Live and Learn with Diabetes—Educational Toys and Products for Kids

| Jan 1, 1998

It can be difficult enough being a child, not to mention a child with diabetes. Luckily, there are educational toys, products and information that can help children with diabetes conquer some of the mountains that diabetes can create. DIABETES HEALTH looked into various products and logged onto a web site for children with diabetes - - to ask parents of children with diabetes firsthand how they deal with the day-to-day challenges of diabetes. Here are a few products and parents' tips that you may want to look into.

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Rufus, the Bear with Diabetes: $25 (includes shipping/handling). To order write Carol Cramer, 225 Pebble Creek Drive, Lake Zurich, IL 60047

Rufus the Bear was first created by Carol Cramer for her six-year-old son Brian, who has diabetes. Rufus is a teddy bear that wears a Medic Alert bracelet and has patches on his body where children can give him injections and learn about injection site rotation. Rufus also has red heart patches on his paws so that pretend BG tests can be given.

Seven dollars from every teddy bear will be donated to the Juvenile Diabetes Foundation Research Fund. Rufus can be ordered as either a boy or girl bear.

DiabetesDek: $11.95 (shipping/handling included). To order call (800) 416-4636 or write Infodek, Inc., 150 Glenridge Commons, Atlanta, GA 30328.

The DiabetesDek contains 48 double-sided, pocket-sized cards that make good reference tools for teens and parents. They include tips on traveling, meal planning, insulin mixing, checking BGs and information on what to do in case of hypo and hyperglycemia.

The Medos Multiple Alarm Watch: $50. For more information write Roland the Apple Pro Production AB, Box 4189, 227 22 Lund, Sweden, or e-mail

This digital watch has six built-in alarms to remind children when to take their medication and when to perform their BG tests. These watches can help children gain a greater sense of independence from their parents while still reminding them to test their BGs and take insulin shots.

PortionPak2: $50 (plus $7 shipping/handling). To order call (701) 857-6080 or (800) 249-4856 or write Mikela Corporation, P.O. Box 571, #10 North Main Street, Minot, ND 58703.

The PortionPak2 is a reference guide that provides nutritional information in a small binder. Created by Michelle Saari to help her six-year-old daughter Dana with her meal plans, the guide has brightly colored pictures which can help teach a child about nutrition and meal planning through color coding and visualization. The PortionPak2 determines serving sizes based on the Food Guide Pyramid and the exchange system, eliminating the need to weigh and measure food.

Packy and Marlon Health Hero Video Game for the SuperNintendo System: $69. To order call Raya Systems at (800) 428-5076.

Packy and Marlon are two young elephants who go to diabetes summer camp only to learn that the camp has been ransacked by rats and mice. As a result, the two must go on a journey to find their lost food and diabetes supplies. It's up to the player to check Packy and Marlon's BGs, give them insulin, plan their meals and answer diabetes-related questions for extra points.

This video game teaches children ages eight to 15 how to use food exchanges and illustrates self monitoring and insulin tips. Plus, the game deals with social situations that may occur when a child has diabetes.

A Kid Like You ... with Diabetes Coloring Book by the American Association of Diabetes Educators (AADE), $3. To order call (800) 338-DMED, press 1 and enter document #9001 for a complete product order form.

This coloring book is adapted from the drawings of Jennifer Downing, a child with diabetes. The book follows Jennifer from her diagnosis through her diabetes education. Kids can color and learn about what it's like to cope with diabetes. Plus, it gives kids positive reinforcement and allows them to learn while being creative and having fun.

In Control: A Guide for Teens with Diabetes by Jean Betschart, MN, RN, CDE, and Susan Thom, RD, LD, CDE, Chronimed Publishing, $10.95 (plus $3.00 shipping/handling). To order call (800) 848-2793.

Thom and Betschart guide kids aged 12 to 18 through the terrible teens. This book addresses all the things your teen with diabetes may want to know but is afraid to ask: dating, driving and substance abuse, to name a few. The tone of In Control is not preachy or overbearing. Instead, it is practical and down to earth, making the information easier for teens to digest.

Sarah and Puffle by Linnea Mulder, Magination Press, $8.95. To order call (800) 825-3089.

This book has plenty of illustrations and is easy for young children (ages four to eight) to understand. A young girl, Sarah, who has recently been diagnosed, is angry and frustrated with her diabetes. Then her stuffed lamb Puffle comes alive to comfort her and help her overcome the hurdles that diabetes has built.

A Magic Ride in Foozbah-Land by Jean Betschart, MN, RN, CDE, Chronimed Publishing, $12.95 (plus $3.00 shipping/handling). To order call (800) 848-2793.

Julie and Jeff, two kids with diabetes, embark on a magic trip of discovery with Nurse Kelly inside Mr. Foozbah's body to learn more about diabetes. This book is full of playful rhymes reminiscent of Dr. Seuss. Plus, the colorful illustrations will keep children (ages three to seven) excited to learn more about the importance of insulin and blood glucose monitoring.

Voices of Experience

Hundreds of responses came back when DIABETES HEALTH ran its survey on the popular children's web site, Castle Web, asking parents for their favorite products and tips on diabetes care. Here are a few of the responses we received.

  • Lispro by Eli Lilly because "It works fast and is out of the blood system in two hours. Hypoglycemia is diminished and a smaller snack is needed about two hours after mealtime. Also, since it works as fast as five minutes after injection, it can be taken right before a meal or for small children injected midway or even after a meal to ensure that the right amount of insulin is given for the amount of food consumed."
  • "Use Solarcaine to numb sensitive spots and lessen the pain of shots."
  • Palco's InjectEase because "it hides the syringe and makes it more like a finger stick so that small children are not as frightened."
  • The BD Pen because "it takes the time out of filling the syringes before injecting, it's easy to operate and there's less chance of making a mistake on dosages."
  • The BD Short Needle Syringe because "our four-year-old didn't cry when we used this one. Also, make sure the needle is inserted far enough and straight, not at an angle."
  • The AdvantJet jet insulin injector because "the absorption rate is much better and there is no medical waste (syringes). It has exact 1/2 unit measurements. If the proper paperwork and prescriptions are written by the doctor, most insurance companies will cover it 100 percent. The price is about equivalent to five years of syringes ($795). An RN comes to your home and trains you in how to use it. Don't forget to be patient while trying to find the right comfort setting for each injection site. The company gives you a vial of saline solution to practice with so that you know firsthand what a correct setting is."
  • "We like candies called Squeeze Lollipop, Squeeze Aquarium and Squeeze Lava Lamp. They are a glycerin gel candies good for treating lows. They work like InstaGlucose but they taste better and only cost about $1.10 each. They have a resealable screw on top so you can reuse them and can be found at candy counters in convenience stores across the country."

Looking for More?

These are just a few tips and products for children with diabetes. One invaluable resource is the world wide web. Everything from cookbooks to summer camp can be found in cyber space. Also, for more information you can contact the JDF at (800) JDF-CURE or at its web site

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Categories: Blood Glucose, Diabetes, Food, Insulin, Kids & Teens, Low Blood Sugar, Pens, Syringes

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