Back to School Basics for People With Diabetes

Creating a Diabetes Plan

| Aug 1, 2005

Thousands of people will prepare for school this month with the comforting ritual of buying folders, book covers, pencils and clothes. In the spirit of that preparation, I must ask, What about diabetes? What steps are you going to take to avoid the stress highs, mid-morning lows and the unexpected this school year?

I love the phrase “We never plan to fail, we just fail to plan.” This is so true; creating a diabetes plan will ensure the highest potential for success—regardless of the grade, school or student’s age.

Before-School Homework

1. Enquire about school policies regarding blood testing and medical emergencies.

2. Meet with teachers to explain what it means to have diabetes.

  • Describe the best method of treatment for the student’s diabetes.
  • Find out the schedule for breaks and meals (school lunchtimes can be anytime between 10:30 a.m. and 2:00 p.m.).
  • Explain what happens during an occurrence of hyperglycemia and hypoglycemia and give an action plan for each situation.
  • Give the teacher a supply of glucose tablets and snacks to keep in the classroom for emergencies.
  • Explain in detail what to do if a student has low blood glucose (for example, the student should not be left alone).
  • Discuss special activities like field trips.

3. Develop a buddy/warning system. For example, parents can have the school either page or text message the student’s glucose levels if they are outside of a predetermined range.

4. Talk to gym teachers and coaches. Make sure they understand the signs of hyper- and hypoglycemia and know the dangers associated with both. Review a written action plan to deal with these emergencies.

Once the homework is done, I challenge you to think creatively about incorporating diabetes into your child’s school year. You might suggest that your child choose diabetes as the topic of a science project, a class presentation, a speech or a book report.

For the student with diabetes who might be nervous talking publicly about his or her diabetes, consider an open letter about diabetes to the class. In the letter, the student could describe what diabetes is, how it works, how to respond during highs and lows and what the person with diabetes needs from others. Or, the student could write a story about another person with diabetes to illustrate the shared condition. (Lots of young people have used my story as a way to start talking about their diabetes in school.)

The parents of younger students with diabetes could write a letter to the other parents explaining the educational value diabetes can provide. Here is a suggested starting point:

What Your Child Will Learn About Diabetes This Year

  • You can’t “catch” diabetes.
  • How exercise affects glucose levels.
  • Sometimes people with diabetes use interesting devices to care for their condition.
  • People with diabetes can do anything as long as they test their blood glucose, take their medications and eat appropriately.

The most important thing for a student with diabetes is to be prepared. Planning ahead means safety. I know I will be ready—I hope you and your child will be, too!

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Categories: Blood Glucose, Diabetes, Diabetes, Kids & Teens, Low Blood Sugar

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