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January 6, 2002

School and Daycare

Question from Bristol, Wisconsin, USA:

My 10 year old son, diagnosed with type 1 diabetes eight weeks ago, has had a difficult time with school since being diagnosed. He gets only eight hours of sleep (with being awakened at 2:00 am), spends seven hours at school, and comes home with usually an hour of homework (which takes two hours because he's so tired and frustrated). Today was his first day back to school after a holiday break of 12 days during which he got at least ten hours of sleep a night and a much needed break from school work.. Yesterday he became anxious and upset that he was going to have to go back to school, he became sad, and his blood sugars were high (while during the whole break, he had finally been mainly in his target range). He felt sick to his stomach this morning (which was nerves) and cried because he wants to be home schooled which I am strongly considering. Do you have any advice in this matter?

Answer:

What, exactly, is your son worried about at school? That he will be teased? That he will have a low? That no one will be able to keep him healthy or safe? It is vital to find out what his exact concerns are, and then to be sure that he does not need to have those worries. You will need to enlist the support of your school personnel in this so that he is assured by both you and the school that he is perfectly safe in school. Diabetes should not prevent your son from being successful in school. If you home-school him, only because he has diabetes, then he learns that he is different and can not manage the world like his peers can. That’s a terrible message to give a child.

If you cannot figure out what he’ s worried about, and/or if your school is not able to support you in assuring him he’s safe, then you need to seek the help of a mental health professional who has expertise in working with children with chronic illness. You and your son can work with such a person to learn strategies to manage worry/fear in a way that does not affect his health, and in a way that helps him return to school like all of the other children in his class. Good luck during this difficult time.

JWB