If you live in the UK and have a child with juvenile diabetes, life just got a little bit easier thanks to the Children and Families Bill that goes into effect this September. The bill, championed by Diabetes UK, requires all schools to make provisions for children with Type 1 diabetes, as well as other conditions such as epilepsy and asthma.
- It means that no school will be able to deny admission to a child because they don’t have staff or resources to help check blood levels. They will have to get the staff and resources.
- It means that no school will tell a child she can’t go on an overnight field trip because they don’t have a nurse or other trained medical profession. They’ll have to find one.
- It means that no school will be able to exclude a child from playing soccer or running track because the coach doesn’t want to deal with the challenges of a T1 athlete. He’ll have to deal.
- It means that no teacher will ever tell your child that no, he can’t have a snack now, because it’s not snack time, no matter what his glucose level says.
A new provision in the Children and Families Bill means that schools must offer the same level of care for your T1 child as you do at home. It’s the law now.
It was a long time coming.
Diabetes UK has been sounding the alarm for years about the dearth of support available to an estimated 1 million children whose needs went too often unmet. Frighteningly, it’s the youngest children who were most in danger with a spotty and often careless approach to their care. My article here cites a 2012 study, in the British Columbia Medical Journal, that identifies children from 6 to 12 as most at risk of substandard care. As a new father, this worries me, as it should all of us.
With most T1 cases being diagnosed between the ages of 2-3 and 10-12, this means an enormous number of newly diagnosed children have been going off to schools where the staff may know little about diabetes and have no knowledge of basic care, let alone what to do in an emergency. It’s enough to turn even the busiest parent of a T1 child into a fervent homeschooler. So what if you can’t remember how to do long division? At least you know how to check blood sugar and work an insulin pen!
But the new law means that we don’t have to re-learn all that math we long since forgot, and we can send our children to school without worrying how they’re going to get through the day safely. To help spread the word, Diabetes UK is offering a packet of information for parents of T1 children, including the policies that should be in place at each school and the care your child should expect. You can request one at their website.
When I was diagnosed T1 at the age of 3, my parents had little in the way of support to ensure my care when I was away from home. Thankfully, that is not the case for children who will be diagnosed this year. Little by little, our society is starting to understand that there are a lot of us T1s out here, and that diabetes is serious, but manageable, and a little knowledge goes a long way. Hooray for the UK, which, with this new measure, both helps its children and lays down a challenge to other countries. The challenge is this: Top that!
We at Timesulin applaud the wonderful work of Diabetes UK. Diabetes UK took an early decision to support us by promoting and selling our product to its members, the first patient organization to do so. We are forever grateful and supportive of their work. Keep it up!