Yes, I said college testing! It seems incredible to me too that we’re already beginning to think of such things. In James’ case, he’s young to be starting the testing circuit. As a freshman in high school, he has a few precious years yet until college arrives, but the testing process starts early where we live.
James’ high school recently offered the opportunity for freshman to take the PSAT. When I heard that, I waffled back and forth about whether I wanted him to take it or not. Part of me thought we could easily skip the expense and the trouble — it is optional, after all, and he’s so young! But when I researched it, I learned that taking the test more times usually leads to a better final score, and I decided I wanted him to try it, if for no other reason than to familiarize himself with the format.
Of course, at the time I’d worked this all out, I hadn’t quite thought about the type 1 diabetes angle of the whole thing. When I asked, I discovered that James would not be able to bring his testing kit with him into the exam without requesting special accommodations. But if we did set up accommodations, then he would be able to bring all his supplies in with him, including his continuous glucose monitor (CGM) and his testing kit. And if his blood sugar were to go low during the exam, he would be able to stop the time clock, give himself sugar, and continue with the exam only when his blood sugar was back in range.
That sounded like a much a better situation for him. I was all for getting accommodations. Unfortunately by the time we had figured out that he wanted to take the test and that he would need to get accommodations, there was very little time left for the approval of said accommodations to happen! Thankfully James’ high school counselor is amazing and she went over the process with us that very same day in order to get the accommodation request submitted as quickly as possible.
Even a week before the test, we were unsure if he’d be taking it or not. We’d paid for it, and the cost was nonrefundable. We started toying with the idea of James taking it without accommodations, but I just had a hard time thinking through all the what-ifs. Luckily, two days before the exam, the accommodations came through!
According to James, the testing process went really smoothly. It was one of those days where he hardly needed his accommodations. His blood sugar was almost perfectly in range the whole time. We did do our best to aim for ideal blood sugar beforehand (by staying on top of nighttime blood sugar levels, planning a low-carb breakfast, etc.). Still, we felt very lucky that had anything happened, James would have been ready and prepared.
The high school counselor told us that part of the reason that his accommodations were approved so easily (and relatively quickly) is that he has always had a 504 plan in place since his diagnosis. This shows the college testing board that we are not seeking special treatment just to get a leg up on the exam (which has wide-ranging repercussions for college admittance!). Having a supportive counselor was also a huge help.
For James, taking the test early turned out to be a really good experience. Not only did it familiarize him with the format of this very important exam, giving him some experience and confidence, but it also provided a nice dry run for college testing with accommodations. Though I’m still in denial that college is actually coming up so soon!
Disclaimer: The experiences and suggestions recounted in these articles are not intended as medical advice, and they are not necessarily the “typical” experiences of families with a child who has type 1 diabetes. These situations are unique to the families depicted. Families should check with their healthcare professionals regarding the treatment of type 1 diabetes and the frequency of blood glucose monitoring. Jen and Kim are real moms of kids with type 1 diabetes and have been compensated for their contributions to this site.