My child has diabetes and is about to start school.What steps should I take and how will the school help to ensure that things go well?
Nowadays, diabetes alone seldom prevents children from attending and participating fully in school activities, although special attention is required in certain circumstances. Fortunately, most children at the age of school entry have, by virtue of their age, not had diabetes for very long. Therefore, they rarely have chronic complications and their glucose control is more straightforward. The American Diabetes Association and other authoritative bodies recommend less stringent control of blood sugar in young children in order to avoid hypoglycemia, which is the overriding concern. In general, it is important to remember that each person, young or old, experiences diabetes differently. This is challenging and humbling for those of us who see people with diabetes every day. For your child's teachers, whose primary role is education unrelated to diabetes, it can be a major challenge indeed. Therefore, preparation is the key. It is important to provide the school with a daily plan describing the way your child's diabetes is managed, so they know what to expect as routine. It is important to inform the school how things may present themselves when they go wrong. How does your child's diabetes respond when he or she is under the weather, under stress, or following strenuous sports activities? What behavior does he or she show when low blood sugar occurs? All these things should be written down and put in a folder for your child's school nurse and teacher. A meeting with the teacher prior to your child entering their class will help to smooth the way. There is also a document, known as a 504 plan, which is used to describe the expectations and roles of the parents and the school in the management of the diabetes and when things go wrong. Further details are beyond the scope of this book, but excellent sources of information, including sample 504 plans, can be found at various websites including those of the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, American Diabetes Association, and the National Institutes of Health.