Pubescent boy and T1D this year

Hi- My now 12 year old was diagnosed 1st day of school 8/2018 (6th grade). He was interacting pretty well with us at first but he is becoming increasingly frustrated with all things Diabetes. We are now forbidden (by him) from speaking the word, or the words “insulin”, “number”, “bag”, and a few others. He grunts at us and gets mad. I know no reaction is unheard of, but I’m just not sure how to support him. He does NOT want to find a friend with Type 1- I think he just wants to be “normal” and for it to be gone. Some of this may be his age and puberty starting. I’m not sure what I’m even asking but it’s frustrating and I wondered if anyone else’s child reacted like this. He is compliant, but much less happy these days.

Hello Lisa,

My son Ben, with type one, is also in 6th grade, the difference is that he was diagnosed at 23 months old.
What is still similar though, is that he had the same reaction! I remember having a gathering in my house with other families with boys his age and with type one when he was three. We were all in our basement when he sadently went upstairs and said he didn’t want to be with them…I was able to send him to a diabetes camp when he was in 4th grade and after a huge effort…and he never went back…(.but it did help him)
My advice? Let him go through the mourning process that this diagnose means. If you pay attention, we all go through all the stages of mourning. We all lost things. You lost a healthy son, and he lost part of his health…it takes time to get to the point where you come to term with it…and this is different for each of us…
Let him know that you are there and you trust him. Teenage years are difficult enough to add on top T1…
Hope everything works out.


Hi @Cnlschmidt,

I’m sorry it’s all starting off so rough. This isn’t an easy thing for anyone, but especially the kids. Our son is a year older, and has gone through some similar things. We had him see a counselor for a while so he could talk about it and learn some coping and communication skills that have helped. The counselor also helped identify some other issues that were contributing to his emotional state, which has helped us all in the long run. Maybe ask your son if he’s willing to talk to someone who isn’t a parent, who is going to focus on understanding his thoughts and feelings about this process.

My son says he was just very focused on learning and managing the process of dealing with his diabetes. It’s something that I think kids their age really want to be able to master for themselves.

Good luck, Joel

Hi Lisa. My daughter is 11 and in 6th grade. She was diagnosed in 9/2017, right at the start of her 5th grade year. We all go through some similar things, and we just hope to hit on the right things to make it work for us, so just wanted to relate our experience and what worked for us. The 1st semester at school, she didn’t want anyone to know and was very private about it. Even taking insulin outside of the house made her a little apprehensive. At the start of 2nd semester last year, she started wearing her Dexcom and Omnipod, so people were going to see things, hear alarms and ask questions. I went to class with her and explained what she had and what the new things people might see and hear were, and her class was amazingly supportive. Now, kids in other 5th grades still made comments and said this favorite things line “My Grandpa has Diabetes”. So we still had to deal with some of that. This year, move up to middle school and it looked like it might start all over again. My daughter wanted to apply to JDRF Children’s congress, and one of the things she had to do was give a talk about her diabetes to a group. I convinced her that her Science class would be a good group and she talked to them, and again, it was an amazing experience. Kids asked great, legitimate questions and were generally interested. So, people at school don’t really see her as different anymore, which is huge. The other major thing that happened was her finding a T1D best friend. Hers was totally by coincidence though. We notice another girl in her Sunday school class with a pump, and, while it took her a few weeks to get brave enough to talk to her, they hit it off right away, and now they have someone to talk to that understands which is huge. If you have a JDRF chapter where you live, maybe you can get him to some meet ups. Or, if you have a Type One Nation summit anywhere near, it is well worth going to, and he can meet lots of kids there. One other thing, find some famous people that he likes that are T1D. You will be surprised. Last Type One Nation was had a former Miss America and a contest on American Ninja Warrior with T1D as speakers. Once he starts to see this, he will start to see that he’s not alone and that he can be and is normal.

Hi, that’s a tough age. I’m T1D and didn’t get diagnosed until I was 53. But I still remember what I went through. The mourning stage is very real. Denial, anger and finally acceptance. I’m still struggling with some issues. I’m older but yet, it’s not easy! The best thing that might work is just the hard cold facts. The issues of not talking about things just has to go away. But being honest and direct may be best for him.
Coddling and nursing him, which every Mom wants to do, may not be best for him. You know him better, but it’s something to think about.
He is gonna have Lots of Dr apptments and they are gonna ask about lotsa things. Those things are gonna shock him and possibly scare him. Which can be good and bad at the same time. Yes he just wants to be normal and not have to fool with all this stuff he now has to do. He doesn’t want to be different. He also is noticing girls too! Being different or sick is not cool at his age.
But this is something he can’t avoid or change! Genetically the lottery picked him. He won and well, it just is and he may have to be forced some to learn to accept the things he cannot change.
A counselor, Dr, or therapist may get through to him quicker. But he may be just flat pissed that he has all this to deal with. If possible a cgm (constant glucose meter) may help. It also has a share app. You can know more about his diabetes than he might be willing to share. You will know if he is going way high or dropping to low. You can actually see if he is eating stuff he shouldn’t and there will be a graphic proof of what’s happening. That parts good and bad, but it will help you understand some of the moodiness going on. You won’t have to rely on his take on how he feels, you’ll have something to look at to give you indications of what’s going on. He’s already dealing with hormones, if that isn’t enough, he’s got diabetic issues that are chiming in as well.
I went thru several months of being a major A$$. It wasn’t me, my wife finally figured that out. But once I got the cgm, it showed her why I was such a pain in the butt to deal with. It also showed me too! That was the important part for me, it helped me to see how big an A$$ I was being. When I was more or less normal she could talk to me about it and that helped. It is true that he can and will say things and not remember what he did or said. That’s a real tough pill to swallow. It was and still is for me!! I’m not defending any actions or things he might say or do, I’m trying to either remind you or inform you that it can and does happen. Both of you, yourself and your son, may have to deal with that issue.
Irrational fears, anger, moodiness, all those things come from being out of whack with the insulin dosages or because the pancreas decided to be helpful when it doesn’t need to. All the above is also part of puberty too! And more.
That’s all why I say being honest, frank and direct may help him to act better. Is he gonna use this to his advantage? Oh yeah. Is he gonna eat things he’s not supposed to? Oh yeah.
Does he realize that his friends are gonna see this and wonder what’s wrong with him? Nope, he does not! He may not realize he’s gonna be a pain in the butt to his friends as well as you. His only saving grace is gonna be you knowing that it’s possible it may not be just him being difficult. But his friends may not know and they won’t be understanding, because they don’t know.
Yeah he’s gonna get teased and razzed by his so-called friends. But his reactions to this are gonna be very important. Getting a thick skin about it may be helpful.
I hope I helped you to see some hints you might not have thought about. Your gonna have some rough times ahead if your not careful and they might be helped if you think about some of the things I’ve mentioned. It may help if he knows these things too! God only knows about that. But I know for me, getting it straight and to the point helped me to “see” myself a little better, so that I could recognize I was being stupid and making things worse. At least I could apologize at a later time and my wife came to realize, it really wasn’t just me being a butthead!
Hope it helps somehow. If he needs someone to talk to, let me know, I’ll do my best to help. Sometimes the hardest part is learning to ask for help. Independence is tough to give up