Hi, Diana. Some good thoughts appear above. I will add a couple based on my history of work with people who have T1, and from my 60 years of living with this disorder.
First, let me correct a comment above that is not completely correct. It is only when blood glucose levels fall below about 60mg/dl (an acute “emergency”) or persist at >240 or higher for several days (which may lead to DKA) that learning really shows much impairment. With T1 diabetes blood glucose levels are prone to “bounce around” between about 80mg/dl and 240mg/dl during the course of the day even when management efforts are excellent. So don’t worry about blood glucose levels causing a child to lag behind his/her peers in school unless the child is persistently hypoglycemic or is persistently very hyperglycemic.
Now, during an acute hypoglycemic episode useful learning is interrupted. And for about thirty minutes after the episode the youngster may have difficulty attending to information that is presented (he/she may appear somewhat obtunded). But that will resolve and the youngster will return to “normal.” So the key is to avoid hypoglycemic episodes and persistent (days-in-a-row) hyperglycemia.
As far as the emotional side of this issue is concerned, I would suggest two things. First, dispel the idea that anyone did anything wrong (i.e., did anything that made the child develop diabetes). Guilt can really hamper successful management of diabetes. No one is at fault. Diabetes “just happens.” I can’t count on two hands the number of children who told me they thought they developed diabetes because of something they did. And the same is true for parents of children who have diabetes. (This is a complex topic that is too involved to adequately address in a social media post). The point is, no one is at fault.
The second thing I would suggest is this; lots of hugs! You might be amazed at how much it means to a youngster when mom, dad, siblings, or whoever sits down with the affected child, gives them a hug, and asks, “How ya’ doin’?” The conversation can start from there, include “We’re gonna’ wrestle this bear together,” discuss the mechanics of painful shots (e.g., where shots hurt less, don’t stick your fingers in the pads - use the sides, etc.) and help the child know he/she is not alone (they learn people are truly interested). When these kinds of conversations start in grade school it makes it much easier for the child when he/she hits the teenage years - it opens lines of communication that will stay open as those tough teenage issues begin to surface. The self-confidence and self-worth that they develop will support them the rest of their lives.
But, after a “hug session,” get up and “do normal stuff.” In other words, get up and do those things that you would normally do with the child if he/she did not have Type 1. Consciously develop the sense that “we’re in it together and we’re normal.” If you allow the hug session to go on for too long the youngster may develop the impression that “being sick” is the way to get attention. That doesn’t work well, for anyone. So plan what you are going to do after a “hug session” well before you sit down with the child to ask how he/she is doing. You’re shaping functional behavior - that’s what we do as parents. You’re just having to add in the “extra” of managing diabetes. (These “hug sessions” can actually bring families closer together, but that’s another topic.)
Hope this makes sense. And good luck!