This week I finally got a chance to sit down with my son's teachers, the principal and the lady in charge of special education to talk about diabetes as it pertains to my child. I appreciated the opportunity and once again was a little nervous going in. I reminded myself that I talk to people about this very subject--how to speak with your school about your child's diabetes. Why was I so worried about my prep? Why was I concerned about how I would be received? Because I am human. Because I am a mom. Because I have been educating people for over ten and a half years and still am lucky if I get through to a quarter of them.
I worried, who would show up. Would I hold their attention? Would they be willing to learn? There was a teacher who had a diabetes connection in her family, would she know everything? Would she know anything? Yep, basically I was terribly paranoid.
The school has been wonderful to date. Its another small school and my son seems to have quickly become comfortable there. He is still a quiet child but he is involved in their lunchtime sports and comes home talking about various students in his class and things that they have done. That is definitely a huge weight off of my shoulders. That also made me anxious about going in and making more demands.
It was vital however that they understand how the brain functions (or doesn't function) when high or low. I had to make them understand that he was private and often would not tell people when he was out of whack. I did not want to come across as a demanding parent but these were important concerns. These were things that would impact his academic career.
Things went well. Everyone was very open and willing to learn. One teacher did know about this and that...and she truly did. She even asked if he carried Glucagon. The other teachers asked questions and the principal began to work out a plan on how best to deal with the issues at hand. Teachers were fine with readings being written on exams or writing them when in range if need be. YES! One victory. The next issue was how to make the other children aware of his diabetes. We all agreed that other students are our best protection. They see more, they are with him more, they can help a lot more than most adults in many situations. The next question was how would we handle this? How do we get my son to talk about his disease? According to him, no one in his class knows he has diabetes. This had to change.
The conversation led to another person at the table stating that she wished her daughter would open up more about the learning issues that she faced. As I sat at the table I realized that in that small class, many students were facing some sort of a challenge. It may have been physical as in my son's case or it may be something that challenged how they learn. Everyone has something. Everyone carries some burden. Everyone faces challenges. That became the angle that one teacher decided to take. It was decided that diabetes would be a health topic but discussing your own issue and the battle you face would be a project that all students would do in another class as well.
This should be interesting. My son does not talk about his disease. He probably figures that Mom talks enough for the entire family and then some. At breakfast we discussed how important it was that he talk. He needs to have people around who know that he has diabetes and who can help him in an emergency. In his old school, his friends had grown up with diabetes. In our new area education is just beginning. I hope he opens up a bit at least with a few students. Time will tell I guess.