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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.
1. Enquire about school policies regarding blood testing and medical emergencies.
2. Meet with teachers to explain what it means to have diabetes.
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
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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