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From Ottawa, Ontario, Canada:

My son was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at four years old. He's now eight and a half. The first few years of his treatment went well and he seemed to discipline himself well also. Yet, his levels still can be up and down. Over these years, he can have successive days of perfect behavior such as on a recent one-week trip to Florida. Mostly though, his behavior is awful. This seemed to evolve since his diagnosis, though more so in the last two years. He swears, yells for no reason and blames others for his own behavior. At school, he interrupts any teacher he doesn't respect and has been sent out of class several times this year. Teachers tells us that other kids seem to like him but he has no friends at school. We do discipline him at home with time outs, loss of privileges, etc. and explain that he can't use diabetes as an excuse but we're not getting anywhere.

My husband and I are trying to get him a pump this year to better regulate his levels. We're also going to take him to a psychologist.You say diabetes doesn't cause mood swings, but you have a very high correlation of questions asking about them. With treatment, how long approximately can I expect my son to act and feel this way? Will his anger ever end? Also, what are the long term effects of this behavior going to be on my ten year old daughter? I feel our whole family is being beaten down a little more every day.


Your son and your family are clearly suffering from how angry and frustrated, and perhaps even sad, your son is feeling. It must be so difficult for him to not have ways of expressing his feelings that do not get him into trouble. He must also be feeling very lonely if he has no friends.

Vastly fluctuating blood sugars can certainly make someone feel moody and irritable. Severe low blood sugars can also lead to aggressive behaviors while the person is low. However, the kinds of consistent behavior problems you are describing should not have anything to do with his blood sugars. That said, his difficulties with his mood and behavior could be, in part, due to his reaction to living with the unfair illness of diabetes.

The most important thing you can do is seek professional help. Your son needs to see a psychologist or other mental health professional who not only can do a comprehensive diagnostic evaluation to determine the underlying cause of your son's difficulties, but also this person should be able to comfortably work with you as his parents in family therapy, as well as individually with your son to teach him the strategies he needs to more effectively manage his thoughts, feelings and behavior. Sometimes it may take meeting a few clinicians before you find the right fit. Do not give up.


Original posting 20 May 2004
Posted to Behavior


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Last Updated: Tuesday April 06, 2010 15:09:56
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