Non compliance in my teenage son

My 17yo son has been T1 for 5+ years. He’s never really had a handle on it but was decently managed at the beginning because my (then); husband and I as well as school nurses helped keep him in line. The older he has become, he’s more independent, but will not do what’s expected of him with his insulin and testing. He had a pump in the beginning but self-sabotaged and the pediatric endocrinologist said he has to prove himself since he completely messed up before. My son had ADHD as well, so it really is hard on him to concentrate on what needs to be done, since he’s not on any meds for that. When he was first diagnosed, he was taken off those meds because it affected his eating habits. My question is, how do I reach him to show him the importance of taking care of himself early and truly independently?

When I was a teen one of the things I looked forward to most was getting my driver’s license. I don’t know if this is universal but in many areas of you have a condition that could result in loss of consciousness, a physician has to sign a form from the DMV saying they believe their patient is safe to drive. The doctor will also indicate when they should do the next review. I do them periodically - my last one was late last year and next one is due in late 2022.
If he’s not driving yet the prospect might serve as incentive.

@jacobs3616 Hi Christy, and Welcome to the JDRF TypeOneNation Forum!!! You as a parent, and your son as a PWD [Person With Diabetes] are not unique; I hope that some parents here will step forward and tell you how they hace coped in this situation, I will speak from having been like your son at that age and successfully moved ahead to celebrate 80 years of life.

During the five years that you have been helping your son live with his diabetes, you must have heard that successful diabetes management is self-directed. That means that your son will need some sort of a “wake-up call” so that he realizes responsibility. I’m not saying that you need to do anything overt, but I do suggest that you keep an eye on him so he doesn’t let himself deteriorate too far.

My “wake-up” came at age 18 when I realized that I kept falling asleep with my face in a book and needed to drop out of college, get a job and support myself. This put a damper on my dream - as my mother reminded me of my intention of being a millionaire by age 35, retiring and traveling the world. Soon, being in the “rat-race” working world, I needed to do something about eating properly and figuring out insulin needs - decades before good insulin , glucose meters and modern awesome diabetes technology. Once I became aware that I needed to do something, and followed through, I was able to take college courses after work, get promoted to a supervisory position and, get ahead with my life dreams.

Please tell your son now that diabetes is HIS responsibility and should be on his mind every day - but that he should NOT let diabetes govern his every move; foremost, be encouraging. Effective diabetes management will allow him to do whatever he desires - without limitation.

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Hello Ms. Christy. As a T1D that has had it since 1963 I can attest that I personally went through rebellion stages and not even wanting to admit that I had Diabetes. Cause and effect are issues that your son needs to come to terms with. I can testify that the years of being rebellious comes back to bite you down the road with kidney issues, circulation problems, having car accidents, etc. Being his mother, he may not want to hear your advise telling you that you don’t understand what he’s going through putting a guilt trip on you and making you back off. Being as old as he is if you know what he wants or likes to do that can be used as leverage to give incentives to get him to take more and better control of his condition. I recommend that you find a counselor that specializes in talking to kids that have special needs that maybe able to educate him on long term effects of mismanagement and find out his thoughts about how he sees his Diabetes as something he considers a hindrance. Also talk to him about his ideas on the situation if you find someone willing to talk to him, because he has to want to help himself first because forcing him into something may not work. Tell him with all of the modern technology evolving to help manage T1D’s now and continuing to get better, his future can be promising and all he needs to do is want to live it. I hope my words give you some insight and helps you and your son. Good luck and let us know how he’s doing.

Hi again. There are young people in the forum who have written in liking for others their age to connect with. Some have shared social media IDs (no offense to anyone but be careful as the forum is open to anyone and as with any online contact you can only assume they are so they say they are) and have invited people to check out blogs they have started.
If he’s in high school you could ask the school nurse if there are other students with Type 1 that would be willing to connect with him. HIPAA probably prevents them giving out other students info but if he’s willing to share his (or you are) I don’t see why they couldn’t.
Some people try to ignore their diabetes because acknowledging it makes them feel different from other people, while some acknowledge it and work hard to control it so they can live as others do with some additional care - to control it so it doesn’t control them.
I’ve attached a couple of links to articles on celebrities with diabetes. Many of the names are more familiar to adults but there are some athletes and performers he will be familiar with🤞🏽.

Many years ago I read a story of a teen who refused to take her insulin because she didn’t want to be different from her friends. She was rushed to the hospital from school with DKA. I’m certainly not saying this to scare you. You already know what could happen but for some these things are only theoretical until they hear about it happening to someone else or - heaven forbid - it happens to them.
In high school I took one shot of NPH (an older formulary) at breakfast. School friends knew about my diabetes but for the most part no one saw me take my insulin until I went to college and had a roommate. BG meters didn’t come out until about the time I graduated college so it wasn’t until I went into the work world that people saw me do a fingerstick (I did them discretely at my desk but sometimes someone by at that moment). It wasn’t a big deal for students or people I worked with. They might ask what I eat doing and I have a quick explanation. Of course I did give roommates info about what I looked like when I was low - or high - and what to do and found them to be willing to learn and help if need be.
I know I’m preaching to the choir. Tread lightly and stealthily😉 in your efforts to help him learn for himself the importance of self care. Add I said before, driving can be a great incentive - at least it was in my day before you could set up an Uber to take you where you want to go. If he already drives you can refuse him access to your car. If he doesn’t, he will need your permission as well as a “note from his doctor” as described above.
Connecting with responsible Type 1s his age might be the best way as they can be powerful influences.