When I was a chaperone on Kaitlyn’s last field trip, there was a boy from another kindergarten class who I didn’t recognize. He came right over to Kaitlyn, pointed at her and said, “I know who she is. She’s the slowest eater.” I watched Kaitlyn’s face to see her reaction, but she was unaffected by the boy’s comment. I had to chuckle to myself a little bit, and then I explained to the little boy that Kaitlyn always has to finish her lunch so she won’t get sick. I suppose the explanation satisfied him, but I’m sure he was still confused.

Well, this is just the beginning of the comments and questions Kaitlyn will get her whole life. Why can’t she just eat a bite or two of her lunch and run off to the playground with the rest of the kids? Why can’t she share her food with anyone else? Why does she visit the nurse’s office every day? Why does her mom attend so many field trips, school parties and birthday celebrations?

Right now, we’re really lucky that Kaitlyn doesn’t seem to be too embarrassed about her unique situation. As she grows and becomes more aware in social environments, I wonder if she’ll start to feel different from everyone else. Will the other kids’ curiosity become more like ridicule? Will her self-esteem suffer? I don’t have an answer.

I’m learning as I go, just like she is. So far, I have come up with a few ideas to help her talk to others about type 1 diabetes and feel confident at the same time.

  1. You are not alone. We have really enjoyed getting to know other kids with type 1 diabetes. If Kaitlyn associates with others who deal with the same issues, hopefully she’ll feel less isolation and loneliness. I constantly tell her, “You are not alone.”
  2. Be informed. I want Kaitlyn to know as much about diabetes as possible. As she gets older, that might include the science behind it, what causes it, how her body is affected by it, why she takes insulin, what research is being done in the field, basal rates and carbohydrate ratios, how different foods affect blood sugar, etc. As she gets to know more about her diabetes and how to manage it, I think she’ll be more confident explaining it to her peers.
  3. Keep it positive. Attitude is contagious. If I consistently have a positive attitude when talking about diabetes with others, then I think she will too!

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.

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