Back to School After A Type 1 Diabetes Diagnosis

I know first hand how nerve wracking it can be to think about sending your child back to school after a Type 1 Diabetes diagnosis. You just became your child’s caregiver and you are learning how to manage your child’s diabetes. In addition, your family is getting used to a new lifestyle, and you are worried about your child’s health and emotional well-being. It may all feel overwhelming, it definitely was for me, but it will be OK. As nervous as it made me, figuring out diabetes management at school was not as impossible as I thought it was going to be. What really made a difference for us is having an open channel of communicating with school. It proved essential to making sure everything is planned to enable our son to succeed emotionally and academically at school.

Is Type 1 Diabetes a Disability?

Did you know that Type 1 Diabetes is considered a disability under the Americans with Diabetes Act (ADA)? Substantially limited endocrine functions. This is necessary to note because based on the provisions in the ADA, public schools provide the accommodations needed for your child to success at school. Subsequently, A health plan and a 504 Plan is put in place. Please see my other post about 504 plans “What’s a 504 Plan? What to Include in it?“.

School Paperwork & Process

Going back to school after being diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes can be challenging, but it is certainly possible to manage the condition while keeping a few things in mind:

  1. Communicate with the school: It’s important to let the school know about your child’s diagnosis and any specific needs they may have, such as medication schedules or dietary restrictions. Talk to your child’s teachers, school nurse, and other staff to ensure they are aware of the situation and how to handle it.
  2. Before the beginning of the school school year (or during, depending on diagnosis date), schedule an appointment with your child’s endocrinology team to create a Diabetes Medical Management Plan (DMMP). The DMMP will be used to create your child’s school Health Plan. The DMMP details information like insulin to carb ratios, basal ratio, and any medical devices your child uses like a Pump or CGM (Continuous Glucose Monitor).  
  3. Plan on a meeting with the school district nurse to create a school Health Plan. This Health Plan will be used by he school nurse and/or trained diabetes management staff.
  4. A meeting should be scheduled with the school administration to create a 504 Plan (Section 504 of the U.S. Rehabilitation Act of 1973). This plan is reviewed annually. See my post about 504 plan here.
  5. Teach your child self-care skills: As your child gets older, it’s important for them to learn how to manage their diabetes independently. Teach them how to check their blood glucose levels, and recognize signs of high or low blood sugar.
  6. Consider technology: There are many tools available to help manage diabetes, including continuous glucose monitors and insulin pumps. Talk to your child’s healthcare provider about whether these tools may be appropriate for your child.
  7. Educate classmates and teachers: Help your child’s classmates and teachers understand what diabetes is and how it affects your child. Encourage them to ask questions and be supportive.
  8. Plan for emergencies: Make sure the school has a plan in place in case of a diabetes-related emergency. This may include having glucagon on hand and ensuring that staff are trained on how to administer it.
  9. Overall, going back to school with type 1 diabetes requires planning, communication, and education. With the right support, your child can thrive in school and manage their diabetes effectively.

Check out my other post “Type 1 Diabetes Back to School List” to take a look at the list of medications, supplies, and snacks I send to school every year.

*Please note that this is our personal experience and it should not be taken as medical advice. Please consult your medical team if you have any questions regarding diabetes management and your health.

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