August 27, 2008
School and Daycare
Question from Albany, Calfornia, USA:
My son is going to a new school next year for sixth grade. In the past, he always had his backpack with diabetes supplies near him (glucagon, strips, tester, syringes). He takes NovoLog/Lantus/NPH (NPH in the morning only for lunch insulin). At lunch, he sometimes needs to take a correction shot of NovoLog (I premix one and two units). He can self administer. He tests before lunch. The school is nervous about having him carrying the insulin syringes in his backpack (other kids may have access). I was thinking to have him wear a fanny pack with his supplies. What do other kids do? For gym class, he would probably have to take the pack off. I don't want him to feel he has to go to the office for insulin. Perhaps in his classroom he can test before the lunch break so a teacher is nearby? Also, do you suggest gym class before lunch or after?
I would suggest that you discuss all of these questions with your child’s diabetes health care team. Your child’s doctor and nurse educator would have a better idea of how they would recommend that your child’s diabetes be managed in his school based on your child’s individual needs and also based on the laws in your state. The laws can vary from state to state about where a child with diabetes is able to check his/her blood sugar and/or administer insulin in school. I also wonder how other children with diabetes in the new school manage their diabetes in school so you may want to talk to the school nurse in the new school.
Additional comments from Dr. David Schwartz:
You need to have a 504 and possibly IEP conference with the school. Hopefully, this is a public school who must be able to “accommodate” in some fashion. If they meet with resistance, I wouldn’t hesitate to get the assistance of the ADA advocate folks.
That said, he should be able to have easy access to his diabetes supplies. With proper “education,” most schools are accommodating, especially larger schools given that they probably already have children with diabetes enrolled in their school AND they may have higher student-to-teacher ratios.
A small fanny pack may be adequate. Be prepared, these early years into adolescence can be trying for the early teen trying to “fit in.” Don’t allow his diabetes to be a stigma, rather, it should be seen as just another “everyday thing.” If he’s had diabetes for some time, then many of his peers will not allow other kids to mess with his stuff. Still, he/you/teachers need to assure that when his backpack or fanny pack is taken off, it is in a secure spot.