Checklist for a Worry-Free School Term Start for your Diabetic Child

The beginning of school term can be an anxious time for parents of diabetic children.  Not only do they have to prepare by buying uniforms, books, pens and calculators, but also they have the added worry of their child’s health.  Will their youngster be all right in the school environment?  Will they remember to watch what they eat and monitor their blood sugar?  What if they suffer a blood sugar problem while they are at school?  Moreover, for parents of newly diagnosed diabetic children the worry is even greater.  However, the ideas below can lessen anxiety.

  • As with all diabetic people, your child may benefit from wearing a medic alert bracelet or necklace.  These items carry information about the wearer’s condition, and ensure paramedics or anyone else needing to treat your child will be aware of his diabetes.
  • The secret of minimizing risk is communication.  Go into school and meet with the principle and teachers. You need to make sure they are aware of your child’s health condition and what they need to do if there is a problem.  Many teachers will have encountered this sort of situation before, and even those who have not will be sympathetic and keen to help in any way they can.  Take your child’s diabetes management plan with you and see that everyone knows things like how to cope if your child has a hypoglycemic episode and what his usual symptoms of low blood sugar are.  Let them know whether the child can give his own injections and whether he has special dietary needs.  Discuss with the staff whether it is necessary to have an insulin pack and needle in each classroom where the child will be studying, and whether staff need to learn how to inject in an emergency.
  • Discuss strategies that cover all sorts of situations, including sports days and field trips, when your child may be called on to take part in a lot of exercise or may be away from school and need to take all his equipment with him.
  • Check out the lunches provided by the school.  If you do not consider they are suitable for your diabetic child, elect to provide him with a packed lunch to cover his needs.
  • Organization is a great key to managing the child’s diabetes successfully.  Make sure he has his testing equipment tidily packed in its original packaging, not just stuffed in a plastic bag.  Consider getting a second meter for him to keep at school, or for the school nurse to keep for him.  Ensure your child not only has his needle and insulin supply, or his insulin pump and its batteries and reservoir, but also items to deal with low blood sugar.  Pack up small healthy carbohydrate snacks such as a small bag of raisins, a banana, fruit juice, a cracker or even glucose tablets in case he feels hypoglycemic.  Make these small and non-messy so he can consume them in the class if he needs to, or on the school bus.   Avoid candy or other items your child may be tempted to eat even if he is not hypoglycemic.

A little bit of forethought can make all the difference to your child as he starts the school term – and to your own peace of mind.

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