If it takes a village to raise a child, it takes a team to manage type 1 diabetes at school. That team will likely be made up of you, your child, and any school personnel who interact with him or her throughout the day. "It should include -- but is not limited to -- teachers, nurses, guidance counselors and physical education instructors," says Colleen Shamberger, a nurse at Maple Avenue Middle School in Saratoga Springs, N.Y. Typically, a school nurse will train staff members to recognize basic signs and symptoms of low and high blood sugar, and what to do in an emergency.
Of course, you can't have great teamwork without great communication. "Parents are the best resource for a child's individual needs," says Beth Anderson, a nurse who covers four elementary schools in San Diego County, Calif. Sharing behavioral information about your child is particularly important because the signs of low blood sugar can vary greatly among kids with type 1 diabetes. "Some children may get a little goofy, while others may get cranky," explains Anderson. Once a nurse knows a child's symptoms, she can include them in the care plan that is shared with the school staff.
"It's extremely important to get off to a good start, even before the school year begins if possible," stresses Janice Tate, a registered nurse and certified diabetes educator based in Missoula, Mont, who frequently educates staff at schools in her area. "Communicate, communicate, communicate. Be very specific about what you need -- if your son needs a snack at 10 a.m., then put it in writing."
What else should you share with the staff at your child's school -- and how? We asked a panel of school personnel -- teachers, nurses, and administrators -- to share the most useful nuggets they've received from moms.
So when in doubt about over-sharing? Do it, advises Wickham. "I want parents to be proactive and set up a meeting with the new teachers who need to be made aware of the serious health risks involved for unmanaged diabetes," she says. "Call the school and ask for that meeting and invite as many people as possible."
Disclaimer: The experiences and suggestions recounted in these articles are not intended as medical advice, and they are not necessarily the "typical" experiences of families with a child who has type 1 diabetes. These situations are unique to the families depicted. Families should check with their healthcare professionals regarding the treatment of type 1 diabetes and the frequency of blood glucose monitoring.
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Educational Games for Your Classroom Visit
Connect With the Class: Celebrities With Type 1 Diabetes
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