Every child in Canada deserves a quality education. They deserve to be included and treated like everyone else. They should get to go on school trips and participate in the same activities as the rest of their class. Does he lose these basic rights because he is diagnosed with diabetes?
If you are new to childhood diabetes, it may be in your desire to hold him back from the activities that seem risky. But, that should not be necessary. If your child is under doctors care and his diabetes is being controlled, you should be able to trust that any situation that comes up can be handled in a government institution such as public schools.
There are several types of diabetes. Types 1 & 2 are the most common. The pancreas in the human body produces a hormone called insulin. Insulin regulates the metabolism and helps the glucose (sugar) in the blood break down so it can be used for energy. It helps the excess sugar to go into the liver to be stored until it is needed. This would be like putting fuel in an automobile. The fuel gives the vehicle the ability to function. Without the proper fuel, the vehicle will stop.
Type 1 diabetes is when the body is not producing any insulin at all. The lack of insulin causes a person to lose energy, become disoriented, and starve the organs until they die.
Type 2 diabetes is when the body produces insulin, but not enough to allow the body to function properly. Sometimes, it produces insulin but is unable to use it effectively, leading to the same result as explained above.
Photo credit: Artem Podrez
Keeping blood sugar under control
The priority, especially during school hours, is to keep the blood sugar levels in range. You do this by eating the correct amount and type of food. Your doctor will teach you which foods metabolize slowly and which are faster. Your child needs to eat food that will keep him balanced until his next snack or meal. The amount of activity he does during that time period will also affect him. If he is going on a hike or biking somewhere, he may need a small snack or a few drinks of juice before his normal meal.
The way you monitor his blood sugar is with a blood sugar meter. Ascensia Diabetes Company is the manufacturer of the Contour blood sugar meter. They have a wide range of meters so it is very easy to test his blood sugar and to teach him to use a simple meter to check his own. Ascensia Meters are state-of-the-art, but there are other reasons to use them. Ascensia invented blood sugar meters. They also invented the first portable meter so people could always be prepared. In the 1940s they invented a product that could detect high sugar levels in the urine. In the 1950s they made the first home strip so a person could test their own urine and determine if they were having a problem. For more than 70-years their mission has been to create tools that will allow diabetics to live normal lives. That is the kind of dedication you want behind the products you use for your child.
Photo credit: Artem Podrez
The following information is from diabetes.ca. This is the summary of their position on students living with diabetes in Canadian schools. It is backed up by the Canadian Pediatric Society. Both of these groups are leaders of their industries.
“Students living with diabetes have the right to be full and equal participants in school and all school-related activities without the fear of being excluded, stigmatized, or discriminated against.
School boards should develop and communicate a comprehensive diabetes management policy that includes the roles and responsibilities of the students living with diabetes, their parents/caregivers and school personnel according to Diabetes Canada’s
Guidelines for the Care for Students Living with Diabetes at School
School principals should work with each student living with diabetes, their parents/caregivers and healthcare professionals to develop and communicate to school personnel an Individual Care Plan (ICP) that complies with the student’s prescribed diabetes management regimen. Each ICP should be comprised of a daily management plan and a diabetes emergency plan.
Schools should permit students living with diabetes to monitor their blood glucose (sugar), administer insulin and treat low blood glucose (hypoglycemia) and high blood glucose (hyperglycemia) conveniently and safely wherever and whenever required.
School personnel should be trained to recognize emergency situations and to respond appropriately according to the student’s ICP. School personnel should be trained to administer glucagon in the event of a severe hypoglycemic reaction.”
Please click the link above to see the entire guideline presented to the school council. They also have a lot of information on how to understand and cope with each situation. In our opinion, every adult should read this information. It is part of training for teachers, parents, and anyone who ever comes in contact with a diabetic child. Here is a sample of what is included on their website:
- Children will not outgrow type 1 diabetes
- Insulin is not a cure
- It takes a lot of work to manage diabetes
- Technology is helpful, but it doesn’t work on its own
- Blood sugar levels can change quickly
- Low blood sugar needs immediate attention: If a student feels low, or you suspect a student is low, act right away. Do not leave the student alone. Check blood sugar, and give fast-acting sugar as needed.
- High blood sugar means extra trips to the bathroom: When blood sugar levels are high, the body tries to flush out the extra glucose (sugar) through urine. Children with type 1 diabetes should always have unrestricted access to the washroom.
- Kids with diabetes can still eat sweets
- Even students who are independent may need help managing diabetes.
- Kids with diabetes want to be like everyone else
As you can see, the schools in Canada have a lot of training and support. Teach your child to take care of himself, and to never hesitate to tell the school staff what he needs.