Taking Diabetes to School

It’s September, which means it’s back to school time!

I have always loved school and find comfort and security in the routine of the school year. However, for the parents of the more than 206,000 kids with diabetes, school can be a beast that seems untamable.

So let’s tame the beast

Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973: If you live in a state that does not have statutory requirements for treatment of children with diabetes at school (which is the case for most of us), you can request a 504 plan under the American’s With Disabilities Act. This plan requires that the child with diabetes be cared for in a specific way that is agreed upon by the parents, doctors and the school. It is sometimes difficult to obtain the plan, but it is possible and can be worth it.

To qualify, a child must have a record of medical need. When the child has such a record, a school can lose federal funding if it does not attend to the child appropriately. A school cannot refuse to allow a child with diabetes the same opportunities as other children nor penalize the child because of diabetes.

Remember, the school should prepare a plan that outlines how the child’s needs will be met, including emergency strategies. The parents should be present during the development of this plan and should revise it annually.

For more information visit: www.childrenwithdiabetes.com.

The site will walk you through how to set up a 504 plan with you child’s school.

Know You Child’s Rights

Even with all the available resources, there are still many misunderstandings about students with diabetes and their rights. We must remember that parents of children with diabetes are within their rights to require proper treatment for their child in the school setting or while the child is under school care.

Here’s the bottom line:

  1. All staff with responsibility for a child with diabetes should be trained to have a basic understanding of diabetes that includes the student’s particular needs and how to recognize an emergency.
  2. A small group of school personnel should be trained by a healthcare professional to treat and manage any diabetes emergency, including basic medical procedures, such as glucose testing and emergency glucagon injections for treating severe hypoglycemia.

Resources for Keeping You and Your School-Aged Child Well-Informed

Without information, we are like a gardener without a rake or shovel. But there are plenty of seeds, tools and helpers available.

All of these resources provide guidance to school staff members and offer hope to students with diabetes and their parents.

  • “Helping the Student With Diabetes Succeed: A Guide for School Personnel,” a great new publication from the National Institutes of Health, is available at http://ndep.nih.gov/get-info/children.htm.
  • www.childrenwithdiabetes.com — a resource for school related information, sample 504 plans and school management plans. Plus, scores of stories of life with diabetes at school from other patients and parents.
  • “Taking Diabetes to School” (Special Kids in Schools Series, No 1) by Kim Gosselin is available on www.amazon.com.
  • Rufus and Ruby, the Teddy Bears With Diabetes by RUSS. Call customer service at (800)-272-7877.
  • The American Diabetes Association’s advocacy page on diabetes at school: Taking Diabetes to School.
  • The Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation’s Web site also has school information. Look under “life with diabetes,” then “school.”

Did You Know…
that high school students with diabetes are entitled to special accommodations during standardized tests (SAT,ACT)? These typically include “stop the clock” breaks for glucose testing, bathroom visits or glucose treatments.

Nicole Johnson Baker and GNC Team Up to Educate People About Pre-Diabetes

On July 7, 2004, Nicole Johnson Baker teamed up with Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania-based General Nutrition Centers, Inc. (GNC)—the nation’s largest specialty retailer of nutritional supplements—to launch a public education campaign to help consumers understand diabetes and “pre-diabetes.”

One in five Americans has diabetes or pre-diabetes, yet a majority of them may not even realize it. The GNC campaign will specifically educate Americans about the risk factors associated with diabetes.

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