Every child and their T1D journey will be different and will therefore have different needs and parameters. Speak to your child’s school and establish a partnership with them on how to best support your son or daughter.
It is important for your child’s school to be made aware of the diagnosis.
Your paediatric endocrinologist and/or the diabetes educator will be able to prepare a school diabetes management plan. This will help to provide information about schedules, emergencies and the framework for your child. The school in turn may have its own procedures or policies that must be adhered to. This may involve the procedure for injections or monitoring blood glucose levels.
Having contact and building a relationship with your childs school will hopefully build a strong foundation where you child will feel safe and comfortable.
Exams and Provisions
Depending on which state of Australia your child attends school, there are different learning provisions that may apply. Generally, there are no set provisions for exams until Years 11 and 12 and up until this time, it is deemed ‘Principal Determined’.
Currently, there are no National Guidelines surrounding diabetes in schools, however, a report was published by Diabetes Australia in January 2017 calling for reform in this area.
Click on your State for current Diabetic Provisions.
Effects of Glucose on the Brain
Studies have been conducted and research exists on how a ‘hypo’ and ‘hyper’ can affect the brain. It can be very difficult for children to focus and retain information during these times.
Though there is a great amount of attention given to the effects of diabetes on the peripheral nervous system, it is important not to overlook the disease’s effects on our brains. While other organs in the body may rely on alternative sources of energy, such as fatty acids, the brain relies almost solely on glucose, using ketones as a last resort. For this reason, the blood brain barrier is rich in Glut1 active glucose transporters, and over 99% of the glucose that passes it is used by neurons and glia. Thus, the metabolic efficiency and continuous demands of the brain render it uniquely susceptible to fluctuations in glucose concentration in the body.
In an article published in 2014 (https://www.diapedia.org/associated-disorders/61047161570/effects-of-glucose-on-the-brain), it was found that both hyperglycemia and hypoglycemia can have detrimental effects on cognition as well as mood. The most common manifestations of cognitive deficit are neural slowing, attention deficit, and executive functioning.
Taken directly from the Diabetes Australia website, young people with diabetes are able to participate fully in school life. However, there are aspects of school life that can affect diabetes, for example sports, break times, school camps and exams. Because of this, it’s important that the school knows whether a student has diabetes. The school has a duty of care to create a safe environment and adequate supervision.
Tips for students on how to tell their teacher and friends is available on the MyD site, a dedicated website for young people with diabetes, developed by NDSS.
Mastering Diabetes is a new NDSS resource to help families, teachers and paediatric endocrinology teams. It has been designed to help teachers and families support children with type 1 diabetes at school and preschool, helping children to learn, grow and have fun. It is available as a PDF or an eBook.
Duty of Care
Schools have a legal responsibility to provide:
- a safe environment
- adequate supervision.
When the school knows that certain students have diabetes, staff (including relief staff) need to know enough about diabetes to ensure the safety of those students (especially in regard to hypoglycaemia and safety in sport). Parents/guardians have a responsibility to advise the school of their child’s medical condition and the particular requirements for the management of their child’s diabetes. For children with special requirements, a written individual management plan incorporating medical recommendations should be developed with the school in collaboration with the parents/guardians and doctor. This should be attached to the student’s records.
- The NDSS has created a new resource, after receiving requests for material to help children with type 1 diabetes at preschool and schools. This booklet, called Mastering Diabetes, was created with the help of families, teachers and paediatric endocrinology teams. It has been designed to help teachers and families support children with type 1 diabetes at school and preschool, helping children to learn, grow and have fun. It includes information about looking after young people with type 1 diabetes in preschool and school, how to build strong communication lines between families and schools and outlines the responsibilities of teachers and other school staff. You can download it as an eBook and as a PDF.
- Queensland have developed an educational booklet about managing type 1 diabetes at school to give to teachers and coaches. The booklet that can be emailed or printed- Students with Diabetes
- Diabetes Victoria have a great webpage on school diabetes management plans titled Relieving Back to School Anxieties
- Diabetes NSW has launched www.as1diabetes.com.au that provides explanations, ideas, links and resources to support young people living with diabetes and those around them to better understand diabetes and how it influences their lives
- NDSS has a dedicated site for young people with diabetes MyD
Mukherji, Shamik, Jacobson, Alan. Effects of glucose on the brain [internet]. 2014 Aug 13; Diapedia 61047161570 rev. no. 6. Available from:https://doi.org/10.14496/dia.61047161570.6