(BPT) - Between figuring out after-school schedules and seemingly constant school supply shopping trips, back-to-school time can be stressful for any parent. But some parents have more to think about than others. There are about 208,000 boys and girls under the age of 20 living with diabetes, according to the American Diabetes Association, and parents of these children need to take steps to ensure their kids are safe in school.
Diabetes management is 24 hours a day, including both the many hours spent in the classroom and at other school events. As a parent of a child with diabetes, you need to feel confident that when you send your child to school, he or she will feel medically safe, be treated fairly and receive the same educational opportunities as every other student.
Reduce the amount of stress you feel in sending your child to school with these three simple steps:
Stay informed and have a plan.Get the facts about legal protections for your child. Federal laws and many states have laws that protect children with diabetes from discrimination and require schools to meet the diabetes management needs of students. First, update your child's Diabetes Medical Management Plan or physician's orders so you can provide your child's school with the information they'll need. This is also a good time to develop or update a Section 504 Plan or Individualized Education Program (IEP) that sets out accommodations and modifications needed by your child to safely and fully participate in all school activities.
Pay attention to staff basic diabetes training.Every school staff member who is responsible for a child with diabetes should receive training on the basics of diabetes. These staff members should understand the daily needs of a child and know how to identify and get help in a diabetes emergency.
Get to know the school nurse or health coordinator.The school nurse or school health coordinator is not only the coordinator but also the primary provider of diabetes care for your child. Be sure your child is comfortable with the school nurse as he or she is usually the main person responsible for making sure your child is safe. Additionally, a small group of school staff, preferably a group that interacts with your child often, should be trained by a health professional to provide both routine and emergency care in the event that the school nurse is unavailable. Provide the supplies, insulin and food your child will need and make sure they're in an accessible location.
Advocate for self-management.Capable students should be permitted to self-manage their diabetes anywhere, anytime. If your child self-manages he or she should be allowed to carry supplies, medication and food.
Follow these tips to get into a smooth back-to-school routine where you can feel at ease while your child has the freedom to learn and grow.
If you don't feel comfortable and confident in the care your child is receiving at school or if you feel your child is being treated unfairly, contact the American Diabetes Association for assistance.