Back to school can be stressful for everyone, but for children living with diabetes, preparing to go back to school is much more complicated. It often involves parents, teachers, administration, school nurses, cafeteria staff and coaches teaming up to ensure the child remains healthy.
Proper diabetes management, especially important for children, requires a large time commitment and significant understanding of the disease from diabetic children and from the people they spend time with every day. Marc Wolf RPh, founder and CEO of Diabetic Care Services, a leading mail order provider of diabetic supplies and prescriptions, offers some tips for parents to help their children return to school when diabetes is a factor.
Tips for Managing Diabetes at School
Before school begins, schedule a meeting with your child's teacher, administrator, school nurse and cafeteria staff to discuss his or her personal diabetes management plan.
Bring written copies of the plan to leave with each person who may be responsible for your child. It should include information on your child's medication, including when it should be taken, proper dosage, proper technique for administering the medication, who should administer medication (your child, the school nurse, or another designated staff member) and the reasons why your child takes it, as well as who to contact and what actions to take in case of emergency, how to recognize warning signs of high and low blood sugar, and a nutrition plan for both regular meals and snacks.
Review the personal diabetes management plan with your child.
If he or she is old enough, your child will be able to manage most testing and medication independently, but should also know who he or she can turn to when help is needed.
For younger children, explain that another person will be taking over the tasks their mom or dad might usually perform while at school.
Seek feedback from your child daily to ensure he or she feels comfortable with the situation and to assess how he or she feels throughout the day.
Pack healthy snacks for your child to battle sudden low blood sugar, and ensure school staff will allow your child to access these snacks when needed.
Ask the school nurse to store extra testing supplies and medications as back up.
Teach your child not to share snacks or trade food items with other students while at lunch.
Establish a routine for your child right away so he or she adapts habits for eating, testing and taking medication at the same time each day whether in school, at practice or at home after school.Most importantly, ensure your child goes to bed on time with no distractions to prevent them from falling asleep.
It is normal for parents to feel stressed when children head back to school, but it is important to remain as calm as possible so that your child also feels relaxed. High stress levels can cause spikes in blood glucose levels due to adrenaline released by the body.
Encourage your child to be an active participant in physical education class and even to join an athletic team. Just be sure to meet with coaches in advance to discuss your child's personal diabetes management plan.
Ask your child's teacher to invite a diabetes educator to speak with the class. The local diabetes association can provide resources for locating an educator, who can explain the basics of diabetes to your child's classmates (i.e. that it is not contagious) and answer any questions they might have. Your child will feel more comfortable managing diabetes while at school if he or she isn't greeted with questions or stares.
Make sure your child wears a diabetic ID bracelet or necklace at all times. Bracelets are inexpensive and can be purchased online at www.diabeticcareservices.com.
About Diabetic Care Services
Diabetic Care Services, headquartered in Cleveland is one of the nation's leading mail order durable medical equipment suppliers dedicated exclusively to diabetic supplies and prescription medications for patients with diabetes. For both Medicare and private insurance customers, Diabetic Care Services delivers one-stop shopping, 24/7 personalized customer service and free doorstep delivery on more than a 1,000 brand name diabetes supplies and prescription medications. For more information, call 800.633.7167 or visit www.DiabeticCareServices.com.