ensure your child is safe and supported at school is to help the people around them understand Type 1 diabetes.

Whether kicking off a new school year or returning to school after a new diagnosis, one of the best ways to ensure your child is safe and supported at school is to help the people around them understand Type 1 diabetes. Here are 10 talking points to share with teachers, babysitters and friends: 

Let’s Clear a Few Things Up…

1. Type 1 Diabetes and Type 2 Diabetes are very different. Type 1 Diabetes is an autoimmune disease that shuts the pancreas down entirely. It has nothing to do with anything the person with the disease did or did not do.  Type 2 Diabetes is a condition that causes the pancreas to function unreliably, but the body still produces insulin.

2. Type 1 Diabetes cannot be managed with diet and exercise.  People with Type 1 Diabetes depend on insulin for survival. No exceptions.

3. There is no cure for Type 1 Diabetes. Children do not outgrow Type 1 Diabetes. There are no breaks or remissions. It is 24/7/365.  That’s why researchers at BRI are working hard on new treatments for Type 1 Diabetes, including ways to prevent - and maybe someday - cure it.

There is Good News…

4. People with Type 1 Diabetes can still eat anything, they just need the right amount of insulin to convert the sugars in the bloodstream into energy.  Type 1 Diabetes Hits Home

5. People with Type 1 Diabetes can do anything. Type 1 Diabetics are playing professional soccer, football, baseball, and basketball. Jordan Morris, Adam Morrison, and Brendan Morrow are just  some of the athletes with northwest connections.  

6. Technology is changing the way we manage Type 1 Diabetes. Not necessarily easier, but better outcomes.  It is possible to track a child’s blood sugar with a cell phone and to give an insulin injection without a shot (from nearby).

A Few Tips…

7. Caring for a child with Type 1 Diabetes does not require medical training, especially for a few hours.  If you are close to a family with a T1 child, consider offering to learn to watch her.

8. Don’t Be Afraid to Ask Questions. Wondering why that kid in the park is getting his finger poked or what that device is on his arm? Totally cool to ask. Just don’t tell us about your great aunt who lost her arm to diabetes. That’s upsetting.

9. For the sake of comedy, help us stop the dumb diabetes jokes.  Having a sense of humor helps a lot of people cope with Type 1 Diabetes. But no disease should ever be a punchline. Funny: When a parent asks her child to give her the finger.  Not funny: Referring to a sugary drink as diabetes in a cup.

Reading this could save a life...

10. Type 1 Diabetes symptoms can be mistaken for other issues. If your child has persistent flu-like symptoms, insist on a blood sugar check, or pick up a testing kit at the drugstore.



About the Author

Thatcher Heldring is a freelance writer and author focused on Type 1 Diabetes, environmental education, and other issues related to children and health. He has partnered with clients working on literacy, sustainable communities, youth leadership development, and health policy. Thatcher is also the author of four sports novels for young readers and the father of two sons who give him plenty to write about. You can reach Thatcher through his website at www.spitballinc.com.

Living With A Disease

September 5, 2017

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