New law seeks to make type 1 diabetes management easier in Illinois schools

Children with type 1 diabetes often have a difficult time managing their condition while they are at school. Other children may tease them about the condition, adults often place unnecessary restrictions on them and the fast-paced schedule can make checking blood sugar and administering insulin when needed difficult.

Pediatric endocrinologist Kathleen Muglia recently wrote in the Des Plaines Patch that she sees many young patients with the condition who complain about teachers who would not let them eat sugar treats when the rest of the class was, or of school nurses who would not let them check their blood sugar or administer insulin anywhere but the nurse's office.

These things can make it extremely difficult for a child with type 1 diabetes to receive a normal school experience and to manage their blood sugar effectively. Muglia called on school staff to become more educated and sensitive to the needs of diabetic students.

She may soon get her wish. The Illinois state legislature recently passed a bill that requires staff at schools to be more flexible in allowing children with type 1 diabetes to self-administer care. Students who prove to be competent are to be allowed to check their own blood sugar and administer insulin whenever and wherever they need to.

Furthermore, the law requires that schools assign delegated care aides, who are trained in how to care for diabetics and are able to step up when the school nurse is not available. Both students with diabetes and care aides will be provided with training on how to handle various situations in the absence of a professional caregiver.

While the law may not remove all the barriers to effective blood sugar management faced by school children with type 1 diabetes, it may make the daily maintenance of the disease a little easier.