School-aged children are undergoing an exciting time in their lives, as they engage in new activities, developing their motor, social, and cognitive skills in new clubs, artistic, and athletic adventures. They are learning about independence, responsibility, teamwork, and making choices. However, they still need supervision, support, encouragement, and guidance from parents, who need to stay involved in their children’s lives while giving them a chance to explore the world and challenge themselves on their own.
A new diagnosis of type 1 diabetes most commonly occurs during this age period, which adds even more complexity to this already fast changing stage in their lives. School-aged children might be initially apprehensive of new changes, like frequent blood glucose checks, more clinic visits, or a new insulin pump, but it is amazing how quickly they adapt to new situations and their new reality. As children’s understanding of diabetes increases, many begin to take pride and ownership of their diabetes, often impressing their parents with their courage and acceptance of living with T1D. It is important to remember that, as with all things during this age period, children still do need their caregivers to help them with all aspects of their diabetes management, while they continue to be proud of their children as they mature and grow during this time.
Special considerations during this age period include careful attention to blood glucose levels with changes in activity, growth spurts and puberty, diet, and illness, working with schools to develop optimal plans for supervision, and developing strategies for diabetes management when the child is away from home at afterschool activities, sleepovers, or summer camp. While these changes may seem daunting, we at the Madison Clinic are happy to provide families with the support and guidance needed to keep children and families in the school age period happy and healthy.