As the school year winds down, parents of children with diabetes may want to take a few minutes to evaluate their child’s relationship with the school. Was the school staff able to handle any problems that arose this year? “There needs to be really good communication between the parent and the school,” says Virginia Zamudio, R.N., M.S.N., C.D.E. and past president of the American Association of Diabetes Educators.
Assessing how things are going and establishing effective diabetes management at school can yield a variety of positive results, including:
* Promoting a healthy, productive learning environment (when your child is experiencing lows, it is very difficult for him or her to learn)
* Reducing school absences and classroom disruptions
* Creating an effective response in a diabetes-related emergency
The younger the child, the more important it is to check in with the school on a week-to-week basis. Age matters: A recently diagnosed kindergartner will need a much different approach than the one you’d take with a high school senior who has been managing diabetes since childhood.
At every age, however, you should talk with your child regularly about how things are going. In a little heart-to-heart, you might help him or her become adept at recognizing signs of trouble and asking for help if and when it’s needed. You also have to give school personnel enough information so that you can trust they will look out for your child’s welfare.
Provide the school with an individual action plan from your child’s doctor that gives instructions on: testing, shots, oral medications for low blood sugar problems, dietary requirements (e.g., need for snacks), and explicit plans for handling low and high blood sugar.
“If the nurse isn’t available, even the bus driver and other school personnel need to be able to recognize if your child is having symptoms of hypoglycemia and offer a form of quick-acting sugar,” Zamudio says. Work to establish an overall diabetes-friendly environment. The American Diabetes Association’s Safe at School campaign recommends that capable students should be allowed to self-manage their diabetes in the classroom and during school activities.
Open communication between you, your child and the school staff is the key. With a diabetes management plan in place at school, you and your child can rest easier knowing the right care will be given when it’s needed.