Kids diabetes support groups in schools?

Hello! I am a teacher in an elementary school. Do any of your children attend a support group for diabetes (either on school time or otherwise)? As a Type 1 myself, I would like to offer some guidance to 2 diabetic students in my building. However, I want to know what parents would think of this idea first.


Interesting question... BRAVO.

Been diabetic long, long before there were such things as technology, meters, groups. Unlikely there will be sufficient numbers to make that kind of a group fly popularly, I would think... however that does not stop you from offering.

Where would YOU start, what would be the conversation(s) which would not cover the medical pieces specifically? The vulnerability necessary might be awkward, or uncomfortable for you perhaps.

Glad to help bump the topic until others with more experience chime in...

My daughter is currently the only child with T1D in her middle school of approximately 600 students. There is no support group. I wish there was someone like you (an adult who has lived with Type 1) who is available and willing to offer guidance for my daughter.

At the district I last worked in we had about 7 students in grades 9-12 who were type 1. I spoke with them once and of the 8 type 1's in the room I was the only one in the room without a pump. At the time I had been diabetic for 28 years.

I left the after school meeting and called my endo. I told him I wanted a pump because I could not be so far out of touch. Two weeks later I had a pump. I am so happy for that meeting. Now 12 years later I am so glad I ran into those kids.

rgcainmd, thank you for saying that...I guess I'll take my idea to my principal! I do hope a support group (even if not in school) is available to your daughter. As a kid I didn't want to draw attention to what made me different. I refused to go to support groups available in my area. If your daughter is interested in finding people like her, I bet that can be done here and more locally! In fact, I just found some books online that I'm going to order for my students, I can send you the titles if you'd like?

Blogabetic, That's a great story of inspiration! I'm glad kids changed your life for the better! No doubt my recently diagnosed 5th graders will show me a thing or two, even though I have been diabetic for the last 22 years!

Thank you, Stuart, You definitely did get the topic going!

There are several kids with T1D at my son's elementary school, but no one has yet suggested a support group. That's an interesting idea.

On a related subject, this is the first year I am likely to give a presentation about diabetes to my son's class. What, if anything, should I say/not say? My son has had diabetes since he was a year old and I don't think it has ever occurred to him to be embarrassed about it. I don't want to put that thought in his head. I suppose it does help that he knows both an adult [one of the instructors at my other son's martial arts dojo, who is "wicked cool" because he's a black belt and a veteran and... just cool] who wears a pump, and two other kids near him in age who have diabetes, one with a pump and one who uses shots.

I'd like to connect with the "cool pump fellow", if you could ask them when you get a chance please?! Please feel free to PM me, if they would like and are able to chat.

How long do you have for the presentation, real world? How old are the children exactly? Depending on the age group, you could literally avoid mentioning him in any way specifically. Its a disease. It is life long. Very targeted, basic information... or you could go any number of un-charted directions, determined by your creativity in particular.

Anybody know what genes are? Anybody know the word chronic, or know what that word means? All kinds of directions you could go... diabetes is an invisible disease. Anybody ever seen something invisible before?

If I had been offered a support group at school as a child it probably would have helped me a lot. The emotional and psychological trauma of being diabetic is just as damaging as the disease itself can be.

So your son he knows no different! That's wonderful that he has never felt embarrassed or overly concerned about diabetes.
If you choose to speak about it, keep it simple and informative. Maybe he can show his class what he does (is he pumping?) when he terms of checking his blood sugar and giving himself insulin?
You could just say...most of you (students) can eat what you want when you want. However, your son just has to put a little more time and thought into that. He is just like everyone else, except he has a condition, called diabetes, in which he has to be more aware of what he eats. Instead of just eating, he has to check his blood sugar, count up how many carbs are in his food and give himself insulin. Most people don't have to think about this b/c their bodies just do it. You could probably find a good video on youtube to explain diabetes as well. Of course, I'd leave time for questions, as kids will probably want to know more about it.
Hope this helps! Good luck!

There are only 3 students at my sons elementary school that have diabetes. My son is in 3rd. grade and the other students are in 1st. grade and 5th. grade so I don't know how a support group would work at our school. However I think it would be a great idea of the kids were interested. My son tends to not want to be singled out as a diabetic. I tried to fix him up on a play date with a kid his age that also has diabetes and he really wasn't interested. He said he likes being friends with people who don't have diabetes because it makes him feel normal. I like the idea though I think you should do it.

My friend and I started a support group for our community and have had a relatively good response. It is still very new. The kids are all different ages the youngest is 3 and the oldest is in middle school. We meet once a month for a parents dinner out. The last time we met, one of the kiddos came and we were able to ask him a lot of questions - a great insight as he is older than most of our kids. We used our local JDRF to help us advertise and get the word out. Having connections in the type one community are vital as we feel so alone, so often. And, its just nice to talk with other people who understand diabetes.

What will you do to earn their trust Kristen?

As a diabetic yourself you have MY trust. However, as a grown woman, a teacher too, perhaps that will require some extra "revelation" on your part possibly???

The biggest problem for ANY of us, in my experience are the PSYCHOLOGY pieces. Guarantee that is a real aspect you might want to literally be a teacher for them...

How can you make a lesson? Will you lead a discussion(s) about the things which worry them? Which frighten you? Ever read/accessed Dr. Polansky's "Diabetes Burnout" book? How about gotten/made a copy of the Behavioral Diabetes Institues Teen Ager cards?

Either one will certainly give you imagery (eg Sugar Fairy, Sugar Police, etc.) with which to begin a discussion-conversation with your younger diabetic peers might provide fruit.

Suspect you will also need to raise "Ground Rules" which may well be a challenge if they get brought into scrutiny by admin.???

Consider the what we say in here stays in here idea. What if a child says they don't really test, or perhaps fake tests or lie about tests... something which is NOT healthy, or could in theory become dangerous to their health. Where do you stand on such issues which are certainly not easy???

For honest discussion what will you offer?


I was diagnosed when I was a freshman in high school and I adamantly refused to go to any kind of support group. I think it's really important to make sure kids know that they aren't defined by their disease, they can take care of themselves (within reason) and don't have to depend on other people for the rest of their lives, etc. I went to a pre-college info session and some of the kids said they literally couldn't function without their parents. I understand that they're much younger than I was, but I really don't think this disease requires guidance. Perhaps only small lessons in working towards independence. We are ordinary people, with a health condition that doesn't stop you unless you let it. Maybe I'm tougher than most.

Children who are diagnosed when they are in middle or elementary school most definitely require guidance. They need an adult to help care for them, keep them safe, and shoulder an appropriate amount of the burden of management to avoid diabetes burnout.