Elementary School

Our 10 year old has been a type 1 diabetic since he was a little over a year old. We’ve had minimal issues with him over the years other than the occasional rough time handling his sugar when he’s gotten sick with a cold or fever. The last 2 -3 years have been a little rough at his elementary school and it’s been feeling like their ill equipped to handle a student with diabetes. We’ve been told on several occasions that despite his “condition” he needs to learn to control his behavior. His grades are great but there have been incidents of bullying, i.e. being told by another student that people with diabetes die. They have a see something, say something system in place so there have been times where they’ll say our son did something or said something inappropriate but once investigated they find it’s not true. When he gets blamed for things he gets agitated but when he actually did something bad he’ll say “well, if no one saw it or I don’t remember that, so it didn’t happen”, then we know he did but it’s been usually when his sugar level is low or high.

It’s as if they just don’t want to deal with it. Things really haven’t escalated but it’s tiring to get phone calls or messages from the teachers, usually the same one of the two, to complain about something. We’ve been told to see a therapist and told that even because of the diabetes there is no excuse for acting out at all. I’ve had to explain to many teachers and faculty that when the sugar is low or high it may cause him to act different in which case the school nurse has to get involved and check him. Has anyone else had similar situations? How have you remedied the situation(s)? Are there any schools more patient or trained to handle kids with diabetes or any other condition?

Hello @orlando.plasencia and welcome to TypeOneNation.

I am sorry to hear about this. Does your son have a 504 plan in place? With a 504 plan, your sons needs and accommodations will be met because a 504 plan is s legal document. Things such as when the nurse needs to be called and even accommodations around low blood sugar “attitude forgiveness “ can be spelled out. If you have one please consider adding these accommodations and if you don’t have a 504 it may be time to consider having one.

Good luck.

Hi Joe,

Yes, we have a 504 plan in place and it’s gotten better but only a little. Even when he’s supposedly within normal blood sugar levels, they see it as he has no reason to act out in any kind of way. I could be wrong but even when he’s within normal parameters, doesn’t any kind of drop or raise, within “normal parameters”, doesn’t that affect his mood, mental state, behavior, etc.?

Like I said before, I don’t think this school has had too many students with diabetes or disabilities so it feels like they don’t have any real understanding of what comes with a student who has diabetes and from the last time my wife met with his pediatrician and endo, he’s already in the beginning stages of puberty. So while I agree that certain behaviors are not warranted on his end, it’s hard to expect a 10 year old of acting like “normal” kids his age should. They react as if it’s an inconvenience. We’re in Miami and here they get really strict with students missing more than 10 days or something like that. We got close last year and told he should not miss any more days. When told he’s a diabetic student who should be afforded extra days due to illness or doctor’s visit we were told no, he isn’t and that doc appointments should be made for weekends or after work where he doesn’t miss school.

@orlando.plasencia Orlando, I hear what you are saying. I think at 10 (my boy is 9 and doesn’t have T1) it is a tough time to begin with.

At our public school, a doctor not excuses the “absence” meaning, if I take him to the pediatrician, I always get a note excusing him from school for a conservative amount of time. That, plus some explicit information on the 504 and then you have legal backup for the near future.

You are allowed to call a meeting with the Child care team and make these concerns known to everyone. There are times that the team may have a few members that do not “get” the issue, but these meetings “enforce” your position. Further BS form the school can then be documented and if necessary, you can threaten legal action. Now I know this sounds like an over-reaction but for some school systems, it si what it takes.

T1 is not hugely common. It is possible your son may be the only one… I was the only one out of 400 students, for example. It may be that you are having to teach these educators and this is not an easy place to be.

Contact the local JDRF, South Florida Chapter and get as much information on child advocacy as you can get. Your son cannot be punished for diabetes or for accommodations.

Get a School Toolkit

. You can also contact the ADA http://www.diabetes.org/advocacy/ which is a national group that may be able to help you in your situation.

good luck.

Thank you @joe. All this information is welcomed and I’ve just reached out to the local JDRF for South Florida and see what additional info they can provide. We really feel that they see him as having some simple well managing condition and expect him to simply control his behavior, attitude, etc. Now, we still try and teach him how to behave appropriately and common sense amongst other things but we do give him some forgiveness when his sugar is low or high, etc.

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Is his blood sugar control really the issue here? Is he really low or high every time he gets into trouble in school? I think all kids act out around this age, and telling him that it’s “ok” because it was really just because his blood sugar was off sounds like a way out for him to not correct his behavior. If he tends to lean on diabetes as an excuse for everything, no one will take him seriously when he has a real diabetes problem.

If he really is having BS control issues, obviously work on that and then his behavior should (theoretically) fall into place.


No, most of the time it’s in the afternoon that he may some fluctuation in his sugar level because he’s usually well behaved in the morning. The other day it was the first time he used that as an excuse and we’ve dealt with this since he was a little over a year old so we do know not to tell him it’s ok when he acts out because of his sugar dropped was too high. We really do try to be responsible. His latest incident was because, and it was truly our fault, we forgot to give him his lantus long acting insulin so the following day he woke up high and stayed high most of the day which resulted in him acting out.

And we never have these discussions in front of him so he doesn’t pick up on well, I’m a diabetic so it’s normal or ok to act out or say or do anything I want and I can blame the diabetes.

Hi @ksmerk12, I strongly agree with the meaning of your post.
Diabetes, any kind of diabetes, should not be used as an excuse for misbehavior or inability to live as a normal human being. Diabetes, including “brittle diabetes” with which I was diagnosed, can be successfully managed to allow every one of us to blend in with society and live FULL, active and productive lives.

I’m now in my seventh decade living with diabetes and have achieved more goals than I ever expected. No one in my schools were told that I had diabetes and very few of my work colleagues knew; yes, we can achieve without using diabetes as a crutch.

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I haven’t noticed my daughter’s behavior change with fluctuations in her blood sugar, although I often wonder how it feels for her and I can imagine it’s possible to be more short tempered or prone to misbehavior.
That is nearly impossible to manage from the school standpoint though. A certain behavior being unacceptable with BG in range but later being excused because out of range is confusing for all parties and I think runs the risk of eventually totally “othering” him to his peers.
I’m much more concerned with the bullying talk from your original post. If a kid picked on him for having diabetes of course he would react emotionally and lash out. Has this happened more than once, and if so, I would be focusing on that. Reach out to resources at the school available, a guidance counselor maybe?
I’m sorry you’re going through this, I don’t look forward to facing it ourselves.

I have one other idea to add - - check out the “Juice Box Podcast.” Scott Benner, the “caster” has a daughter with T1, and he has a lot of great info on how to deal with things like this along with lots of other information. You can also contact him directly to get advice on how to handle the situation.
You stated that you don’t think the school has dealt with diabetes much. If this is the case, you need to educate them. JDRF and ADA can both help with that.

Just a thought!

Pam K
T1D 54+ yrs and counting!

Hi there, I am a school nurse (and of course T1 myself), and for a short time I was assigned to a 10yo boy with T1D and behavior issues. Although I think most of his behavior issues stemmed from an unfortunate home life, I did witness the teasing he received. What I usually saw was “hey D____ your NURSE is here”, shouted in front of the class when I arrived for a scheduled (or warranted) finger stick. Naturally this infuriated the student. I hated this and tried to arrange for more subtle meet-ups but it just wasn’t always possible. We all need to learn to navigate whatever social structure life thrusts us into, and being T1D when most others are not is no exception.

The best advice I know how to give is to say, provide as stable, supportive, loving-but-reality-acknowledging environment at home as possible. No family is perfect of course, but a really good one can help a child develop a self-liking, confident core to their personality that will help them to face what school (and life) may dish out.

And I second the advice you’ve had about the 504 and meetings with care teams. Document every interaction with school about this. Best of luck to you!

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My first question is; do you have a 504 plan in place at his school? Have you contacted your local JDRF for your regional area? You can get a lot of useful information and materials can be sent to his school and classroom. Sometimes when people do not fully understand a certain illness it can make it difficult for them to understand the difficulties the child has to deal with. Having JDRF come to the school they can do an in service that can help guide them and be more empathetic and understanding about T1D.

As for the acting out eventually he will learn to somewhat control it. (It is very hard for many to control themselves when they go low or high. When my son is low he becomes aggressive and starts talking and making no sense. When he is high he becomes irritable and whinny. Hang in there you are doing the best you can do!

My first suggestion is to get your son out of that school or have him evaluated and found to have special education needs. If so, federal legislation requires the school district to adapt the educational program to the child’s needs. Some school districts, in some cases refer eligible students to private schools and bear the expense… I’m not a lawyer, but look up “qualifying for special education” using google or start here: https://www.understood.org/en/school-learning/your-childs-rights/basics-about-childs-rights/individuals-with-disabilities-education-act-idea-what-you-need-to-know

You need to contact JDRF, the 504 protects your son making sure he is not being excluded from activities and other things like having unlimited bathroom breaks (when having episodes of high BG) having a juice box and a snack when having low BG. Being able to wash his hands before checking his BG and also giving him the ability to check his BG whenever and wherever he needs. The 504 also gives him unlimited late/absents when do to diabetes related high/low BG and doctors appointments. (Some schools will ask for a doctors note)

Already this year my son has missed a month of school due to beginning to use a CGM and an insulin pump. His absence doesn’t count against him.

If your son’s school is counting his absence and possible late/tardy you will need to revise his 504 to make sure this is included.