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Type 1 Diabetes: Your Child's Role in Care

Topic Overview

Children with diabetes should participate in their treatment to the extent that is fitting for their age and experience with the disease.

  • Toddlers and preschool-aged children usually aren't able to do tasks for diabetes care such as giving insulin or checking blood sugar. As children get older, they typically cooperate with these tasks.
    • When your child with diabetes begins school (or attends a child care center), you and the staff will work together to build a care plan with instructions for handling your child's special needs.
    • Children can take part in all school activities while still getting the supervision and care that they need.
  • Children in elementary school can cooperate in all tasks required for their care. With maturity and experience, many children—with supervision—can test their blood sugar level.
  • Children in middle school or junior high school should be able to test their own blood sugar level. But they may need help during low blood sugar episodes. Some children can give insulin shots as long as this happens with supervision.
  • Teens should be able to handle their care with appropriate supervision. Teens may choose to use an insulin pump instead of shots. If they choose to use a pump, they still need supervision from adults.
    • Lifelong habits for self-care begin in the teen years. You can work with your child to set goals he or she can reach, such as checking blood sugar more often or eating more healthy foods.
    • Some families work with a counselor, such as a certified diabetes educator (CDE), to make this learning process easier.

Credits

By Healthwise Staff
Primary Medical Reviewer John Pope, MD - Pediatrics
Specialist Medical Reviewer Stephen LaFranchi, MD - Pediatrics, Pediatric Endocrinology
Last Revised December 4, 2012

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