A few weeks ago, I got a call from the school nurse’s office. The voice on the other end of the line said, “Hi, Mrs. M. I just wanted to let you know that everything is okay with Kaitlyn, but she’s been high today, and I think she needs a new site.” Sure enough, I went over to the school and it was pretty obvious that her insulin pump site was not working properly and she definitely needed a change. Her blood sugar was very high, and she measured high for ketones as well.
What was most concerning though, was that she was sitting in the office taking a math test on her lap.
The nurse, office staff, and other students were buzzing in and out of the nurse’s office. I was prepping and putting on Kaitlyn’s site and making her get up to do finger sticks and a urine check. She wasn’t feeling very well because of her blood sugar levels and ketones. All in all, these were probably the worst possible conditions to take a test!
Apparently, Kaitlyn didn’t want to fall behind and just wanted to get the test out of the way, so her teacher just had her take it with her when she came up to the office. Math is her hardest subject this year, and almost her entire grade comes from her performance on each chapter test. Needless to say, she didn’t do very well on the test. It was her lowest score of the year so far.
Luckily, she has an accommodation written in her 504 plan that states, “Student will be given the opportunity to retake tests when her glucose levels have fallen out of the optimal range. She will be given the higher of the test scores.” We had never once had to use this accommodation before, even though it had been written in her plan since she started middle school almost three years ago, but now was definitely the time. I wrote an email to the teacher explaining the situation, and Kaitlyn was able to retake the test! She did much better the second time — in fact, she practically aced it. I was grateful we had this accommodation written into her plan.
We just had Kaitlyn’s annual 504 meeting where her teachers, nurse, counselor, and assistant principal met to review her health plan and accommodations. We made slight changes to her accommodations, but most stayed the same. These are some of the other accommodations we have listed on her plan:
- Student will be allowed to leave class without penalty to check blood sugar.
- Student will have blood sugar checked before and after she attends physical education. She will not be penalized for non-participation related to blood sugar level changes.
- Student is allowed to have her cell phone in class in order to have access to glucose monitoring and to contact parent for medical reasons.
- Student will be given additional time to complete assignments with no penalty when missing class for fluctuations in glucose levels or for illness.
- Student will be allowed to have backpack in class.
We’ve had such great support from Kaitlyn’s team in middle school, but we don’t know for sure what kind of support we’ll have in a few months as she goes into high school. It’s nice having a legal document to fall back on that will follow her throughout her schooling.
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.