Okay - so maybe I'm getting ahead of myself just a teensy bit.
School holidays are about to start, not end! Why am I writing a post about getting ready for school?
Well, that's an easy one. I have two kids with Type 1 Diabetes!
Just when we finally get comfortable with how the school has been managing our kids, the year ends and we have to start all over again!
Planning for the new school year starts at the end of the last one!
For families with younger children with T1D, many parents have arrangements with their child's school to let them know who their child's teacher for the next school year will be. Of course this is so that parents can ensure that their child's new teacher is prepared for having a T1D kid in their classroom.
Then of course you have the joys of kids going from primary school (grade/elementary school) to high school - a whole new kettle of fish!
The start of school is soooooo incredibly stressful for T1D families.
Another thing that makes it a little more difficult here in Australia is that there is NO standard Management Plan for kids with T1D!
It's entirely up to the parents to devise a Management Plan for their kids.
There are standard Asthma Plans and posters that get put up all over the schools.
There are standard Anaphylaxis Plans.
There are plans for kids with learning difficulties.
On every single excursion, camp, activity and field trip permission form there are entire sections dedicated to Asthma and Anaphylaxis - however, in the vast majority of cases Type 1 Diabetes does not even rate a mention.
There is NO standard Management Plan for Type 1 Diabetes.
Interesting, when neither Asthma nor Anaphylaxis require constant monitoring, 24 hours a day, every single day!
I'm not discounting these serious medical conditions at all, both of my kids had terrible Asthma up until 6 or 7 years of age, I know how scary it is. I also know families of kids with Anaphylaxis - and yes, that's very scary too. Things can turn ugly very quickly with both of these conditions. However, they BOTH need a trigger.
Type 1 Diabetes does not need a trigger. It's there, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year.
How many parents of kids with Asthma or Anaphylaxis get up every single night between 2am and 3am to check on their kids, whether they're unwell or not? Yes, it's scary and very dangerous when their kids are sick - and yes, life-threatening. But there's the difference. When they're well, when proper precautions are taken and there are no triggers, these conditions don't require constant attention and monitoring at least every 2 hours every single day.
No, I would never wish Asthma or Anaphylaxis on any child or parent. I am NOT saying that I'd rather my kids had those problems and not T1D. I'd rather my kids did not have ANY serious medical condition at all.
What I AM saying is that, in MY opinion (and this is JUST MY OPINION), I do not believe that the vast majority of schools here in Australia take Type 1 Diabetes seriously enough.
Okay, got a little sidetracked there, so better get down off my soapbox and get back to what this post is about - getting kids ready for the new school year!
My kids were both diagnosed when they were already at school - Issie was in grade 3 and Tim in grade 7. In a way - it's a little easier when your child is already at school. You're already used to leaving them in the (hopefully) capable hands of school teachers; they already have their own circle of friends; they already know their way around the school ground.
Still difficult to deal with - but easier than if your child was diagnosed as an infant and toddler, and have been in your care for a few years before you then have to, somehow, hand them over to teachers to take care of for 6 hours a day!
I know of many, many families in this situation - and the parents are, understandably, terrified!
A few months ago I was asked to help with the development of a Toolkit aimed at helping parents deal with their child returning to school after diagnosis. This Toolkit, the "In Real Life: Back-to-school Toolkit" developed by Eli Lilly Diabetes Australia, has finally been published and is being rolled out to Diabetes Clinics across the country.
Finally, parents will have a resource they can use to help them plan for their child starting, or returning to school.
However, still no actual "Management Plan".
A few days ago I created a new page here on this Blog dedicated to managing T1D at school.
You'll find the link to the page under the Blog Title at the top of this page. You can also access the page by clicking on the picture above - which also appears as a permanent link at the right of every page on this Blog.
The "Diabetes Management At School" page contains links to various documents, suggested management plans, flow charts, information for Australian schools and many other resources to help make the start of school a little less daunting.
I will continue to add more links to that page as I come across more and more resources that may be helpful to parents and teachers/school staff.
If you come across a resource or link that is not included on the Diabetes Management At School page, and you think it should be there - feel free to send me link by leaving a "Comment" under this post - or send me an email!