My little three year old toddler is starting preschool for the first time this week and he was just diagnosed with peanut and tree nut allergies in the last couple of weeks. I am still in shock that I have a child with special health needs because I am the dietitian who helps OTHER families with food allergies or kids with diabetes, but I never thought I would be ‘that parent’ with a child who needs special care.
We have met with the staff and teachers and so far, they are very accommodating since they have had other students with food allergies in the past. They have a special nut-free snack list that all the parents (who rotate bringing snacks) have to use when choosing snacks for the classroom. I have to sign a form every week that says they can administer epinephrine and an inhaler in an emergency. And of course, I have to trust that they will be in tune with his symptoms to monitor him to see if he is acting abnormal in any way. In preparing for this special care that he will need at school, it got me thinking even more about parents with children who have type 1 diabetes. Kids with type 1 diabetes have even more special health needs in a school environment with checking blood sugar, administering insulin and glucagon. I am a nervous wreck and I can’t even imagine a parent of a child with type 1!
It’s very important as educators to make sure our parents have resources available to them to make sure their schools are prepared to care for a child with type 1 diabetes. The National Diabetes Education Program created a great guide book called “Helping the Student with Diabetes Succeed.” This guide has helpful forms like a Diabetes Medical Management Plan (DMMP) that you can fill out and have as a protocol for the school to use for treating and recognizing highs and lows.
Make sure parents are connected with other school age parents and help each other out with navigating school and trying to find a school that is open to accommodating the health needs of their child. It was so nice to know that the staff at our preschool had another child before us with a nut allergy so they had procedures in place. In our area, there are parent support groups led by our local American Diabetes Association chapter. As educators, I feel like we should show our parents and kids with type 1 just a little more love since it’s such a tough road. The good news is with the internet, there are so many more resources than even ten years ago to connect parents and offer support.