My daughter is a second grader and we did send a letter home with her classmates this year. You can read about my experience on my blog at boxofchocolatesblog.com
Another D Mom friend of mine, Heidi, gave me her letter as a model. This is her blog…
I am also happy to send you a copy of my letter if you send me your email address. Mine is firstname.lastname@example.org
For some reason it will not let me put the link in to the exact post on my blog. Email me and I’ll send you the letter.
My son is also a 1st grader with T1 diagnosed in July 2008. I haven’t written a letter before. I’ve thought about it. Will’s teacher’s husband and daughter are also both T1. ( this is why we wanted her). She talked with the class a little bit about Will’s diabetes. I spend a lot of time at the school mainly at lunch and a lot of the kids have asked questions. Maybe set aside a time to talk with the class maybe if they have show and tell. Will is on the pump (omnipod) he took one of his old pods to school so they could see the “needle” (actually just the catheter is showing). We did the omnipod because Will was freaked out by the size of the needles when we watched a friend get his pump changed. With the omnipod he never sees the needle. It still took an adjustment period, and he still as some anxiety with certain sites. ( we started pumping in March). Will’s teacher helps him test in the class, but last year Will went to the nurse and a different kid went with him each day and watched him get tested. They all looked out for him. I don’t know if your daughter would feel more set apart if you came to the school, but it would be a way for the kids to ask questions and you know they got the right info.
This is a great book to give a basic understanding. We gave it out to my son’s Grade 2 class when he was diagnosed in January of this year. Perhaps you could print out a few copies and the kids could take turns taking it home.
here is the letter we sent home to parents of kids in my son’s grade 2 class. I got it from a website, maybe children with diabetes, can’t exactly remember. Hope it helps!
Dear Second Grade Parent,
Our son Jacob has Type 1 Diabetes. We have explained this condition to your child, Jacob’s classmate, so that he/she may have a better understanding of what they may occasionally witness. The basic emphasis is on the fact that Jacob is a regular little boy, whose body needs help in using food for energy.
What Is Type 1 Diabetes – A Short Summary
Type 1 Diabetes is a disease in which a person’s own immune system destroys the islet cells in the pancreas. Islet cells produce insulin. Insulin allows food and drink to enter our body’s cells as glucose, giving us the energy necessary for survival. A person with Type 1 Diabetes can no longer produce insulin. Insulin must be given by multiple injections or an insulin pump, daily, in order to survive. Blood sugar levels can vary widely from low to high, and must be monitored closely by testing a drop of blood, many times throughout the day.
Low blood sugar levels are an immediate concern. Exercise, lack of food, or too much insulin will cause blood sugar levels to drop. If left untreated, this can lead to seizures, coma, or death. Food and drink with carbohydrates will cause blood sugar levels to rise. Prolonged high blood sugar levels must be avoided in order to reduce the risk of complications such as kidney failure and heart disease.
The Truth About Type 1 Diabetes
A person cannot get Type 1 Diabetes by eating too much sugar.
Type1 Diabetes is NOT contagious under any circumstances.
People with Type 1 Diabetes can eat sweets as part of a nutritional meal plan.
A child with Type 1 Diabetes will not outgrow the condition.
We are grateful to have been able to share information that will make Jacob and the other students feel more comfortable at school. It has been our experience to note that children/Jacob’s friends are as matter of fact and accepting of his condition as Jacob is. After all, when it is not a mystery, it is not scary. We do ask that you do not refer to Jacob as “diabetic”, but instead say that Jacob has diabetes. He is not his disease.
What Your Child Learned
We can’t catch diabetes. Jacob didn’t get diabetes from eating too much sugar.
We all have insulin in our bodies. It helps the food we eat give us energy.
People with diabetes don’t have any insulin in their bodies.
Jacob gets two-three shots of insulin every day. They only hurt a little bit.
Sometimes Jacob or the teacher or assistant puts a tiny drop of blood from Jacob’s finger into a meter. This meter tells if Jacob’s blood sugar level is low, high, or in range. This is called a blood sugar check. Jacob does this at least ten times each day.
Sometimes, especially after exercising, Jacob’s blood sugar level may be too low. Jacob may need to have an extra snack or juice to help him have more energy.
Jacob can eat any kind of food, but we must keep track of what it is and how much he is eating, to make sure that he has enough insulin too.
Occasionally, Jacob may need to drink lots of water. He drinks lots of water when his blood sugar level is too high.
Jacob wears a special bracelet that tells people he has diabetes.
Kids with diabetes like to have fun!
Thank you for your understanding. We would be more than happy to answer any questions you might have in regards to this subject. Please feel free to send us email or call us on the phone.
Wow Maureen! Is that ever awesome! When I was diagnosed back in Grade 1 in the 60’s - there wasn’t many youngsters around like us with D (we were 1% of the population). Only the teacher and staff knew I was diabetic - and close friends of mine knew. We had a full time nurse in those days in grade school - which is a rarity in schools here where I live in Montreal and have heard the same in other provinces due to budget cuts. It’s funny, I met up with a few of my friends at a high school reunion years ago - and they remember that they thought it was unfair that I could eat snacks in the classroom (they couldn’t). Hmm, trade you my snack for your pancreas \^^//
I can’t take all the credit as I found most of it on a website, but Jacob and my husband did a presentation to his classmates before I sent the letter out, pretty much saying the same thing and showing them how he tests, where he tests, etc. It went over really well, the kids are super helpful. Always wondering if Jacob is high or low and watching out for him.
My daughter was diagnosed when she was in first grade. We sent a very short, simple letter home after she returned to class after being in the hospital pre-DX. We also did a presentation to her class room-- it was a team effort with the school nurse, me, and Abbie. Abbie took the lead. We pulled a couple of documents from the ADA site. And probably best was a ‘show and tell’ of Abbie’s glucose meter, syringes (showing them how TINY the needle was) etc. Abbie’s in 3rd grade now and on a pump. But that group of kids who were in her first grade class are still her best advocates.
Thanks so much!!! My email is JC2713@aol.com
I truly appreciate all your help! I am going to check out your blog tonite when the kiddies are all asleep!
Wow, I wish I would have know this. My son was in 4th grade and didn’t want anyone to know. I supported him with his wishes, but if he would have seen the letter, he might have changed his mind. We did talk to all of his teachers and I think the kids eventually caught on, but he still does not like people to know. I get in trouble everytime he hears me talk about it. Now he is in middle school and I had to contact 8 teachers! I was lucky, his home room teacher has a D daughter.
Her Mom went in and spoke to the class the first year (she was diagnosed in second grade). She wanted to give the speech herself in third grade and she did. Never sent a letter to the parents but I think it is a very good idea.
My daughter is in 4th grade. She was diagnosed the summer before starting 3rd grade. I did a presentation to her class using simple diagrams I had drawn with pictures. I also read them a book about diabetes from JDRF and showed them a short video made by JDRF, “You Cant Catch Diabetes From A Friend”. Her classmates were very receptive. I would like to do this every year, but she is very resistive to it. She goes to a small school, and most of her classmates know she has diabetes. She doesn’t like to tell people what her pump is and just wants to be like everyone else. We do have a school nurse that helps with carb counting, but her teachers take on a lot of the responsibility for her. She is able to recognize lows and knows how to treat them and if something goes wrong with her infusion set, the school is instructed to call me. She can bolus independently using the bolus wizard, just needs help with carb counting.
Great letter. I like that you added in that he is able to eat any kind of food. People are constantly asking us “what can she eat”. It is a continual path of educating those around us. I explain it as we have to be her pancreas for her because hers does not work to make insulin like it should. She can eat what you eat, she just has to cover for it with insulin.
Thanks so much Sarah! I just ordered that book on line! Thanks!!!
Wow! Your son sounds like he has a terrific teacher who certainty can make the school transition a bit easier! Thanks for your help!!! All the best to your son too!
Thanks so much Nicole! I love this book and idea!!! Def. going to take your advice!!!
Thank you Maureen! Very helpful!!! Hope your Jacob is doing well!!!
Wow! Thanks for sharing!! Good advice! Hope Abbie is doing great on the pump! Thanks!!!
Thanks Becky! That sounds like a great idea about the video. Thanks for sharing!!! Hope she is off to a good strt this school year!!