The first reaction of a parent when they come to know that their child has diabetes may be SHOCK, ANGER, DENIAL, GRIEF…. It seems like a life sentence of continuous care, monitoring, glucose checks and insulin shots. Not only the child, but his hisparents , siblings and the whole house hold is disturbed. The whole family has to change their lifestyle, but the good news is that they have to adopt a healthier lifestyle of healthy eating and staying active. It is best to get over the initial shock and grief period soon, accept the reality and start working together as a family. The sooner the better…. There is no harm in getting professional help at this initial stage to learn how to cope with diabetes. Parents need to pay special consideration to the needs of their diabetic child in certain special situations.
At School: Initially parents take care of all the needs of their diabetic children. Then kids gradually learn to do it by themselves. Young children spend 6-8 hours of their day in school, during that time it is the school’s responsibility to take care of their diabetes. Parents are often worried whether their child will be safe in school. It is important to discuss your child’s medical condition with school authorities at the time of admission. Provide them with written information. The class teacher or school nurse/doctor should be trained about injecting insulin, checking blood glucose etc.
- Special precaution should be taken at meal times, avoid snacks that are too sweet or high in carbs, extra snacks should be available at all times to be given at times of hypoglycemia
- Diabetic kids need to go to toilet frequently, teachers should allow them as needed
- There should be proper place allocated for glucose testing and insulin injection if needed. School nurse or teacher should assist the child in doing so
- Diabetic children should be allowed to participate in all sports activities. They should take a snack during or after exercise to prevent hypoglycemia
- Class teacher and class fellows should be trained to recognize symptoms of hypoglycemia, and how to treat hypoglycemia.do not put any food in an unconscious child’s mouth as it can choke him. School authorities should know when to refer to a hospital.
- Diabetic children will need sick leaves more than other children
- During exams special attempt is needed to minimize stress for the child, because stress can raise blood sugar. Child should be allowed to use toilet or take snacks even during the exam.
Read our article ‘’HOW TO COPE WITH DIABETES IN SCHOOL’’on www.sugartoday.info
At parties: There should be no reason why your kid can not enjoy birthday parties, eids or family weddings. They can enjoy all the fun games and activities with other kids.When it comes to food, they can enjoy wide variety of party snacks that are suitable for diabetics, I case of sweets and cakes, allow your child small helpings of these treats once in a while,at the same time cutting down some other calorie source. D not forget to inject insulin before the party food.You can also suggest your hosts before hand about some party snack options diabetic kids can enjoy.
Holidays away from home: It does not mean that families with diabetic kids can not enjoy a holiday away from home. They just need to be well organized to carry all the essential supplies needed to manage diabetes during the holiday away from home and there should be adequate emergency medical care available in the holiday location. As a precaution carry extra insulin and syringes, extra glucometer strips and batteries in case your holiday is prolonged due to some reason
Travel: Special care should be taken during long journeys and travel especially air travel. Don’t forget to take glucometer, test strips, insulin in a cold box, extra syringes for the journey. Patient should be carrying diabetes prescription and ID card telling that he is diabetic, dose of insulin and steps to do in case of hypoglycemia. Also carry carbohydrate snacks to be used in case of hypoglycemia. Your travel companion should know you are a diabetic and how to detect symptoms of hypoglycemia and how to respond in such situation.
Sick days: Type 1 patients tend to get sick with cold flu fever or other infections commonly and during sick days there is release of stress hormones in the body. Stress hormones tend to raise blood glucose level. Insulin dose will have to be increased according to blood sugar. Special care about diet and rest during sick days. Very high blood glucose during infection can also lead to ketoacidosis that needs hospitalization and treatment. Patients will be off from school or work during sick days.
Laws to prevent discrimination: Diabetic children have special needs in school and college like special place to check blood glucose and insulin administration, allowing frequent snacks during school hours, frequent trips to toilet, special needs during exams, facility to reappear in exam if performance in exam was not up to the mark due to hypoglycemia In America there are laws that protect the diabetic citizens against all forms of discrimination in school or later in jobs. In Pakistan there are no such laws as yet, but Diabetics institute Pakistan is working to protect these patients legally by discussing and advising school authorities and employers to give them equal opportunity and prevent discrimination.
Diabetes Camps: In year 2000, diabetes institute Pakistan arranged a week long summer camp in the beautiful hill station murree where a group of type 1 diabetic children accompanied by DIP doctors and staff enjoyed a vacation and during fun and activities they learned ways to manage their diabetes in a better way. The children gained self confidence as they learned to take care of their diabetes independently without help of their parents. They made friends with other diabetic children and found out that they are not the only one with this disease. In future we plan to hold other such activities for our juvenile club.