School, Challenges + Questions about T1D
My name is Samuel and I am 10 years old. I have type 1 diabetes, but it is a small part of what makes me who I am. I am also smart, good at math, a drummer, a Cub Scout, funny, nice and I love the outdoors.
I was diagnosed with type 1 on Christmas Day when I was 5 years old. My school was on Winter Break, so I only had to miss a few days. When I had to go back to school, I thought I would be made fun of. Turns out, nobody made fun of me! In fact, the teachers got the classes together and read a book about diabetes. It was called “Taking Diabetes to School” by Kim Gosselin. This is a great book to take to school for younger kids. For older kids, get some information to share with the class, or have your teacher share. You can even print some information from Beyond Type 1. Give everyone a chance to ask questions (most people are curious about it!).
Some challenges about having type 1 at school are being low, gym class and high sugars. It’s good for you and your parents to talk to your teachers and nurse so that everyone has a good idea of how you can handle these things without missing out and interrupting class too much. Also, make sure your teachers know you’re allowed to participate in things like pizza parties, ice cream parties, etc.—just work with your nurse on dosing the right insulin for it!
Even though there are challenges of type 1 at school, there are also some perks! One upside is snacks! My friends are always jealous that I can eat a snack whenever I want. Another upside is getting to see your nurse every day! My nurse is very nice and she even got me a birthday present last year! Another perk outside of school is Diabetes Camp. Everybody there has diabetes. You get to shoot BB guns, go swimming, archery and more! It’s a good way to have a good time.
It is normal to feel self-conscious about taking insulin, checking blood sugar, or wearing a pump at school, but just remember, all the kids at school probably feel embarrassed about something. It might be their braces, an allergy, how tall they are, how short they are, anything! Everyone has things that they struggle with, and everyone has good and bad days. I think a great way to be Beyond Type 1 at school is to be the kind of friend who understands that everyone struggles, and to always be kind and available to help other people. Be a good example, and it might catch on!
Be prepared for kids to ask questions, and just answer their questions. Don’t take it personally if someone has a question, just answer them and be nice. But if their questions turn into being mean, make sure you tell your parent, nurse, or teacher. Questions are OK, but being rude or mean isn’t!
Here are some things you may get asked and some answers you could use:
Q: Why do you have diabetes? I heard you get diabetes if you eat bad food?
A: I have type 1 diabetes, and it is caused by your pancreas not making insulin. Nobody knows why it happens, but luckily I can still do anything I want, I just check my blood sugar and take medicine. And I get to eat snacks in class!!
Q: Why are you drinking juice before gym?
A: Sometimes when I run around I get low blood sugar so the juice keeps me feeling good so I can kick butt in gym!
Q: Is that a phone, can you play games on it? (about insulin pump)
A: I wish! It’s an insulin pump to give me medicine.
If you want other people to see you as Beyond Type 1, you have to start by seeing yourself as more than type 1—because you are! The best way to be Beyond Type 1 at school is to not let type 1 hold you back. My mom always tells me (over and over, the way moms do) that I can do anything that someone without type 1 can, it just might take a little more planning.
I can eat the same foods, I just have to know how those foods affect my blood sugar, and plan my insulin the right way. I can play the same sports, I just have to know how those sports affect my blood sugar, and make sure I have the right snacks, and drinks when I play. Tackle the things you love like recess, gym and football players!
Be Beyond Type 1 and be yourself!