Summary: This is the second of three monthly excerpts about taking type 1 diabetes to school. Last month I shared some tips to help navigate the school day with diabetes and next month I’ll talk school parties. There is an entire chapter in Kids First, Diabetes Second about diabetes management at school including information on 504 plans and developing a working relationship with teachers.
Talking To Other Students
There are two camps when it comes to educating classmates about diabetes. Some parents want to educate all of their child’s classmates about diabetes. For younger grades you can easily educate children by having a short show-and-tell, including reading an age-appropriate book about diabetes. Tell children in simple terms what diabetes is (that your child’s pancreas does not work and she can’t make her own insulin), and that they won’t catch it, which might be a common fear of young children. Show them your child’s blood glucose meter and supply bag, and explain that they may see your child checking blood sugar or even getting an injection, but this shouldn’t worry them. Tell them that your child might have to eat extra snacks, like on the way to PE, or that she may have to have juice if her blood sugar is low. Instruct them that if they ever notice your child acting differently, or if they can’t wake her up, to let a grown-up know.
The other camp doesn’t want to bring even more attention to their child, thus making the other children think he or she is different right out of the starting gate. We chose this approach for several reasons. While we made sure that teachers and staff were educated and trained, we decided not to do formal teaching to the children. Instead, we took a “wait and see” approach. We found that children asked Q, the teacher, and the nurse questions as they had them, and that Q was confident enough in herself to respond. On many occasions when I was at the school, children would ask me specific questions like how Q got diabetes, why she has to check her finger, and why she had to get shots.
In kindergarten, Q took it upon herself to do a show-and-tell. She displayed her medical ID bracelet, told the kids about checking her blood sugar and getting insulin, and fielded questions. I was proud of her for taking the initiative when she was ready to educate her peers. I wish I had been a fly on the wall that day!
If you’d like to learn more about the book, you can read more on the Kids First, Diabetes Second book page. It’s available widely in print and as an eBook from book sellers such as Barnes & Noble, Amazon.com, and IndieBound. And if you do read it and find it to be a valuable resource, I would greatly appreciate if you could write a review on any of the online retail sites. Thanks!
Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links to booksellers.
Please remember that I never give medical advice. Ask your endocrinologist or pediatrician for advice about your own child. Make your own informed decisions for your own child.