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School & Diabetes
So your child was recently diagnosed with type 1 diabetes and now it’s time for her to go back to school. Or your child was diagnosed months or years ago and is now about to start his school career. Or maybe you and your child have been managing diabetes within the school system for some time, and you want to make sure you’ve covered all the bases. Whatever your individual situation, there are some common themes and processes which may help take the fire out of the diabetes dragon at school.
Articles on Managing Diabetes at School
Maybe you’re wondering…
Where do I start in preparing my child with diabetes to go to school? Who should do what tasks? What can I expect the school staff to do to help my child manage diabetes during school hours? What knowledge and skills do the staff need to have to successfully care for my child while she’s at school?
What’s a Diabetes Care Plan for School? What does it include and who writes it? How do I make sure my child’s needs are clearly communicated in the Care Plan? And then how do I work with the school staff to make sure the Care Plan is successfully carried out?
What other tools can help smooth the transition to school?
Or maybe you’re wondering…
What are my child’s rights as a student with diabetes? What other resources can I access to help my family deal with diabetes at school?…
Other Resources for School and Diabetes
The information below contains external links. Clicking on those links will take you to a different website outside of WaltzingTheDragon.ca.
Waltzing the Dragon is not responsible for the accuracy of the information contained on those websites.
Diabetes@School.ca … Safety. Support. Success.
What: Diabetes@School is an informational website developed by the Canadian Paediatric Society (CPS), the Canadian Diabetes Association (CDA) and the Canadian Pediatric Endocrine Group (CPEG).
Diabetes@School features bilingual training resources for use by educators, school boards, and parents of children with diabetes. Topics include understanding blood sugars, food and insulin, physical activity, and communication between home and school, including: printable posters for Low and High Blood Glucose; links to existing policies in the provinces that have them; a role for the students, plus what is developmentally appropriate to expect from them at different ages; info on glucagon (what it is, how to use it).
Diabetes@School is a national initiative aimed at keeping students with type 1 diabetes safe at school. It was developed in response to the growing need to support the 30,000 school-aged children in Canada who have type 1 diabetes, which requires intensive round-the-clock management. People with type 1 diabetes must check blood sugar frequently, and inject insulin several times daily. Children under 5 years represent the fastest growing group of new diagnoses, meaning schools are increasingly likely to have students with the condition.
Who: For educators with a student with diabetes under their care, and for parents of a student with diabetes.
Written Resources & Visual Media
The Alberta Children’s Hospital Diabetes Clinic
The Alberta Children’s Hospital Diabetes Clinic provides a fill-in-the-blank template for a Diabetes Care Plan, which has all the relevant information well-organized and easily accessible in a 2-page form. If you are looking for Care Plan template, we would suggest you check this one out first. (Click here for the ACH Diabetes Care Plan template.)
Diabetes Canada (formerly The Canadian Diabetes Association, CDA) has an excellent written resource called “Kids with Diabetes in Your Care”, available on their website at www.diabetes.ca. If you are going to access only one guide for parents regarding diabetes and school, we have found this comprehensive but manageable guide to fit the bill. This written guide is available online (printable and down-loaded), pertains to the Canadian school system, is focused on type 1 diabetes, and is a relatively brief, wonderfully concise guide to diabetes in the school setting (shorter than the JDRF (US) booklet referenced below). Highlights include:
- An outline of suggested roles and responsibilities (“Standards of Care for Students with Type 1 Diabetes”).
- Training information about the basics of diabetes (“About Diabetes”) to give to school staff.
- Signs and treatment of hypoglycemia in poster format which you could simply print off and post it in key locations around your child’s school (“Signs, Symptoms and Treatment of Hypoglycemia (Low Blood Glucose)”).
- Glossary of 15 common diabetes terms.
- Answers to Frequently Asked Questions that teachers/administrators may have about diabetes.
- Kids with Diabetes Information Card – a 2-page, fill-in-the-blank form to record relevant personal information, as well as details on emergency contacts, snacks/meals, and specific treatment for low blood glucose; may serve as a brief Diabetes Care Plan.
- School employee as a good Samaritan: assisting students with diabetes discusses the fact that although teachers are not obligated provide medical treatment to their students, the Association encourages teachers to assist students in the ordinary and emergency management of diabetes, and should not be held liable if the teacher’s well-intentioned actions result injury to the student.
- Letter of agreement between parent and school is not mandatory, but may be useful in some circumstances, to formalize the care agreement between home and school.
Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF)
Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF) has a School Advisory Toolkit for Families (booklet) which is available in two versions:
What we value about this resource is:
- Detailed and comprehensive, if that’s what you’re looking for. The full version is over 70 pages long (some of which is not applicable in Canada, as it outlines U.S student rights and legislation).
- “A Message to Parents” and “A Message to School Staff”, complementary documents that give each party a realistic view of the other’s perspective.
- Suggested roles and responsibilities for parents, a number of different school staff, and also for the student (which reminds us that the child with diabetes also needs to take an active role in managing their own health, and gives concrete suggestions about how they can do so).
- “Diabetes Basics” is comprehensive written information for educating school staff about type 1 diabetes (slightly longer and more detailed than that outlined in the CDA or Trillium guides).
- Sample letters you may find helpful (for example, to send to the parents of your child’s classmates, explaining your child’s needs and how their child may support those needs).
The important thing to remember about this resource is that it is written within the context of the U.S. education system, so some information does not apply to those of us who live in Canada. Still, enough of the information can be translated into “Canadian” for this resource to be useful. And it’s spot-on for those of us who live in the United States!
What we value about this resource is:
- All of the information applies to the Canadian school system, so no sifting and translating required.
- Brief and concise, if that’s what you’re looking for, including the information on Diabetes Basics.
- Tips on Building Partnership Through Communication.
- Treatment Guidelines for Hypoglycemia (Low Blood Glucose) are clearly laid out, easy to reference, could be printed out and posted in key locations around the school.
- A clearly laid-out, fill-in-the-blanks Diabetes Management Plan.
- A list of some federal and provincial government resources for more information about diabetes in the school setting.
International Diabetes Federation (IDF)
The International Diabetes Federation (IDF) is a global organization of which many national diabetes organizations (such as Diabetes Canada, and the American Diabetes Association) are members. IDF has a Kids & Diabetes in Schools “Information Pack for Teachers” written to address the issues relevant to having a student with diabetes (both type 1 and type 2) in their classroom.
- Myths about diabetes
- As a teacher what do I need to know?
- What do I need to know about low blood sugar?
- Causes, symptoms and how to cope with it
- What to do if a child has low blood sugar
- What do I need to know about high blood sugar?
- Causes, symptoms and how to cope with it.
- What to do if a child has high blood sugar
- What do I need to know about exercise and diabetes?
- What about extra curricular activities?
Trillium Health Centre (Ontario)
Trillium Health Centre has produced an excellent DVD (and accompanying information booklet) to help educate teachers about type 1 diabetes. The “Diabetes School Toolkit: Supporting Students with Type 1 Diabetes” includes a 15-minute DVD that explains what type 1 diabetes is and how it is treated. The main focus of the video is keeping the student safe by detecting, treating and preventing low blood glucose. We love this video because it’s concise, realistic, practical, and shows vignettes from real students with type 1 diabetes, which gives diabetes a human face. If you are looking for one set of training materials to share with staff at your child’s school, check out this one first.
The video can be viewed online (scroll down until you see the video window under “Paediatric Diabetes Outpatient Clinic”).
The above list of resources for School & Diabetes is not exhaustive. If you have found a helpful resource, please let us know.
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