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Type 1 diabetes or juvenile diabetes affects 11 out of every 1 lakh children in India. Unlike adults, children need to be monitored in every aspect of their daily routine, right from a tender age. Aspects including meals, medication and physical activity that play a crucial role in determining sugar levels need to be carefully regulated in children. Being at a school-going age, such great responsibilities can take a toll on the young patient with long-term effects on their socio-psychological development.
The bulk of time in a child s day will be spent at the school. While at home, parents and relatives can be constantly around the child and monitor his health closely, but in school it s not possible to do so. Therefore, children with type 1 diabetes must have the correct support at school. Dr Pradeep Gadge, consultant Diabetologist, Seven Hills Hospital, Mumbai, strongly advices teachers to be self-educated about the disease and caregiving in type 1 diabetes. He offers some recommendations for taking care of such children, especially in schools.
Looking after a diabetic child at school
Education is the key: Teachers should educate themselves about all the associated medical requirements/care measures for type 1 diabetes. As an adult in the child s immediate vicinity, you may have to help him or her by administering insulin shots and regulating meals. Type-1 patients need to eat regularly ideally, 3 well-balanced meals per day (preferably homemade) with snacks like fruit slices in between. In addition, make it a point to give the child plenty of fluids. Keep basic glucose monitoring equipment, insulin medication and snacks easily accessible in the classroom. Be sensitive while looking out for the child, ensuring sufficient wash room breaks, periodic food and water consumption and physical activity through the day.
School authorities should be vigilant: Aside from teachers, the school authorities and fellow students should also be informed. Have an ID card on the child, which mentions his or her medical condition. Following a strict routine is difficult for a young child, especially when he/she sees other children of the same age enjoying their freedom. It may lead to feelings of social isolation and alienation for a young patient. To avoid this involve the child s classmates. All this could help mitigate any unfortunate circumstances. At all times, sensitivity is extremely important.
Necessary precautions before making the child perform physical activity: Physical activity is important for maintaining blood sugar levels, even in children, as long as two things are not ignored. Firstly, checking sugar levels while exercising and secondly, eating a snack before any exercise. In case of a field trip where students go off the school premises, the accompanying teacher should carry insulin, snacks, sugar, fluids and a glucometer. The insulin carried in syringe or pen form should be stored with ice packs the parents should help arrange this.
Work together: Young Type-1 patients are faced with an extremely challenging situation. Parents, teachers and school staff should work together to ensure that this burden is lessened. A child s time at school should be filled with pleasant memories and the child should focus on good learning experiences. School authorities can only assist, based on information shared by the parents about the child s condition. Further, parents should speak openly to their children about their fears, respond to their questions and encourage them to seek help if ever needed.
A combination of patience and sensitivity in the school environment can go a long way in alleviating the difficulties of type-1 diabetes kids.
Image source: Getty images (for representational purpose only)
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