If you have a child with diabetes, you probably think about the beginning of another school year a little differently than other parents. With the start of a new school year comes new teachers, new friends, and a new supply of glucose tabs for your child’s backpack. In order to prepare your diabetic child for the new school year, it is important to develop certain plans related to their diabetes to share with your child’s school.
Diabetic Management Plans
Children with diabetes need specialized medical treatment to be healthy. It is crucial that the school has a copy of your child’s 504 plan. This plan refers to Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. The plan establishes actions that the school will take for diabetic students to ensure that they are medically safe, treated fairly, and have access to the same education as other children.
A diabetic medical management care plan should also be shared with the school. This plan should detail a child’s prescription requirements, emergency contacts, and instructions for managing diabetic crises. A diabetic medical care plan is a helpful way to improve communication between all staff members that will be directly involved with the student and their family. Speaking with both the school nurse and the child’s teacher(s) is an important part of keeping lines of communication open regarding your child’s specific needs. The following are a few tips to help you build a diabetic medical management care plan:
- Get organized. The first priority should be to get organized. This means labeling all of your child’s medications with their names and uses and establishing where and how they should be stored at the school. Don’t forget to tell the school if the medication needs to be refrigerated or not.
- Plan for emergencies. You may consider talking to your child’s health care provider about getting them a prescription for a glucagon pen to keep at the school for emergencies.
- Talk with the staff about your child’s diabetic needs. This includes all the adults your child will be in contact with on a regular basis, such as coaches, teachers’ aides, and even the school bus driver. These staff members may need to know about items like how to monitor or adjust your child’s blood sugar levels. For example, if your child’s blood sugar is too high, the staff will need to consider what the child has eaten and stick to the child’s insulin schedule. However, if the child’s blood sugar is too low, they may need to give the child simple carbs–like juice or soda–or glucose tablets to bring it up.
- Provide contact information. Provide the school with a list of contact information for your child’s parents or guardian’s in case the school has questions or concerns.
Get Your Child Involved
It’s important that your child is involved in taking care of their diabetes. Make sure they know the following things about their diabetes:
- What affects their blood sugar levels. Your child should know how their blood sugar is affected by the choices that they make at lunch, when they are exercising, or during any other school activity. The term “blood sugar levels” refers to the amount of glucose in the blood. Various factors can cause a person’s blood sugar to increase or decrease. For example, consuming carbs can raise blood sugar levels. Exercise and some treatments, including insulin, can drop blood sugar.
- How to monitor their blood sugar levels. Depending on their age and level of readiness, your child should know how check their blood sugar levels, give injections, or how to use an insulin pump. Practice these skills with your child at home so they are more confident about doing them at school.
- Who is their caregiver is at school. Identify the school caregiver for your child so they know where to go when they need their blood sugar checked or if they feel like they have a low glucose level.
Remember, the need for medical care for children with diabetes doesn’t end when they are at school. The school year can be exciting, educational, and safe for your child if you plan ahead and coordinate with your care team.