Diabetes Symptoms

Our goal is to help with the care and treatment of diabetes including diagnosing the symptoms

Blood sugar levels
Blood Sugar

Taking Diabetes To School

Sending your child off to school for the first time is particularly tough for parents. In addition to all the usual parental worries, you have your child's diabetes to think about. The good news is that many, many others have gone before you and have blazed the trail, so to speak, for your child's rights in the classroom. If you face an uncooperative school staff, there are specific legal protections in place to ensure that your child gets appropriate medical care and fair, nondiscriminatory treatment while in the classroom.

Dealing With Discrimination

Every child will probably have to deal with some form of discrimination in his or her life, usually due to an ignorance of what type 1 diabetes is all about. It can be as simple as denying a child a cookie in the cafeteria, or as overt as denying self monitoring for a child who is capable of performing it. If your child goes to a public school or a private school that receives federal funding, she has specific educational rights under several federal laws. Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 allows you to develop two important documents that ensure your child's medical needs are met while she is at school a Section 504 plan and an individualized education plan (IEP). A Section 504 plan outlines a child's basic medical needs while the IEP outlines the specific actions your child should be able to take in light of the 504 . To qualify under Section 504, you need to provide a record of medical impairment, which can easily be provided by your child's physician. You also need to prove that if not treated effectively, diabetes can affect your child's educational performance, again something your doctor can verify. Along with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) of 1991, Section 504 also ensures that your child isn't unnecessarily restricted from participating fully in activities she is capable of joining, such as school sports, and that things like diabetes-related absences don't negatively impact her school record. A Section 504 lEP should cover at least the following areas:

  • Blood glucose monitoring requirements. Spell out how often checks should occur, under what circumstances extra checks might be required , logging procedures, and how the meter and supplies should be stored.
  • Insulin requirements. List insulin doses, when they should be taken, how much insulin is required for specific glucose values or for covering a meal, and how to properly store insulin. If your child uses an insulin pump, include information on that as well.
  • Meals, snacks, and fluids. A dietary plan for meals eaten at school should describe your child's recommended carb intake for lunch and snacks, when he or she should eat, and also how to handle special occasions .
  • Recognizing and treating highs and lows. The plan should explain the signs of both hypoglycemia and hyperglycemia , and how to promptly and correctly treat both. Explicit directions on the administration of a glucagon shot should also be included, and staff should be trained in its use as well.
  • Ketone testing. Explain when ketone testing is appropriate and how the procedure works.
  • Contact information. This probably goes without saying, but make sure your lEP includes your full contact information, a backup emergency contact, and a backup for your backup. Someone should be reachable at all times.

Educating The Educators

If your child goes to a school that receives federal funding, the school itself is legally required to provide necessary diabetes training to educators and other personnel. However, it's in your best interest to get involved in the process early on. Ask to attend any teaching sessions the school sets up to ensure their accuracy and provide practical input on how the information specifically applies to your child. Your child's school may ask you for input or assistance in coordinating teacher training. This is a good opportunity to get your diabetes educator in to meet with all the teaching staff and support personnel that your child will have contact with in order to make them aware of her medical needs and to provide them with an accurate, working knowledge of what type 1 diabetes is really all about. School personnel who have contact with your child should be trained in all aspects of diabetes care. Even the most competent child may have situations where his blood glucose drops too low and he needs assistance with a check and! or a quick fix of glucose.

Treatment In The Classroom

Your child's school is not legally obligated to allow blood glucose testing in the classroom, and your son or daughter may be required to go to the nurse's office or another place to check glucose levels. However, for older children who are both capable of doing a check themselves and comfortable with doing it in class, it is usually in the best interest of all involved if the child is allowed to do checks right in the classroom. Your child will miss less class time-if they are feeling low they don't have to use up precious time traveling to the nurse's office and it is less disruptive to the entire class if they can discretely check without leaving the room. There should always be a fast acting glucose snack available in your child's classroom for her immediate use. You will have primary responsibility for keeping an adequate supply available for her, as well as keeping un expired meter strips and supplies, insulin, and everything else she needs in stock. The school should have a separate, dedicated meter for her use, along with a separate logbook she can use to record results. Request to have a photocopy of your child's readings sent home with her at the end of each day.

School Sports

Sports are another area where children may be treated differently because they have diabetes. Kids who want to get involved with team or individual sports should not be dissuaded or automatically excluded on the basis of their diabetes alone. With appropriate precautions, your child can excel in just about anything she wishes. If your child is participating in school sports, her coach should be involved in diabetes training along with other educators. It's particularly important that coaches realize the signs of hypoglycemia, since exercise may induce a low, and know how to treat it appropriately.