I am collecting information about how to tell children at the ages of three, eight, 10 and 15 that they have diabetes and try to explain what it means and what is involved for the rest of their lives, in ways each individual age group can understand. I have searched other web sites, but did not find anything.
The book by Tim Wysocki, The Ten Keys to Helping Your Child Grow Up With Diabetes that is published by the American Diabetes Association reviews how to provide developmentally appropriate explanations of diabetes. as does Understanding Diabetes, 11th Edition by the Barbara Davis Diabetes Center.
In general, for the younger children, I review the fact that insulin helps to turn the food that they eat into the energy they need to grow and do enjoyable activities. Since they don't make enough insulin any more, we need to replace it in a shot so that they can still turn their food into energy. For the older children, I usually tell them everything that I would tell an adult.
Additional comments from Debbie Butler, MSW, LICSW, Licensed Clinical Social Worker:I usually tell the younger children that they need insulin to grow and be healthy, but I agree that it is okay to explain more detail to the older children. Sometimes, it also helps to read a book about diabetes to the younger children. Some families like Rufus Comes Home. I suggest you read the book ahead of time though to make sure that you agree with the whole book. I usually tell parents that they may want to skip a page or two if they do not agree with what the book says. For example, some of the children's books say that the child with diabetes won't be able to eat birthday cake again, which is not necessarily true, so, if you don't agree with that, you may not want to read that section.
Original posting 11 Aug 2006
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