January 14, 2007
Question from Kingwood, Texas, USA:
Is there a list of approximate ages for certain type 1 diabetes tasks? For example, at what age should a teen start renewing his own prescriptions, making his own doctor's appointments, etc.?
The Ten Keys to Helping Your Child Grow Up With Diabetes by Dr. Tim Wysocki, available through the American Diabetes Association is a great resource and spells out when children may be able to assume selected tasks. While the book provides some guidelines, parents are generally the best judge of their child’s development and capabilities.
As you think about what things your child could begin to take on, consider both age and persistence. Is he or she the right age? Has he already shown responsibility in other areas (keeping room clean, taking care of a pet, doing homework or chores)? Can he follow through with a task (the persistence part)? Sometimes, children will eagerly take on a new responsibility, but have trouble continuing with the task. In that case, consider sharing the responsibility for awhile.
In any event, set clear expectations and build in some supervision and support initially as your child takes on more. Be prepared in case your child really was not fully ready to take over. Avoid handing off a task without providing back-up, coaching, and guidance as needed.
[Editor’s comment: You might want to consult with your pharmacy about prescriptions. While he might be allowed to call in refills, if he is not 18, your son may not be allowed to pick them up.