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4 Back to School Tips for Families Managing Type 1 Diabetes

4 Back to School Tips for Families Managing Type 1 Diabetes

Teacher and kid

You may have heard some concerns about schools not being cooperative; and in some cases you may need an advocate to help you work through those issues. The good news your child is most likely not alone. Most schools have or are currently supporting other children with Type 1 and they’re already equipped to help. Here are a few strategies that can help make going back-to-school easier for you, your child, and the school:
 

1. Rally a broad support team. While you should definitely work with the school nurse and your physician in planning for your child’s care, there are many others that can provide day-to-day support. They don’t need a full education about Type 1 diabetes to be able to help. Just keep it simple and positive. For example: “If you notice my child looking pale or acting dizzy or clumsy, he needs some juice or a snack. He usually keeps something in his backpack, the classroom, or at the office. Can you watch out for him and make sure he gets a snack?” Here are some great people to have on your support team:

  • Friends and classmates
  • Other parents (for field trips and PTA events)
  • Teachers
  • Administration
  • Lunch staff
  • School nurse
2. Help make lunch a success. Planning ahead is the best way to help your child have success at lunch. Establishing a good routine in partnership with your school is really important.
  • Testing blood glucose. Decide ahead of time when, where, and who will test blood glucose.
  • Reporting blood glucose results. Determine a method to have the blood glucose number reported to you. This may include arranging for an email from the school office, having your child text a photo of number on the meter, or calling it in. Having a reporting process is important to make sure testing is not missed. This is especially important for teens.
  • Counting carbs. Plan for foods that your child enjoys. Type 1 kids quickly learn the carb counts for their favorite foods. If you pack a lunch, include the carb count for the total meal. Use school or district websites to access carb counts for school lunches. Ideally, your child will choose their lunch ahead of time. But it’s good to be flexible too. If they change their meal plan or don’t finish their lunch, make sure snacks are always on hand for possible lows.
  • Dosing and giving insulin.  It is important to ensure that your child has the necessary adult and clinical supervision and support based on their age and abilities. Even for kids with pumps that are pre-programmed to perform the calculations, having a chart that shows the dosing for the number of carbs is always helpful. You can download an carbs dosing chart here.
3. Plan for emergencies. Planning for emergencies will give you peace of mind, help your child feel safe and supported, and will ensure that your support team at school knows what to do. More information is available at the American Diabetes Association website in the Safe at School section.
  • Diabetes Medical Management Plan (DMMP) outlines the plan of care for your child. It’s an agreement between you, your school, and your physician. Be proactive and take the initiative to ensure this document is in place for your child. A sample form can be found here.
  • Section 504 Plan helps ensure that your child is protected from discrimination. A sample form
    can be found here.
  • Diabetes Emergency Action Plan is a one-page reference table to help the team at school know what to do based on the blood glucose of your child. You can use this diabetes emergency action plan template.
  • Diabetes Emergency kits are really important to have at school. Kits should include: Glucagon, extra insulin, syringe or pens /needles, snacks, extra batteries for pump and meter, fast acting sugar snack.
4. Stay positiveYou play an important role to ensure your child’s success at school. Be proactive and stay positive. Get to know teachers and administrators. Address concerns respectfully, and thank them often for the good things they do to help keep your child safe. Help foster a win-win approach to your child’s care.