Back to School With Diabetes
For the parent of a child with diabetes, a little extra thought goes into every school day: What supplies will my child need? Who can help in an emergency? Here are answers to some big questions about sending your child off to school:
Can my child carry diabetes supplies and insulin?
Children who can test their blood glucose and administer insulin on their own should be able to carry their own supplies. Otherwise, these should be kept in a place accessible to the school nurse and other trained school personnel. Your child should also carry glucose tabs or another fast-acting glucose source for quickly combating lows.
Can I depend on the school office to have extra supplies?
No. It is your responsibility as the parent to provide your child's school with needed supplies, medications, and snacks. "For older kids who move from class to class, you can give each teacher and coach a supply of glucose tabs to keep at their desk as a backup," suggests Crystal Jackson, associate director of legal advocacy at the American Diabetes Association. Every child should also have a glucagon kit for severe hypoglycemia emergencies.
What happens when the school nurse is unavailable?
It's essential that there always be someone available to provide routine and emergency diabetes care. Find out if anyone else in the school, like teachers or administrative staff, has been trained to administer diabetes care. You can help plan for training sessions by connecting your school nurse with diabetes educators in the community and by directing them to the American Diabetes Association for a free training curriculum (diabetes.org/schooltraining).
Can my child participate in sports?
Kids with diabetes participate in all the same activities and sports as do kids who don't have diabetes. "The key is making sure the physical education teacher or coach has been trained to recognize and treat hypoglycemia and provide other care," Jackson says. It may be a good idea to show your child's teammates how to spot a low.
How about field trips?
The school is required by law to accommodate your child so he or she can participate. "Parental attendance cannot be a prerequisite for a child's participation in a school-sponsored activity or field trip," says Jackson. The school is required by law to have trained staff in attendance.
How do I get carb counts for the school lunch menus?
Check the school district's Web site for lunch menus, or work with the school nurse to try to obtain this information.
What if the school isn't meeting my child's needs?
There are two written plans you need to file with your school, if you haven't already: a Diabetes Medical Management Plan and an education accommodations plan. You can learn more at diabetes.org/schoolplans.