their blood sugar levels, take a bathroom break, and see the school nurse if required.
Your child’s health care team is also an excellent resource for parents and the school if there are any questions or concerns.
SOURCE: Education Team at the Diabetes Research Institute