If you have a child with type 1 diabetes, you’ve heard the litany of myths and misconceptions that the general public associates with the disease. Cringeworthy comments like, “He’ll outgrow it,” and “Did you feed her too much sugar?” can cause any diabetes parent to become unglued.
The misunderstandings are so widespread that many moms and dads have turned to the PEP Squad (Parents Empowering Parents) on Facebook to vent and get support from others who understand exactly what they’re going through. The group’s page has had a number of conversations lately on the topic. A few of the most vexing comments include…
Rachael* People confusing T1 diabetes for T2 diabetes. I feel like I am constantly explaining the difference. My husband and I wish the two diseases had completely different names!
Claudia* Once they are on a pump, they are basically cured.
Jennifer* People ask my son if it’s contagious…really people?!?
Jacqueline* That they have a special drink/shake/probiotic/oil/vitamin supplement that they sell that will make his diabetes go away.
Deborah* The waitress at the restaurant that told me my daughter should skip the bun on her burger if she had diabetes.
Hilary* Can’t he just take pill?
Ugh! But how can we turn it around? Family therapist and one of the founders of the PEP Squad Ilene Vinikoor offers a suggestion…
“Most people are uninformed about diabetes. They don’t know the facts. And when it’s your child, it’s easy to get defensive when you hear these ignorant comments,” says Ilene.
After living with T1D for 51 years, Ilene has heard just about every crazy myth out there, and jokes, “There’s always someone who asks, ‘What about cinnamon?’” But Ilene always sees these moments as teaching opportunities. She advises parents to keep the explanation simple and “teach with an appropriate tone of voice. It should not be accusatory.”
She even presents another positive spin on taking the extra step, “If people understand the differences between type 1 and type 2, they just might donate to our cause. Knowledge is key, and it’s our duty as people directly affected by diabetes to help educate those who aren’t in the know.”
Feeling angry, isolated, or overwhelmed with diabetes? Find support in the PEP Squad: www.facebook.com/groups/PEPsquadDRI
*Last names have been omitted for privacy. PEP Squad is a “closed group” on Facebook, which means only group members can see posts.