Schooling the Teachers

Dealing with diabetes at school requires attention to details.

Karen Hargrave discusses diabetes at schoolBy Karen Hargrave-Nykaza

Trying to make changes in the way your child's diabetes at school is handled can be very challenging. We have learned firsthand that if you want to make changes, you have to know going in that it may not happen at all and if it does, it may not happen while your child is still in that school. Both of those scenarios can be frustrating, for obvious reasons. Most of us will admit that we are working for change so that our own child will experience the benefits of that change, but that won't always be the end result.

In our case, we tried from the second year my son had diabetes, his 3rd grade year, to advocate that at least one person besides the nurse in his building needed to learn how to use glucagon in case of an emergency. Given that Joel had only had diabetes for a year at this point, we were still fairly nave about everyone working together towards a common goal, that goal being what made the most sense for his care at school. In schools today, it seems it is not always about what makes sense, but instead is all about liability.

To me, that should be an argument FOR having an additional person in each school knowing how to use glucagons or another safety measure, not against it. But just try convincing most school administrators of that. They will be more than happy to point out to you all the reasons that it is not in their best interest to open themselves up to the risks of having a non-medical person perform a medical procedure.

I bring up the glucagon issue specifically because it seems that we are finally going to see the glucagon training happen in our school district by the end of this school year. This is a full 4 years since we first started our crusade for glucagon training. It will be happening in six out of eight schools - no doubt my son's former elementary school is one of the hold outs, but that is a whole other story. This is a perfect example because for me, it was one of those issues that was really worth fighting for and it will carry over to impact other children dealing with diabetes at school in a positive way. It was worth going to the mat for this issue and is very rewarding to see it finally happening.

It is frustrating to realize how many people will give up the fight for this or similar issues when they realize the changes won't happen in time to impact their child's diabetes at school. In a time when we have less and less time to pursue things, a lot of people will give up on pursuits that they don't see having an impact on their own child. It would be great if we could all look at the big picture and the long term good that can be done by making these changes, but it is overly optimistic to expect that that will always happen. It is my hope that all parents will persevere for the good of all kids, even if their child won't be directly affected. If we each pay it forward with this in mind, maybe someone whose child is ahead of our child as far as their grade level will do the same. Eventually all of our children will benefit and we will each inadvertently be the recipients of the benefits our collective hard work.

And the more I compare with friends and other parents, the more it becomes apparent that many schools do the minimum that is required of them and sometimes not even that when it comes to accommodations that need to be made for any child that isn't completely "typical". Many parents expect the school to advocate on their child's behalf and oftentimes this doesn't happen. Schools will also not necessarily go out of their way to let you know about certain resources that are available whether it is something in the community or something as simple as connecting you with another parent with similar needs and experience that may help you and your child navigate through the system more easily. Sometimes, schools will not do anything but the bare minimum or what is being asked or demanded of them. This means that we have to collectively ask if we want anything to change. And if we don't, we have no one to blame but ourselves when nothing changes.

Read more of Karen Hargrave's columns here.

dLife's Daily Living columnists are not all medical experts, but everyday people living with diabetes and sharing their personal experiences. While their method of diabetes management may work for them, everyone is different. Please consult with your diabetes care team to find out what will work best for you.


Last Modified Date: August 22, 2013

All content on is created and reviewed in compliance with our editorial policy.

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