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March 14, 2002

School and Daycare

Question from Chillicothe, Ohio, USA:

My eight year old niece, diagnosed with type 1 diabetes two years ago, has not had many problems, but now she is having trouble going to school. She absolutely refuses to go and goes into an crying fit every morning saying that her belly hurts and that she doesn't feel good. She is a very active child and is a cheerleader at the school. She has always loved school and has been on the honor roll every time. She tells me that there isn't anything going on at school, but she doesn't want to participate in gym, recess, or eat in the cafeteria. Just about the only way she will go to school is if she knows that I will be in my car right outside of the school. She goes to the office two or three times a day to check her sugar, which is usually high or low. I'm in contact with the doctor every couple of days, and the principal is also involved with her care, but I'm at a loss. I don't know if she doesn't feel safe at school or what.The staff in the office are great with her and reassure her that everything is okay. What should I do?

Answer:

It’s unclear to me whether diabetes has anything to do with your niece’s fear of school or not. Either way, your niece needs to work with a mental health professional so that she can overcome her fears. As you already know, the worst thing you can do is allow her to stay home, as the more she avoids school, the scarier it will become.

Call your niece’s diabetes team and/or her pediatrician to get recommendations for mental health professionals with expertise in children with anxiety or fears.

JWB