Helping my Type 1 child feel ‘normal’ in SchoolElissa Renouf
My daughter has just been diagnosed with Type 1. While I want to make sure that her condition is being managed during school time, I don’t want her feeling different from the other kids. Help!
It’s really hard to send your kids out into a world where you know they’re going to be relying on strangers to help them manage their condition. That’s something I experienced myself – especially in the first year after each child’s diagnosis. It’s daunting enough to figure out what you should be doing, let alone trying to educate someone else!
For your own peace of mind, it’s important to have an open line of communication with your daughter’s teachers. Have the confidence to speak up and tell them how you’d like her condition to be managed. Here’s a good example: my 15-year-old son, Charlie, recently went to footy camp. Before he left, I made sure I spoke to one of the adults in charge on the trip. I gave them instructions about what to do if he had a hypo, and included a management plan with all the important information and emergency numbers. Being prepared in this way is the key to feeling more relaxed as a parent.
As for wanting your daughter to feel like she’s not any different from the other kids in her class, that’s a bit trickier. It’s a sad fact that there is so much stigma attached to kids with Type 1. I often hear things like, ‘Type 1 is that really bad kind of diabetes’, and that ‘taking insulin is a sign that kids aren’t managing their condition well’. As there is a lot of ignorance out there, I feel the responsibility lies with parents to educate others and to make their child feel as normal as possible.
My 13-year-old son, Freddie, was sometimes teased at school for having an insulin pump. The other kids would tug at the tubing and make fun of it. It’s my job as his parent to empower Fred to be aware of his condition, and to give him to confidence to feel comfortable enough to explain diabetes and his insulin pump to the people around him.
If we educate ourselves, we’re able to better teach our kids and hopefully, over time, educate the community and change attitudes for good.