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Type 1 diabetic discriminated against

I want to make my 4 year old Type 1 diabetic’s story heard.
 
Zaiya is 4 years old, and was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes on 13th December 2010.
This means she is insulin dependent, and requires insulin in the morning, lunch time, and evening, and if her sugar is high in between those times, insulin needs to be administered to bring her sugar level down. 
 
Zaiya started a new school in January this year, because we believed that this move to a new school, was in her best interest, in light of her newly diagnosed condition, and because the school were clear that they had had a diabetic child move through the school in previous years, and that they would be able to look after her condition. 
 
So this means testing her sugar with a glucometer every 2-3 hours, and monitoring her moods (as when she becomes tearful and emotional, it normally indicates the creep into the low blood glucose levels.  When she is high, she is just like any other kid, and loves to show off, and act all silly… and testing her bg levels will confirm if she is just being silly and showing off, or as a result of high sugar levels, which means she will subsequently need insulin to be administered.   
 
After her initial diagnosis, Type 1 diabetic children go through what is called a honeymoon phase – which is the “nicer & easier” part after diagnosis.  What happens during this phase, is, the child’s insulin injections and required levels to get rid of sugar in the blood, are less frequent.  Why… ? Because the pancreas is still producing some insulin, because of the break it was given on diagnosis, when the child was on a constant insulin drip. 
When this period is over (which can range from 3 months to 1 year), her pancreas stops all insulin production, and is 100% insulin dependent.   This phase is different for every child.   Some are luckier than others. 
 
So insulin is what keeps her alive.   So in June, when Zaiyas Paed advised that Zaiya now needs an insulin injection at lunch time – due to new high blood glucose levels at lunch time, which meant, this would need to be done by the teacher.   The teachers were sent on training with the Paedetrician, in her first month of Zaiya starting at the school, so they were fully trained on her condition, as well as taught how to inject her.  As well as the emotional and psychological implications of this condition.
 
Very long and frustrating story short, her school informed us yesterday, that they cannot have my daughter at the school anymore.
 
They advised us that they cannot be responsible for administering insulin – despite having done it previously.   The school committee have said it is illegal, and cannot continue to administer insulin, and the added responsibility of caring for her condition, is not in her best interest, and that they only have her best interests at heart.
 
So Zaiya didn’t  go to school today… she had to stay at home with her Nanna – and she kept asking me why she is on holiday so soon, because she thought her holidays only started after her christmas concert in 2 weeks time…. How do I tell my 4 year old, that the school don’t want her back – because she is diabetic.   The principal and executive committee chairperson, advised that they would keep her on if we employed a registered nurse to attend school with her and follow her around, to check her sugar and administer insulin.   How is that going to make my daughter feel.   Since her diagnosis my main aim, is to make my daughter feel as normal as possible – both emotionally and psychologically.   The only thing that makes her different to her friends, is that she needs insulin injected into her tummy – because her pancreas is sleeping (in her own words)!   The school advised me yesterday, that I need to make her  realise that she is different to the other kids, and that her snack times and lunch time are different to her friends – and she is not like her friends… When all I ever want is for my baby girl to have as normal a life as possible.  Sure she knows that she has her injection in her tummy 3 times a day, but does that mean she deserves to be kicked out of the school… and labelled.  She has the right to be educated like any other child… and this school is discriminating against my daughter… and this kills me…!!!! 
 
 – Paula Fisher

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3 Comments

  1. Delores Pilkington Delores Pilkington

    Makes me so angry! I realise it is a responsibility for the school, but she is not an invalid! She just has a special need. Ridiculous and short sighted as well as being cold hearted. I know a 5 year old that will be changing schools next year. Is she also going to be discriminated against. Wake up people! Diabetes is on the increase!

  2. Jacques Jacques

    The best solution is to look at insulin pump therapy – I use it and most people don’t even know that I am diabetic. There is new pumps on the market that can monitor and control the dosing although this treatment is very expensive and most medical aids won’t pay for it. Just remember that they will in future also discriminate when she applies for a work, participate in sports etc. This is the reality!

  3. Deidre Fichardt Deidre Fichardt

    As a diabetic myself, and as a teacher, I have much sympathy with you and your daughter. But I also understand where the school is coming from. Should something happen to her while at school, they are at risk of getting into so much trouble. The truth is we are different from other people, we have a so much more stressed live than “normal” people. Our lives could end any minute because of our diabetes, and if I was not a diabetic myself I would never take such a risk with a child in my class. If something must happen to a child in my class for whom I was responsible, I would never forgive myself. I would also have refused to take care of an insulin dependent child, it is a HUGE responsibility, and you must keep in mind that there are also other children in that class that needs the attention and care of the teacher. I really feel sorry for you but please try and understand that they are not discriminating against your child, but doing what is best for both parties involved. It will get easier as your child gets older and are able to look after herself. When she is old enough to attend grade 1 and MUST attend a school, it should be easier cause by then she should be able to tell the teacher if something does not feel right and so. The best for her now is to be with someone who can look after her and her alone where she gets the necessary help to deal with her diabetes, I really feel for you and hope that you can see where the school is coming from with this. Good luck.

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