Learning and T1D

Hello everyone My name is Jason. I have a son that is now 4 years old and has had T1D since we was 1. We are starting to go down the school road Pre-K. There is no study I know of that links the struggles of learning with T1D. I would like to hear from anyone that can give some insight on how it has effected your child’s learning good or bad.

I would like to thanks everyone for being here and being part of the JDRF. This is a great resource of information.

The only thing we’ve experienced with our son, 10yr old diagnosed 12-30-16, is that he’s tired.
I can tell you once you get into public school, you should have what is called a 504/Individual Education Plan which is written per the medication administration/doctor’s order. Basically, your child has rights under the Americans with Disabilities act to have things like access to nurse/bathroom/water fountain. Extra time for tests if not feeling well, etc.

In addition, when your child enters primary school, you have the right to request testing/evaluation and learning supports for instance if they have a processing disorder, ADHD, dyslexia, etc. you can have access to occupational therapy or physical therapy.

My son is tired because we were having to check him twice, then once a night. Though I don’t have to check bs any longer, I still check in on him since I am afraid of lows at night. I try not to disturb him. I think he too is anxious and wants to be aware of lows.
hopefully we’ll get the GCM soon.

I don’t know that there is necessarily a connection. I was diagnosed at 1 year old and was a straight A student through most of school and even college (I’m now 33). My mom was also diagnosed in elementary school and did well in school. Learning problems are not a guarantee. Your son may have days where he is tired or not feeling well due to ups and downs in his blood sugar, but as long as it’s not happening all of the time he should be fine.

I agree with the 504 plan - good to have, even though I hope you will never have to cite it. I had no learning issues and earned a full ride to college, and went on to law school - I’m now a practicing attorney. Your son will be fine!

When I was in school, for the first few years of elementary school my parents would talk to my teachers and let them know symptoms. As I got older, I took that over, and I became the one to tell my teachers at the start of the year that I had t1d and what symptoms to look for. I rarely had issues, though in my junior year of high school, I do recall having many low blood sugars in my AP biology class (likely because I was over-bolusing for lunch, and that class was right after lunch). My teacher never gave me a hard time about having to retake quizzes or anything - which was great, because then my parents didn’t have to get litigious about it.

My experience was that if I was upfront about it, the school year went smoothly. In a few classes, especially if the teacher seemed like a tough cookie, we would give the teacher a book about t1d. When I was in school, I gave several teachers the book “Needles,” by Andie Dominick - all those teachers loved it, and I think it helped them understand the seriousness of the disease. Not sure what other books are out there that might be better, but that’s a thought, if you’re worried. “Needles” was great, IMO, because it’s short and easy to get through, and it reads like a story. Nothing difficult or complicated about it.

I am a high school teacher and the mother of a 4-year-old daughter who was diagnosed at age 2. She is in preschool now and will be in kindergarten next year. Yes, you need to have a 504 Plan for your son, but most preschools do not do that. This year I have been in close contact with my daughter’s teacher and have been getting some input about how she acts and is able to focus related to her blood sugar levels. I’ve been keeping notes so that when she goes to public school I can make sure that I include certain things on her 504 Plan. I had one student several years ago who was a T1D, and her 504 Plan included: she could have a water bottle in class, she could go to the bathroom as often as she needed, she needed to check her blood sugar before any major tests, and depending on the number she could reschedule any tests without penalty, she was exempt from the attendance policy so if she missed extra days due to diabetes-related conditions she could make up all work without penalty, etc. For my own daughter, there has only been two days so far this year where she had trouble in school - one day was several weeks ago and she was high because she wasn’t feeling well, and her teacher called me saying that during journal time my daughter had trouble focusing. The second time was actually this morning when my daughter was low for the first time at school.

One thing that I had read about online somewhere that I did is that I created “low” boxes for my daughter. I took plastic pencil boxes that you can buy at Walmart or Target for less than $1. I put 3 juice boxes and a couple fun packs of M&M’s in each box. On top of the box I taped a typed form that says: her name, that she is a type 1 diabetic, her birth date, my husband’s and my phone numbers, what to do if she is low, and if she is unresponsive to call 911. I have 3 “low” boxes and they are in different places in her school so that she always has access to one.

I also typed up an informational packet for her teachers that tells information about type 1. I was afraid that if I bought books, the teachers would be overwhelmed with having to read an entire book, so the packet is only 4 pages, which makes it much easier. At the orientation in August I scheduled a time when all of the other parents and students left to meet with the teachers and the director of the preschool. I went over the packet, and I had copies for everyone to keep as a resource. My daughter was with me and was able to vocalize how she personally feels when she is low and high. Since she is at a private preschool, there is not a nurse like there is in public school. I trained her teacher and the director on how to check her blood sugar too. In the packet I have a step-by-step set of directions with pictures on how to check her blood sugar. The first few times they used this and said it was very helpful, but after that they can do it fine now.

Agreed 504 plan is absolutely necessary- for all the reasons that you have read. Also your child is allowed to have as many snacks as needed through the school (to eat whenever and wherever) to check BG (whenever and wherever) to have access to his medical supplies at ALL times. A tricky part of the 504 plan is when field trips arise- your child is also has the right to participate in those even if that means another adult has to follow with his medical supplies and food go with him if he is unable to care for himself under the disabilities act that one was a “grey area” since it won’t be on school premises but he will be under school supervision.

My son is 5 years old and was diagnosed at 2 years old. He went to preschool when he was 4, and he is now in Kindergarten. Luckily so far, his learning has not been affected at all. I agree with the people above who talked about having a 504 plan in place. This will help keep your child safe during the school day and it will help to make sure that his learning will not be affected.

I was always an “A” student, even on bad days. I went all the way through grad school and am now both a manager and a controller (high level accountant) for a multi-national company. I live life “in the numbers” every day, even when I am low or high.

FWIW, I took an IOWA test low in second grade and still managed to score in the top percentiles.

Over my many years of school, and even now at work, when I have an “off” day with blood sugar, everything is harder, but it is doable.

“Low” is the fastest to fix, and is usually the easiest for kids to recognize. Even little kids can understand “I feel shaky” or “I feel dizzy” symptoms. I suspect you know what a “low” looks like for your son. Share that with his teachers. The same way those teachers watch for kids doing the “I have to pee” dance and not asking to go, they can watch for your son’s low symptoms. You still ultimately have to rely on your son first, but the other adults in his life can help him, too.

Not sure this really answers your questions, but I do hope it reassures you about your son’s ability to do well in school.