Childhood Diabetes-Know your rights

By- Martin Grandley

Your child has certain rights at school to protect him or her since diabetes has been classified as a disability. Both at home and at school, children who suffer from diabetes need special medical attention. Since this care is medically necessary for their health, they are allowed to follow routines that other children would not. This is the reason the disease must be labeled.

There are many different types of diabetes, each requiring different medications. Each child will have a specifically developed treatment for him or her. A program will be developed just for him or her by your child's diabetes team You, need to know the rights of diabetic children within the school system, as a parent of a diabetic child, and so this article is important for you. If your child is insulin dependent, or receives oral medications doesn't matter.

Your child's school will not initiate a program for your diabetic child. You cannot make that assumption or even assume they know how to have one. The diabetic child may actually be forbidden to do what s/he needs to do to stay healthy, since there are so many restrictions in schools about medications and drugs. Recently, there was a court case in when a school in Connecticut refused to let a student test her glucose level while she was in class. The family won the case since this was a medical necessity for the child.

Meeting with school administrators to discuss a plan for the child during the school day is the first thing parents should do. This plan should be developed as soon as the child is diagnosed, and it should be started as soon as treatment begins. Remember that since diabetes is a disability, your child has rights under the Americans with Disabilities Act. Just make sure that you have that plan in writing!

Here are the items to have in the written plan:

  • 1. The school must have staff members properly trained in testing of blood samples, and recognizing the symptoms of hypoglycemia (elevated blood sugar) and hyperglycemia (decreased blood sugar).This staff must be available to administer insulin or glucagon, as necessary;
  • 2. The child must be permitted to test his or her blood glucose levels routinely, either in the classroom or some other designated area, and be able to treat any effects of hypo- or hyperglycemia (by a snack or a medication);
  • 3. The child must be allowed to participate in sports, field trips and other extracurricular activities, and any necessary supervision or assistance must be provided;
  • 4. Your child must be permitted to eat a snack or lunch whenever s/he feels it is necessary, even if it is outside of the snack or lunch break time in the school program.Your child must also have adequate time to finish eating;
  • 5. Your child must be permitted to use the bathroom or go to a water fountain whenever necessary, or be permitted to bring a drinking container of water into the classroom. The school may require that the container be covered.
  • 6. Permitting, without harassment, time off for medical appointments or illnesses that may crop up as the result of the diabetic condition

    You're going to have to prepare yourself to fight for some of these rights, since schools will often take the approach that there are certain prescribed programs within the learning environment, and expect children and their families to work around those programs. If, for instance, your child needs to have a properly trained chaperon during a field trip, then the school must provide personnel who can meet the child's medical needs. It's not up to the parent to hire a private nurse or take time away from work to accompany the child. The school must either provide a nurse or see that at least one of the adult chaperons has been properly trained in the particulars of diabetes, as well as in emergency medical procedures.

    Martin Grandley runs the website and is a writer for Diabetes Firm which a site dedicated to diabetes issues and contains all the very latest news and views diabetes related. For more details please visit
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