Type 1 diabetes usually has a very rapid onset. It was previously called Juvenile Diabetes because most people develop it as children or teenagers. This type of diabetes occurs when the cells in the pancreas that make insulin are mistakenly damaged by the body’s own immune defense system. The underlying cause for this damage has not been identified yet, although research is currently underway. To date, insulin injection is necessary for survival. The only treatment is to control food intake, activity levels and insulin. Approximately 5-10% of all people with diabetes have type 1 diabetes. This translates to approximately 1 student per 400.
There is no single way to treat type 1 diabetes. Each child’s life events vary and as such, experienced diabetes teams are necessary to set up individualized treatment plans. For treatment plans to be most successful, an insulin regimen will be tailored to the needs of the child, as will a meal plan and recommendations for physical activity. New information on diabetes management allows people with diabetes to be more liberal with food planning.
Children with diabetes must be allowed to participate fully in all school activities. They need the cooperation and support of school staff members to help them with their treatment plan.
Blood sugar monitoring is essential to help assess how well the treatment plan is working. Most children can perform blood sugar checks by themselves but may need a private place to do so. Some children may need supervision to see that the procedure is done properly and results are recorded accurately. It is helpful for the child to have a meter at school so the blood can be checked when needed. How often the child checks or whether he/she checks at school at all are decisions made in conjunction with the child, family, child’s diabetes team and school personnel.
It is the board of education’s responsiblity to ensure that staff, including nursing staff has adequate training and updated skills in order to assist children with diabetes. The school nurse is responsible to recognize when additional training is needed to perform a particular procedure and to help determine where the appropriate training can be obtained.