Rule of thumb for managing school and diabetes: expect the unexpected.
At times, this will feel like it happens daily. And it can.
Because Diabetes Is A 24/7 Challenge
Just the other day my son’s coach called me. First, let me note, my son’s coach never calls me!
She started her call with, “First, just know that everything is okay and there is nothing to worry about.”
What?! Instinct is when someone tells you not to worry, what do we do? Worry!
My son was having a severe hypoglycemia at volleyball practice. Fortunately, we were prepared and he was prepared. However, things can go from “Don’t worry” to full-on panic in an instant if you are not prepared.
Are You Prepared?
So you’ve done everything you feel you can to manage the scary combination of school and diabetes.
You’ve created a Diabetes Medical Management Plan.
You’ve assembled emergency diabetes supplies in case of a school lockdown or natural disaster.
You have a dedicated diabetes notebook or journal for keeping records of your child’s day-to-day food, blood glucose and medications.
You’ve managed to narrowly escape being so overtired that you just melt into a hot mess.
Yet you somehow STILL found yourself unprepared.
What If Things Do Not Go As Planned?
When you have a child with Type 1 Diabetes at school, things don’t always go as planned.
You could find yourself facing any of these unexpected diabetes challenges at any time:
- Incorrect dose or incorrect medication given to your child at school
- Your child is given something unusual to eat, outside of packed lunches or approved snacks, or without attention to their blood sugar
- Technology frustrations (a faulty sensor on a Continuous Glucose Monitor)
- Medication not kept at the appropriate temperature (eg on a school camp or trip – we recommend MedAngel to keep medications at the right temperature when traveling)
- Lost supplies or documentation…
Exhausting, isn’t it?
Your Game Plan For Managing The Unexpected At School
First, breathe. You’ve got this.
When things don’t go as planned with your child’s school, use these approaches to get back on top of things:
Communication and follow-up are key.
This is why meeting with the school nurse (or caretaker assigned to your child) and teacher at the start of each school year, before school starts or at the onset of diagnosis is so valuable. This will allow you to connect and build a rapport, so following up and keeping in touch is easier.
Never be afraid to ask questions about treatment given to your child.
If you notice that something seems not right, raise your concern – but stay calm if possible.
Those caring for your child at school may make mistakes. Talk it over with the nurse or teacher. Re-educate them on a particular topic when an error or miscommunication occurs.
Document it – send an email, or document it in some other way.
Whenever there is an incident, write it down. Document what you have talked about. Note any decisions you’ve made together about what to do in the future. Send it to the school so they have a record too. And of course follow up with further documentation when necessary.
Meet with the nurse/caregiver first.
Discuss any issues directly with your child’s caregiver first. Unless the incident was severe, avoid escalating and involving others until you have all the facts, and deem it necessary.
If necessary, escalate any issues or challenges to the next level of authority.
If an incident is serious and you do need to escalate it, it can help to gather evidence and documentation.
This can include sources you find on the internet (relevant to your area, especially if related to laws), advice from your child’s doctor, and information from relevant diabetes authorities or organizations.
The more supporting information you have, the more that people will be compelled to listen.
Refer to the directives from your child’s doctor that are in your School Diabetes Management Plan as often as needed.
Referring back to your Diabetes Medical Management Plan helps to reinforce to your child’s caretakers that this document is critical in caring for your child.
The school nurse or teacher may have neglected to refer to the DMMP, in which case you should emphasize to always consult it. If you send any follow-up documentation, refer to the specific page or section of your DMMP that was not correctly followed.
Re-educate school nurses / staff as needed.
Whenever you feel that something is unclear, go back and meet with your child’s nurse or teacher to go over important details again. In addition, set up a new meeting whenever some aspect of your DMMP changes.
My Online Course For Parents of School Children with Type 1 Diabetes Opens 14 November 2019!
Would you love guidance like what you see above for managing your child’s diabetes at school?
Would you also love a blueprint for:
- Getting ready for the school year with diabetes
- Communicating with school nurses, teachers and staff
- Creating a Diabetes School Management Plan
- Taking notes and keeping records
- Preparing for emergencies and the unexpected
- Handling special events such as parties, field trips and after-school activities
- Catching the school bus
- And more?
Yeah. I thought so!
The Ultimate T1D School Game Plan launches on World Diabetes Day 2019 – that’s November 14. It’s for parents just like you.
I (Pam Durant) will be your instructor, sharing everything I’ve learned as:
- The mom of a young child with Type 1 Diabetes (10+ years)
- A former healthcare professional (20+ years in healthcare management, consulting and education)
- A qualified wellness and lifestyle coach (I’m a certified Wellcoach® with a special focus on coaching people with diabetes and caretakers of children with diabetes)
- A diabetes advocate and mentor, embodied in my work as Founder of DiapointME.
I would love to bring more ease into your life as you manage your child’s Type 1 Diabetes.
5 Essentials for Managing Type 1 Diabetes at School
Relieve some of the anxiety you feel whenever your child with Type 1 Diabetes heads to school for the day.
You'll find tips on educating the teacher and nurse, making emergency snack boxes, traveling on the school bus and more.