If your child has been diagnosed with type 1 diabetes, the back-to-school season is a great time to put a plan in place for the year ahead. If you're wondering, how can I help my child with type 1 diabetes prepare for a healthy and fun school year, here are six tips:
1. Have a conversation with your child about their fears. First things first: with a new school year approaching, set aside some time to talk with your child about their concerns regarding diabetes. Validate any fears they might have, answer their questions, and help them feel safe by expressing your support.
2. Talk to your doctor and create a diabetes management plan. If you haven't already, it's a good idea to create a diabetes medical management plan together with your care team—or update the previous year's plan. Share it with anyone involved in your child's care. If your child has a doctor's appointment coming up, check out the list of questions we compiled to help you feel prepared.
3. Prepare your type 1 diabetes kids' kit There's a lot to think about when it comes to putting together a diabetes management kit. Start with the basics—medical ID tag, blood sugar meters and extra batteries, test strips, insulin pens, antiseptic wipes—and don't forget to add glucose tablets or juice. Be sure to check the kit and replenish supplies as the school year goes on. You can also put together a diabetes care box for school to have on hand.
Ask your child's doctor if you should include a glucagon autoinjector like two-step Gvoke HypoPen® (glucagon injection) in the kit as well, which can help you feel prepared in the event that your child has very low blood sugar. It is not known if Gvoke® is safe and effective for children under 2 years of age.
4. Establish open lines of communication with everyone involved in your child's care. Reach out to your school administrators, nurses, teachers, coaches and anyone else involved in your child's day-to-day activities. Make sure they understand their responsibilities for creating a safe environment for your child—and continue to keep an open line of communication with them throughout the year.
You can also encourage your child's teachers to be open about what diabetes is and how it's managed, if your child is comfortable with that. Promoting positive dialogue can help alleviate feelings of isolation from your child.
5. Get ahead of any lunchtime or snack-time challenges. Your school's cafeteria can provide you with upcoming menus, which will help you ensure your child eats a healthy, balanced lunch. Work with your child's doctor or school nurse to come up with a plan for in-school treats and other unplanned eating occasions.
6. Plan for sports, physical education and other activities. In most cases, with your doctor's guidance, your child can participate in physical activities and sports throughout the school year. Just make sure everyone involved knows that you'll need to monitor your child's blood sugar before, during and after any activity.
As the parent of a child with diabetes, you've got a lot on your shoulders. The good news? Before you know it, your child will be asking to take on more responsibilities relating to their care. Be sure to include them as you plan for the upcoming school year to help them see how being prepared makes all the difference.