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October 15, 2001

School and Daycare

Question from Millville, New Jersey, USA:

My six year old, diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at the age of two, is very strong-willed and popular. She is milking her diabetes to the hilt at school. She attends a Catholic school, is in kindergarten for the second time, and has a counsellor now who wants to know, in professional terms, how much blood glucose fluctuation affects the ability to learn and behave properly (aside from her mommy's opinion).

Answer:

Any time blood sugars go below 60 mg/dl [3.3 mmol/L], children can have difficulty learning effectively. Moreover, once their blood sugars have been brought into a more appropriate target range, it can still take an hour or two for full mentation to return. Therefore, it is very important to prevent lows in school. In addition, large fluctuations in blood sugars in a day can cause a child to not feel very well, which may lead to decreased concentration. Finally, children with diabetes, especially children who were diagnosed before the age of five, are at increased risk for learning disabilities.

You state that your child is repeating a grade. Was this decision made based on a formal psycho-educational evaluation? Does your child have an Individualized Education Plan to address her educational needs in the classroom? If not, it is vital that your child be evaluated by a psychologist for learning disabilities. It would be such a shame to miss something that can be addressed, and to cause your daughter to feel like she is not a competent learner.

JWB