Some children do not want anyone outside the family to know that they have diabetes. However, it may be helpful for your child to tell their close friends what to do, especially if a hypo occurs when they are at school.
Your child will need the help of their peers and may need a guiding hand to deal with classmates and friends.
Some children may be happy to ‘show and tell’ about having diabetes. If your child has had diabetes from an early age they may have told everyone – a lot depends on their personality. Other children may be more private in which case your advice as to how to go about telling their friends may be helpful. Together you can practice what to say.
Your child might like to do a school project on diabetes to tell their classmates how it is to have diabetes – for example, they could show how they use their meter. This may increase confidence through teaching their friends.
School events may motivate your child to help in self-care – for example, learning to correctly treat hypos so that they may attend sports events or school excursions.
Your child may be keen to sleep-over at a friend or relative’s house which may provide a gentle push to take on responsibility for some diabetes related tasks – seize every opportunity you can.
Having a small group of your child’s close friends see how the equipment is used, and directing simple, age appropriate discussion can help the more sensitive child.
Education days or support groups may be organised by your local diabetes centre to help you and your child meet other children with diabetes and their parents.
Camps are invaluable to help you and your child feel less isolated. In some states there are parent/child weekend camps which provide an introduction to the concept of the camping experience. Your child may then graduate to other camps throughout their childhood right up to adolescence.
Contact Diabetes NSW or Diabetes Australia in other states for information about camps.
Going back to school after diagnosis
After diagnosis you may be reluctant to let your child out of your sight to go to school. For you and your child’s sake it is a good time to encourage independence and adapt to diabetes.
To take this step you must feel comfortable that your child will be safe as well as happy.
You can ask your diabetes educator to visit the school to talk to the staff so that they in turn feel comfortable with the situation. The teachers are usually helpful and only too pleased to assist. There are many useful resources on this website to assist teachers and schools.
It’s safer for your child to remain in class to check their blood glucose level (BGL), rather than walking to the office. Otherwise their BGL will drop even lower and be harder to treat.
As you child gets older they may be embarrassed if you go to school to check their blood glucose level (BGL). Your child’s meter should be taken to school for them to test as necessary.
It is essential for you to provide one or two hypo kits for the school staff to store in a prominent, handy place. Remember to restock hypo kits regularly. A photograph of your child placed in the staff room with details of hypo symptoms is also helpful. An emergency action poster next to the photo, as a reminder, is a good idea.
Your child should wear some type of diabetes identification chain or bracelet. This habit is a good one to encourage at a young age as they may maintain the habit as they get older.
Encourage your child to speak up if feeling unwell. Friends and peers can be a great help at school.
Your child may be eligible for special provision for exams (e.g. Basic Skills Test in NSW for children in year 3 and 5). This may allow your child extra time and toilet or rest breaks. Discuss with your child’s school, well before the exam date.
For more information on diabetes at school please go to the teachers and schools page.
Special provision for exams
Your child may be eligible for special provision for exams (e.g. NAPLAN Test in NSW for children in year 3, 5, 7 and 9). This may allow your child extra time and toilet or rest breaks.
Provisions are made on an individual basis with recommendations from your doctor.
You can obtain further information from your teenager’s school, Diabetes Australia or The Department of Education. Or go to Useful Links to see a list of contacts in your State or Territory.