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Useful Ways Teachers Can Assist Students With Diabetes

Diabetes is one of the most prevalent childhood chronic illnesses in the USA. Every year, approximately 13,000 new cases are diagnosed in children under the age of 18, according to the CDC. Despite the condition being fairly commonplace, many educators are not entirely sure how to assist students with diabetes. This may result in unnecessary stress for both the teacher and the student. Thankfully, you do not have to have a medical degree in order to accommodate students with diabetes. In fact, by following a few basic guidelines, an educator will be able to be of great assistance to a student living with a diabetes diagnosis.

Educate yourself

In order to best assist students with diabetes, it is of vital importance that an educator carries as much knowledge as possible about the condition. Apart from knowing what diabetes is and how it develops, it is also essential to understand what impact it can have on the student’s everyday life. Some students may also be living with diabetic neuropathy, which can cause considerable pain. Neuropathy can manifest itself in many ways, including numbness and pain in the legs and feet, and damage to the digestive system, heart, blood vessels, and urinary tract. As a teacher, it is also important to know what activities (such as illness, stress and exercise) can affect blood glucose levels, and what symptoms to look out for when it does set in. There are countless reputable sources of information available that can arm you with the knowledge needed to assist students with diabetes better.

Allow the student to manage their diabetes

Most children of school-going age will have been trained by their medical team and their parents on how to manage their diabetes while at school. In order to do this, however, they may require their teachers to make a few concessions. This includes allowing them to keep a water bottle at their desk, granting permission to snack throughout the day in order to prevent hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) from setting in, and allowing frequent bathroom breaks. Additionally, a student with diabetes may require access to a range of diabetes management tools, including equipment such as an insulin pump, glucose monitor, or even a smartphone to monitor various aspects of their condition.

Be prepared for the unexpected

Students with diabetes should always have an emergency snack on hand in the event that they have to increase their sugar levels fast. Although students with diabetes will, more often than not, carry their own snacks with them, you can prepare for an emergency by keeping a selection of non-perishable snacks in the classroom. Some quality snacks to consider include beef jerky, peanut butter, nuts, roasted chickpeas, trail mix, and dark chocolate. You can also invest in a high-quality glucose-based drink that can stabilize blood glucose levels swiftly. This will come in particularly handy when the normal school day is interrupted because of a field trip, pep rally, fire drill, or school assembly.

There are many students in the USA living with diabetes. Educators can form part of a superb support system if they educate themselves as much as possible about the illness.

Written by Jennifer McLee

Education World Contributor

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