Working with schools
We have a “school talk” with the families, as I call it. We have a medication order form that we give the family for them to bring to school. I also show them a list of supplies that they’re going to bring in whatever kind of bag they want, like a zip lock, and it’s basically just going to sit in a drawer at school and be pulled out once a day for a blood sugar check.

Maureen Powers, RN , DNE, Registered Nurse


Getting the school involved
I think the school is an important player in optimal diabetes control and management. The school nurse absolutely needs to be involved. The challenges that we have is sometimes a child goes to a school that has either a part time nurse or no nurse at all. But the school needs to be involved in the diabetes care. On a very basic level, they need to know safety issues. They need to know what a “high” looks like and what a “low” looks like. If your child is asking to go to the bathroom a lot, it may not necessarily be because they’re trying to skip out of a test, it may very well be because they feel high or low. It is also important to make sure that the school nurse is able to communicate easily with the diabetes educators here and to make sure that school orders are up and complete

Jennifer Rein, LICSW, Licensed Social Worker


Educating your child’s classmates
Children often want help in trying to decide if they should tell their friends about their diagnosis and what information they should share. It is important to help kids find a balance between the desire for privacy and not feeling ashamed about their diagnosis. Soon after diagnosis it is often helpful to encourage the child to tell a few of his/her closest friends about his/her diabetes and its treatment. In time, many children decide that they want their entire classroom to know and choose to do a presentation in school. I have heard many children remark that their friends often help to remind them to check their blood glucose and take their insulin.

Lauren Mednick, PhD, Clinical Psychologist


Learning disorders and MCAS testing
There is a wonderful resource on the ADA website about how to help a child with diabetes at school. Something similar to a 504 plan can be created that will focus in on the daily schedule of the child and the specific needs of the child that need to be met. Many of these kids may have learning issues or may be predisposed to developing a learning disorder. Some may have difficulty focusing in school and a neuropsychological evaluation might be needed. MCAS testing can be a major issue as well. It is a stressful situation and the child’s blood sugar can be neither too high nor too low for him or her to do well and pass the MCAS. Diabetes extends the amount of work that needs to be done in order for the child to succeed in school. It’s important to remember that this can be done.

Maryanne Quinn, MD, Physician


504 plans
A 504 Plan is a formal written plan that clearly outlines accommodations for students with disabilities. The term originates from the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and has been modified most recently by the Americans with Disabilities Act. Children who have been diagnosed with Type I diabetes are considered disabled because they have a “physical impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities.” Therefore, they qualify for accommodations in school through a 504 Plan. This is a very practical document that includes very simple and basic accommodations. For example, going to the school nurse a few minutes before lunch to test, is a common accommodation written into a 504 Plan. Frequently, I find that families don’t use a 504 plan because they have worked so hard to establish a relationship with the school or the school nurse. I recommend scheduling an appointment with the school nurse and any other school personnel who may be helpful in creating a 504 plan to begin the process of writing a 504 Plan.

Jennifer Rein, LICSW, Licensed Social Worker