Planning The School Year For a Child With Diabetes
Back to school! For many parents and their kids, this is an exciting time. But for parents of children with diabetes, that excitement may instead be anxiety. During the summer, monitoring your kids’ blood sugar was easy—they were home or with trusted caregivers. Continuing treatment and monitoring of diabetes once school starts becomes more challenging. It’s time to put a plan in place and we have outlined everything you need to consider here.
The DMMP Plan
The American Diabetes Association recommends working with your medical team to put together a Diabetes Medical Management Plan or DMMP for your child. They offer templates that can simply be filled in and customized to your child’s needs. The DMMP includes:
- Target blood sugar range
- Your child’s low blood sugar symptoms
- Treatment for low blood sugar
- Medications used
- Meal and snack options
- Managing sports activities
With the DMMP in hand, visit your child’s school and meet with the school nurse, teachers, staff, principal, coaches, and anyone who will have responsibility for your child both during school and during any afterschool activities. Gather menus from the cafeteria to help plan out your child’s insulin use, talk to the gym teacher and coaches about safety for your child during exercise, and, of course, talk to the school nurse. Take the time to review the DMMP with them and ensure everyone is on the same page when it comes to your child’s needs.
For further information on how to work with your school, how a diabetes educator can assist, and your child’s rights, the Association of Diabetes Care & Education Specialists has put together an easy-to-understand document that can be tapped as an additional resource to help you prepare for the new school year.
Finally, deliver a box of supplies for low blood sugar emergencies to the school nurse or office if the nurse is not always on campus. It should contain:
- Test strips and lancets
- Blood sugar monitor
- Glucose tablets, juice boxes, and/or crackers
All of this cross-communication with staff and teachers can seem overwhelming, especially for a parent with a recently diagnosed child or who may be sending a child off to school for the first time. We get it. Not being there to make sure nothing goes wrong is never easy, and when your child has diabetes, it’s even more challenging. For this reason, we also suggest looking into the Blue Loop program from MyCareConnect. It’s a communication tool that puts doctors, school nurses, educators, and parents in direct and immediate contact through texts or emails so as questions arise, a speedy answer can be found. The site also keeps your child’s blood glucose log data so healthcare providers can quickly see blood sugar levels and trends. It’s another way to give apprehensive parents some peace of mind.
At Home Preparations for Back To School
With the school on board, it’s time to take a look at what you as a parent can do to help ensure your child’s self-care for their diabetes continues when they leave the house. A child with diabetes has a goal of keeping their blood sugar level close to normal and tries to reach that goal by:
- Monitoring blood sugar
- Taking insulin
- Eating healthy
- Counting carbohydrates
Blood sugar monitoring is perhaps the most challenging, but it’s critical to check and record blood sugar levels to ensure your child’s levels stay within the target range. Genteel simplifies the process with our painless lancing device, but as students get busy with schoolwork and spend more time socializing with friends, that monitoring may take a back seat. For parents, the best way to combat a slip in testing is to send your child off to school prepared for any diabetes-induced scenario.
Put together a backpack with everything they may need. We found that a simple way to do this is to purchase one of the handy and fashionable premade bags and belts from Sugar Medical. The organizers have plenty of space for insulin pens, alcohol tabs, and even a test strip trash can to store used strips.
If you choose to build your backpack for your child, rather than purchase a premade bag, be sure to include:
- Insulin and syringes or pens
- Glucose tablets or a fast-acting carbohydrate
- Antiseptic wipes
- Blood sugar meter and batteries
- Testing strips and lancets
Your child should also head out with a medical ID necklace or bracelet and the knowledge of who they can turn to for help.
A final way to reassure yourself as a parent that you’ve done all you can is to just spend some time with your child talking about what school will look like for them and that it can be just as normal for them as it is for any other kid. Diabetes can’t be cured, but it can be controlled and kids who have it can lead the lives they want to.
If you have questions on blood glucose monitoring and want to find out how Genteel can take some of the pain and worry away from testing, contact us. We’re happy to help you care for your children and for yourself.