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Ask the Expert: Back-to-School Plan for Children with Diabetes

July 31, 2019

Posted in Parenting,Endocrinology

August is here which means it’s almost time to say goodbye to summer and hello to a new school year. Planning and preparation are necessary to help ensure that all children are ready to go back to school, but this is especially true for children with type 1 and type 2 diabetes.

According to the American Diabetes Association, approximately 193,000 Americans under the age of 20 are estimated to have diagnosed diabetes. In 2011-2012, 17,900 youth under the age of 19 were diagnosed with type 1 diabetes and 5,300 with type 2 diabetes.

It's crucial for young diabetes patients and their families to have the necessary supplies on hand and communicate with school staff about what to do in case of an emergency. Diabetes Educator Morgan Butler and the rest of the team at the Arkansas Children’s Diabetes Clinic care for children and teens with endocrine disorders. Butler recently joined THV11 in Little Rock to discuss back-to-school considerations for children with diabetes.

“Whether the kiddo is going back to school freshly diagnosed from the summer or this is their 10th year back to school, everyone needs a back-to-school plan in place,” she said.

 

Diabetes School Orders

A diabetes school order is a plan that outlines all necessary information to be given to a school nurse or other administrator for any child with diabetes. The document provides detailed schedules for when to test blood glucose levels, how and when to administer insulin, and treatment options for hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) and hyperglycemia (high blood sugar). The diabetes school order also provides special considerations for children with diabetes at school parties, gym class and field trips. You can download the school order here.

“The plan describes how to dose insulin, what to do in the event of low blood sugar or high blood sugar and what to do with exercise,” said Butler. “It is a very comprehensive plan that explains to the school nurse, or whoever is caring for the child if there’s not a school nurse, what to do step by step.”

 

Diabetes Kits

The ACH Diabetes Clinic recommends all children with diabetes have a compact kit with all of the supplies and equipment they need at all times. These kits should include:

  • a meter to detect a blood glucose level
  • insulin
  • snacks
  • pen needles
  • an insulin pump
  • an emergency glucagon kit.

 

The emergency glucagon kit is an injection used to increase blood sugar levels in people with diabetes quickly. These kits are necessary when a child’s low blood sugar causes them to have a seizure or pass out. It will rapidly bring their blood sugar back up to a healthy level and could be the difference in saving their life during a hypoglycemic event.

“We always tell families who have a child with diabetes that these things should be with them at all times,” Butler said. “This is just kind of a compact kit that should go to school with them.”

 

When to Develop Diabetes Plans

With school starting in a few short weeks now is the time to get everything in place if you haven’t already. Butler recommends talking to your child's doctor to finalize the diabetes school order at least two weeks before school starts. Assemble and organize the diabetes kit so your child can take it to school on the first day. The ACH Diabetes Clinic also provides other resources for parents, including educational videos and patient instructions for sick days.

The Arkansas Children’s Diabetes Clinic treats both newly diagnosed and follow-up diabetes patients, offering a broad multidisciplinary approach to diabetes management. Patients of the Diabetes Clinic are seen at the ACH West Little Rock Clinic, located at 16101 Cantrell Road Suite 114. For a new appointment, call 501-236-4949. You can also reach the Arkansas Children’s Diabetes Team by email at diabetesnurse@archildrens.org.

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