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October 17, 2001

School and Daycare

Question from Kitts Hill, Ohio, USA:

Prior to my seven year old daughter's diagnosis of type 1 diabetes (about a year and a half ago), she did very well in school, but now the teacher says she just stares off into space when she's supposed to be doing her work, and her grades are dropping. She's very moody, and her sugar has been going up before lunch even if she hasn't eaten much breakfast. Can her diabetes be affecting her schoolwork? She says her eyes get tired. I filed for SSI, and they told me that sometimes the way a child deals with an illness is a disability within itself. Can the way she's dealing with diabetes, affect her schoolwork?


There is growing evidence that changes in blood glucose do affect how children with type�1 diabetes concentrate in school. No doubt low blood glucoses (hypoglycemia) are important, but new studies give new light to how elevated blood glucoses (hyperglycemia) affects school work. You don’t indicate what her insulin regimen is but if she is getting higher readings at lunch time, this suggests that she needs more fast-acting insulin in the morning. If she eats a mid-morning snack, then I will presume she is on Regular with breakfast and this may need to be increased. If she does not receive a mid-morning snack, then I presume she is on Humalog or Novolog at breakfast. Discuss your daughter’s insulin regimen and meal plan with her diabetes team.”Smoothing-out” her glucose readings may do her a lot of good. Also, consider asking her teachers for an IEP to individualize her school work plan.

Yes, her attitude and emotional response to her diabetes can affect her work. Even young children can get depressed. While I would focus on the glucose levels primarily, her diabetes team can help you touch base with a psychologist. Hooray for you for wanting to be so proactive.


[Editor’s comment: See The Law, Schools, and Your Child with Diabetes for an explanation of the IEP.