Help for Kids with Diabetes

What kind of help do I need?

  • A doctor with experience treating children with diabetes
  • A pediatrician
  • A diabetes teacher or nurse
  • A dietitian
  • A social worker
  • In some cases, a psychologist and an exercise specialist

What books and magazines will help? From the American Diabetes Association (1.800.232.6733 or www.diabetes.org)

  • The Ten Keys to Helping Your Child Grow Up With Diabetes
  • Sweet Kids: How to Balance Diabetes Control and Good Nutrition with Family Peace
  • The Dinosaur Tamer and Other Stories for Children with Diabetes
  • Diabetes Forecast-a monthly magazine for people with diabetes

From the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (1.800.533.2873 or www.jdrf.org)

  • It's Time to Learn About Diabetes
  • Everyone Likes to Eat: How Children Can Eat Most of the Foods They Enjoy and Still Take Care of Their Diabetes
  • In Control: A Guide For Teens with Diabetes
  • The Diabetic Athlete
  • Countdown for Kids - a magazine for kids with diabetes
  • What about diabetes camp? For a list of camps, call your American Diabetes Association office or the American Camping Association at 765.342.8456. Also, Children with Diabetes has a website that will give you a listing of camps at www.childrenwithdiabetes.com.

What about working with my child's school? Here are a few tips:

- Give the school a diabetes care plan. Include: -- Name of your child, picture, age, teacher's name or classroom name. -- Staff members who are trained to help him/her with diabetes. -- Goal blood sugar ranges. -- When and how to do blood sugar level checks. Can he/she do the test on his own? -- If your child takes insulin, include types of insulin, how much insulin and what time he/she should take it. -- When does my child eat? How much does he/she eat? What to do if he/she chooses not to eat. -- What are the signs, symptoms and treatment of high blood sugar? -- When and how do you test for ketones? -- What do you do if he/she has ketones in his/her urine? -- Emergency names and phone numbers. - Make a special bag that contains supplies, blood sugar monitor, snacks, foods to treat low blood sugar and medicines. Give this bag to the teacher or nurse and have her keep it in a special place. - Keep a logbook at school with the teacher or nurse. - Visit or call the teacher once a month to talk about any concerns.

How can I help my child take care of his/her diabetes by himself/herself? At some point, you will have to shift diabetes tasks over to your child. This will teach your child how to do his own diabetes self-care. Here are some tips to follow at each age:

  • Babies (0-18 Months) During this time, you will need to take care of all of your child's diabetes care.
  • Toddlers (18 months to 3 years) Involve your child at an early age. Read books to your child about going to the doctor for his diabetes. You will still need to take care of all your child's diabetes care.
  • Preschool (3-5 Years) Your child may start asking questions about diabetes. Allow your child to make some of his/her own choices. Allow your child to become involved in small ways (i.e. choosing foods for meals).
  • Early school years (5-12 Years) Start to let your child do things on his/her own. Begin by letting your child check his/her blood sugar while you are watching. Then let your child start giving his/her shots while you watch. You may need to remind your child about taking his/ her medicine or eating certain snacks.
  • Teens (13-17 Years) By now, your child should be able to give his/ her own insulin, test blood sugar, record his/ her results and choose proper foods. Give your teen the chance to manage his/her diabetes. This will help to teach your child that there can be problems if he/she does not take care of his/her diabetes.

What do I do when my child is sick at home? Here are a few suggestions:

  • Never skip insulin or diabetes pills.
  • Check your child's blood sugar every 2-4 hours.
  • Check for ketones in urine.
  • If your child does not want to eat, try small amounts of liquids.

What about sports? Exercise can cause low blood sugar levels. Playing sports or taking gym class will take some planning. Talk about your child's needs with his/ her doctor and diabetes teacher. Come up with a plan that works best for him/her.

Here are some tips about sports that you can follow:

  • Learn as much as you can about exercise and diabetes.
  • Your child needs to check his/her blood sugar before exercise.
  • Plan snacks, if needed.
  • If starting a new sport, check his/her blood sugar throughout the activity.
  • Have your child carry a snack.
  • Keep a glucagon kit handy.
  • Tell your child's coaches and teachers how to recognize and treat problems.
  • Have your child wear an I.D. that shows he/ she has diabetes.