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5 additions to your back-to-school-with-diabetes supply list

You've got the ICP (Individual Care Plan) written and the DCT (Diabetes Care Team) on board.* You've stashed emergency kits with testing supplies, snacks, fast-acting sugar for treating lows, batteries, phone numbers and more in strategic locations.1 You've met with everyone from the principal to the bus driver. So what else can you keep on hand for the challenges of the new year?

  1. Books for friends. Younger kids may want to share diabetes-themed picture books or printed coloring sheets with friends, so classmates can understand why your child eats extra snacks, checks blood sugar or leaves the room throughout the day. Ask the teacher if you can distribute materials to the whole classroom.
  2. A plan to wear blue on Fridays. Whether it's just once or every Friday, introduce the Blue Fridays idea at school and let everyone be a part of diabetes awareness. Private school? Maybe a blue wristband can do the trick. This is the kind of positive event that helps people rally around a cause. It's taken off in the U.S. and is making its way across Canada. Find out more about the movement on the Blue Fridays community Facebook page.
  3. Less-expected items. Of course you'll need testing supplies. But what about a digital watch set with testing reminders? Maybe a special stuffed animal to hold for fingertip checks. Stickers and love notes are a great addition to carbohydrate count lists in the lunchbox. Anything that makes life better for your child makes life better.
  4. Honey. Not literal honey for lows, but your sweet disposition. Remember the adage about "catching more flies with honey than vinegar?" Think about how long it took for you to learn the ins and outs of diabetes, and try to help bring school personnel along with a generous dose of patience.
  5. Confidence. Chances are, your child can take on more than you realize. They may need help, but even children as young as 4 or 5 can start to recognize the signs of low blood sugar, and by age 8 they can probably check their own blood sugar with supervision.2 Sending them off to school may be incredibly stressful, but the older they get, the more you need to let them fly.

Keep in mind that many people have never seen an insulin pump or watched a child check their blood sugar, including teachers who work with hundreds of children year after year. So take a deep breath help them learn to help your child.

*Individual Care Plan and Diabetes Care Team: If you haven't nailed these down, Diabetes Canada and Diabetes at School can give you great direction.

1Canadian Paediatric Society. Preventing and preparing for emergencies. Available at: https://www.diabetesatschool.ca/parents/emergencies. Accessed May 18, 2018.
2Canadian Paediatric Society. Managing type 1 diabetes: What can children do? Available at: https://www.diabetesatschool.ca/parents/managing. Accessed May 18, 2018.
 

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