Summary: Tips on sharing the type 1 diabetes diagnosis with other children, family, and caregivers.
Sharing the Diagnosis
It’s natural for friends and family to want to call or stop by in those first weeks after the diagnosis. They only want to help, but you may be too busy trying to figure out how you’re going to keep your child healthy to deal with a flurry of visitors. It’s okay to ask friends to hold off on visits until you get a handle on things. When you’re ready, here are some good ways to share the news and teach people about diabetes:
- Read one of the various age-appropriate children’s books to your child’s class.
- Show the children what’s in the “kit” you (or your child) carry so they don’t think it’s so mysterious.
- Make a collage showing your child measuring a meal, getting their blood sugar checked, receiving an injection, etc., to show to the class.
- Some children think needles are scary. Explain that it’s a small needle, not like the vaccinations they get, and that they shouldn’t be nervous if they see your child getting an injection.
- Tell them that they will not catch diabetes from your child. Explain simply that her pancreas stopped working and she can’t make her own insulin. She has to check her blood sugar and get injections to stay healthy.
Friends and Family
- Invite several people over at once so that you don’t have to give the same talk multiple times.
- If they are not caregivers of your child, you can teach them the basics, such as the signs of low blood sugar and how to treat it. Let them know that they don’t have to make special accommodations, such as stocking up on sugar-free products, and that your child can still be included in celebrations, including eating cake.
- If your child is self-conscious about her diabetes, you may choose to do this without her present.
- Share books covering the basics of diabetes care, such as Diabetes Care for Babies, Toddlers, and Preschoolers or A First Book For Understanding Diabetes. You want to educate caregivers without overwhelming them with too much information.
- Go over the signs and symptoms of low blood sugar, including treatment using the “rule of 15s” (see chapter 4), how and when to use glucagon, signs and symptoms of high blood sugar, and when to check for ketones.
- Give an introduction to counting carbs and giving insulin if this will be one of their duties when caring for your child.
- Hand out a simple one-to-two-page instruction sheet that includes all the important information at a glance.
- Reassure them that they can do this, too, and that you are only a phone call away if they have questions.
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!
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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.