Each year it's that time of the year. School is starting again. It's time to start prepping your child or yourself as a parent or teacher for another school year. How to manage diabetes at school? How do I prepare myself? What to expect? I'll share a few tips and tricks to make the best of it.
In this article you will learn about:
- How to manage your diabetes at school?
- How to prep yourself as a teacher or parent?
- What are great activities for diabetics at school?
- What are the responsibilities of the school staff?
- What products can improve diabetes management at school?
We are living in a society where we must respect our emotions and those of others. Children can be very emotional. They're the pillar of the community and our upcoming generations. A little negligence can lead to big disasters in their lives.
Especially when you're dealing with children that have diabetes As a parent you can oversee the home situation and the issues that come with it. But at school, that's a different scenario. Based on experience and interviews with parents and students, we concluded some tips that you should consider while dealing with diabetes in school.
Children with diabetes
Alone in the United States, there are 210,000 children under 20 years old diagnosed with diabetes. And that number is increasing daily. Juvenile diabetes, beter known as type 1 diabetes is occurring more and more.
The four basic symptoms of diabetes in children are the 4 T's.
- Tired - Most of the time, feeling exhausted and tired
- Thinner - Loss of weight without any clear reason
- Thirsty - Increased thirst
- Toilet - Excessive bedwetting or use of toilet
My aunt and mother actually noticed these 4 T's before I was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes when I was 9 years old.
Most of the parents don't know about these four symptoms and relate them to a usual illness or a bad day. You must pay attention and take necessary steps when needed.
10 tips for students, parents and teachers to manage diabetes at school
- Try to arrange a training session at your child's or your school regarding diabetes awareness and the equipment that is needed to manage diabetes at school.
- If school staff sees any physical or emotional change in a child having diabetes, take quick action and ensure the child's health first.
- The younger the child, the more important it is to check in with the school on a week-to-week basis.
- Provide the school with an action plan from your child's doctor that gives instructions on: testing, shots, dietary requirements, and explicit plans for handling low and high blood sugar.
- Make a friendly relationship with the student and try to know his routine and activities.
- The school staff should know that every child with diabetes is different from others and that diabetes management is never the same.
- There must be some fast-acting carbohydrates or at least a pack of snacks in the classroom to avoid any low blood sugar levels.
- Children are shy and usually they don't want to drag the attention of others. But when a student needs some extra space or acts different immediate action needs to be taken by the teachers.
- Good communication is key between parents and school staff to manage things correctly.
- Talk with your child regularly about how things are going. In a little heart-to-heart, you might help him or her become adept at recognizing signs of trouble and asking for help if and when it's needed.
Managing your diabetes at school
A home is a place where children are in their comfort zone. Taking care of a child in school is more difficult than home because of many reasons. In school, we also have to make sure that the diabetic student shouldn't feel segregated and participate in all activities.
Some children with diabetes need insulin to control their blood sugar levels. Injecting insulin at school is a lot easier nowadays with the availability of insulin pens. We have two types of insulin pens
- One is the disposable insulin pen, which has no re-fill option.
- Second is the re-useable insulin pen which has a cartridge which can be re-filled easily when empty.
Both of the pens are best stored in an insulin cooler or a quality insulin pen case.
Two situations often occur with children who have diabetes.
- Hypo is when the blood sugar level goes down abruptly. The school staff or teacher must always have some sweets or other sugar edibles in the class room to cure the dropping blood sugar levels. Every member of the crew needs to understand the symptoms of a hypo and how to treat it.
- Hyper is when the blood sugar levels are too high. It is a bit more challenging than hypos because here, the diabetic needs the right insulin injection based on his or hers prescriptions. Extreme thirst, the excessive need for the toilet can be the symptoms of hypers.
Top 7 products to manage diabetes at school
The Kids’ SPIbelt is the solution for kids who have to carry medical devices – like insulin pumps, inhalers, EpiPen, or CGMs (continuous glucose monitoring systems) – and who don‘t want to be held back from their active lives.
It gives kids the freedom to live life to the fullest and gives parents the peace of mind that their children can keep their important medical equipment secure and close by.
Record what you eat, your nutritional totals, blood sugar, mood and energy levels, supplements, exercise, weight, and more.
Logbook is adaptable for different diet plans that focus on blood sugar. Customize the log pages to meet your specific needs and goals, but use them to monitor your general health and weight too. Go you!
Includes a nutrition chart of popular foods with glycemic index and glycemic load data, plus calories, fat, carbs, fiber, sugar, and protein.
Designed to accommodate a cellphone, money, small snack, keys and even medical devices such as an inhaler or EpiPen, your children’s items will stay comfortably and securely on them. Our belt is so sleek and soft that children can wear it neatly under their shirt all day, with most forgetting they even have it on.
This zipper-less belt has an adjustable strap to fit your child’s waist preventing it from riding up or bouncing around. It has even been flip tested so items won’t fall out on jungle gym romps or roller coaster rides! Three separate pockets keep items from moving around in the belt, and the sleek clasp in the back makes it easy to put on and take off. Simply click it, size it and fill it!
- Medical Alert Symbol and 'TYPE 1 DIABETIC INSULIN DEPENDENT'
- Thick High Quality Silicone Bands filled with contrasting color to make message stand out.
- 4 Child Sized · 7" Circumference · 2-1/4" Diameter wristbands
- Money saving 4 pack with Black, White, Blue and Pink bracelets. See images above.
This heart-shaped case will make testing time a playful experience. Soft colors and friendly shapes promote healthy bodies and creative minds. This versatile case has two separate compartments. One side includes two Velcro-removable pockets, two elastic loops, and two larger net pockets to hold a meter, insulin pens, syringes, pump infusion sets, and other testing items. The opposite compartment is free to hold additional care items - FRIO cooling case, emergency snacks, log books, a compact sharps container, or other testing items. It also includes an optional detachable strap.
Organize all your diabetes supplies in our Universal Diabetes Supply Case II which features a soft construction. Secure glucose meter into case with our strong Velcro hook and loop. Stick the Velcro patch to the back of glucose meter and press to secure into the case. Includes 2 Velcro patches. Made with durable nylon that can be easily wiped clean with a wet cloth.
This color illustrated book for elementary age children contains an instructive story of a grade-schooler with diabetes who tells his classmates about the disease and how he manages it. The story offers sensitive insight into the day-to-day "school life" of a child with a chronic illness. Includes "Ten Tips for Teachers" and "Kids Quiz".
Diabetes and the parents role
If you are parenting a diabetic it can be very challenging. I was diagnosed at 9 years old and it changed my but certainly my parents world. Diagnosis of diabetes is the most crucial and initial thing that you have to focus on. After diagnosis, the first thing that you have to anticipate is the medical needs and diet plans.
Following up and checking the glucose levels of your child should be a part of your daily routine. A part of daily life is to make sure a diet is followed to control the blood sugar levels. The faster you start with a correct plan the faster your child will learn.
When your child goes to school make sure to follow the tips as described before. One of the most important one is to talk with your child regularly about how things are going. In a little heart-to-heart, you might help him or her become adept at recognizing signs of trouble and asking for help if and when it's needed.
School staff responsibilities
The school staff of diabetic students can help a lot with managing diabetes at school. Most of the students have type 1 diabetes. The school staff can prepare themselves for this easily.
If you're dealing with a student having diabetes then you must consider mental health and other health issues. We all know that diabetic students need a bit mor special care. They might need some extra leaves or some spare time during class for insulin injections or sugar testing. If the school staff doesn't cooperate with such students then the situation is not under control. Normally the students who got recently diagnosed with diabetes can not handle each the situation themselves and might need extra special assistance. A number of meetings between school staff and parents of diabetic students will be beneficial for these students.
Children with diabetes are sensitive. A little bit of your negligence can disturb their lives. There must be some protocol that every school must follow.
- Make sure that every diabetic student must be in all curricular and extracurricular activities
- A collaborative effort of school, parents, and medical staff is necessarily required
- Different kinds of training sessions related to diabetes should be conducted regularly to maintaining the knowledge
- In schools, a proper checklist should be maintained for every diabetic student
- Medical reports must be updated from time to time for proper treatment
- Always try to train students to be self-dependent. To check their sugar levels and insulin intakes regularly
School medical staff responsibilities
The school medical staff are the second in line, besides the parents that take care of the student at school. A few thing that are important of that care are.
- Checking of blood sugar levels
- Making sure that the needed types of insulin are available at school
- Document all diet plans of all diabetic students in their files
- You must know that no matter how many diabetic students you have, all of them are always different and need different treatment
- The coordination of medical staff and students must be smooth
In short, it is a collective effort of education, medical and physical instructor to tackle any misshape.
Activities at school and diabetes
If a child has type 1 or type 2 diabetes, it doesn't mean that he/she can not join the class on trips or educational tours. If a trip is coming, it is the responsibility of the school management to discuss with parents and plan the trip accordingly.
I personally have been on many trips with my school and even went on longer vacations without my parents. It's all about planning and taking the right steps.
Some schools have these programs by the name of "Individual health plan".
Almost 1 month before the trip everything should be prepared. A roper training of the school staff is important. Not only for students with diabetes but also other health issues.
If the trip is longer than one day parents and school staf must pack all needed medication. Blood sugar testing kits, insulin pumps or pens, needles, insulin, Glucagon hypo kit, snacks and more. Last but not least, try to contact a medical unit near the trip area for better arrangements and emergencies.
Physical activities drop down the energy levels and can lower the glucose levels. Where we have to keep them involved in all such activities at the same time, we also need to check the following to avoid any issues.
- The activity instructor must be aware that the student has diabetes
- The activity must be child friendly and shouldn't have any risks
- The time duration of the activity matters a lot
- Snack times and insulin delivery must be adjusted according to the timing fo the activity
- Regularly checking the glucose levels to prevent any low blood sugars
If a student is using an insulin pump and has to remove it during activity, it's the responsibility of the school activity instructor or teacher to reconnect the pump after the activity.
A student spends a significant part of his/her life in school. School can also be seen as its second home. There is no doubt in saying that diabetics face difficulty on every level, but it can be less if schools coordinate accordingly.
Parents and school staff must be on the same page and plan all the diet plans, physical activities, and trips rather than restrictions on your child/student. All the medical reports of students must be attached to their educational files to tackle everything smoothly.