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March 16, 2003

School and Daycare

Question from Minnesota, USA:

My son just had a third year re-evaluation of his ">IEP, and now they say they want to drop the learning disability part. I disagree because his blood sugars are not regular and off the charts, and most of the time, he has trouble concentrating on his learning. He also is at a third grade level in reading and math. Please help me make them understand the disability a child with diabetes could have.


I would suggest that you have a complete evaluation done for the learning disability. There are many other causes, and diabetes typically does not contribute to a learning delay.

I would also suggest that you contact his diabetes physician and arrange for a consultation about his diabetes numbers that are “off the chart”. Your son likely needs to have frequent re-evaluation to assist you with maintaining improved blood sugar control.

Additional comments from Dr. Jill Weissberg-Benchell:

If the child was just re-evaluated, that means he just finished another psychological and educational evaluation by the school. If they’re dropping the learning disability label, then he no longer has significant discrepancies between his achievement and his IQ. If you concerned about the accuracy or quality of the school’s evaluation, you may want to consult with a child psychologist in the community to review the school’s findings.

Diabetes does not automatically cause learning problems. However, wide variations in blood sugars during the school day can make a child not feel particularly well, and could cause some difficulties in paying attention. If this is true for your child, then he will need to work very closely with the diabetes team to decrease the blood sugar variations. However, that’s a medical issue, not a school issue, even though it may impact on his achievement in the short-run.