RIDGEWOOD, N.J. -- When a child is diagnosed with diabetes, there is a learning curve that both the child and the parents must go through. They all need to learn how the child's diabetes can be managed through diet, exercise and medication; how to measure blood sugar; and what to do when blood sugar is too high or too low, etc.
Even when children have a good grasp on their diabetes while at home, parents may feel anxious about sending them off into an uncontrolled environment. That's why it's important for children and teens with diabetes to take special care to manage their diabetes while at school just as they do at home.
It can sometimes be difficult for children and teens to come to terms with their diabetes – even if they have it under control at home. Most kids don't like being different, and having diabetes means taking time away from socializing to take their insulin or having to measure their blood sugar when they'd rather be playing. But their health depends on good diabetes management. Talk to your child about his or her concerns, and brainstorm ways to deal with fears or other barriers.
You can help your child by packing a healthy, balanced lunch together. Every packed lunch —provided your child uses carbohydrate counting to determine their insulin dose — should include an index card listing the grams of carbohydrates in each food in the lunch. You should also encourage plenty of outdoor play and exercise, and remember your child should have blood sugars checked before physical activity.
Having trained adults on your side is also vitally important to help manage your child's diabetes. Work with the school health care provider and staff to develop a care plan. A school nurse can help you specify what, where, when and by whom diabetes care tasks will be provided in school.
You should work with your doctor and school to set up a 504 Plan for your child. A 504 Plan, which your doctor can easily draft for you, sets out the actions the school will take to make sure the student with diabetes is medically safe, has the same access to education as other children, and is treated fairly. For example, such a plan will allow for your child to take bathroom breaks and breaks to check blood sugar or take carbohydrate snacks while taking exams.