Kids, Teens, Parents

Kids

Kids with diabetes can do anything other kids can do. Kids can play sports, eat pizza, play and get involved in a variety of activities.

Diabetes Camps

Diabetes camp offers children a place to learn, play and connect. Diabetes camp also offers parents the piece of mind that their child has 24-hour medical care. Each summer, our center's doctors and nurses volunteer their time at both Chris Dudley Basketball Camp and Gales Creek Camp to help provide a safe and fun environment for children living with diabetes.

Chris Dudley Basketball Camp

The Chris Dudley Basketball Camp is for children with diabetes between the ages of 10 and 17.

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Gales Creek Camp

The Gales Creek Camp for Kids with Diabetes is for children with type 1 diabetes from preschool to high school.

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Pediatric Endocrinology Clinics in Oregon

We know it is not always possible for children with diabetes and their families to come to OHSU. Our pediatric doctors travel around Oregon to provide care. We have clinics in Bend, Coos Bay, Eugene, Grants Pass, Klamath Falls, Medford, Ontario and Salem. 

Contact us

Teens

Being a teenager is hard enough without having to deal with diabetes 24 hours a day, seven days a week. However, the reality is that diabetes is always with you. It never goes away. The information on this web page can help you to manage your diabetes to the best of your ability.

Being a teen and having diabetes is not easy. At this stage of your life, it's normal to want and need more independence from your parents or caregivers. In most healthy families, this happens gradually over the teen years. Over time, managing your diabetes can also become your responsibility. How much responsibility you can handle depends on your maturity level.

Doing more than you're ready for can result in poor diabetes care and even trips to the hospital. For teens with diabetes, it's a good idea to keep your parents or caregivers involved and take on new tasks gradually. With your family's support, you can actually take better care of your diabetes.

But sharing responsibility can be a tough balancing act. When it comes to diabetes care, you and your parents may disagree about who is responsible for what. If you're like most teens, you might also argue about other things, such as curfews or chores. Having a lot of family conflict can affect your diabetes self-care, and even your blood sugar levels.

On the other hand, getting support from your parents, talking with them about your diabetes and other challenges and finding solutions together can actually help you manage your diabetes better. Family support will help you take care of yourself and stay healthier.

If you feel like you are struggling to communicate with your parents about diabetes or other issues, you may want to talk with the social worker or psychologist at the Harold Schnitzer Diabetes Health Center. They are trained to help families and teens with diabetes, and can help find solutions.

At this point in your life, you may not want to do diabetes care at school or in social situations. Testing your blood glucose, taking insulin or eating or drinking something different can make you stand out or feel abnormal. Worrying about what other people think can be a barrier to good diabetes care.

A good solution is to teach one close friend about your diabetes. They can back you up by explaining what you need to do and why, if anyone asks. Having someone around who knows your diabetes care is important and can help you stick with your routine. A friend can give you emotional support, and might even make diet and exercise changes with you-something that would keep both of you healthier.

Coping with Diabetes

You can't ignore your diabetes. It doesn't go away, but you can't let it take over your life either. There is a give and take to diabetes, including physical, emotional, social and financial aspects.

The best way to cope with having diabetes is to be open about your thoughts, feelings and how you are coping in general with your diabetes care. Your family, friends and medical team are here to support you.

If your family is a source of stress, it may be helpful to talk with a school counselor or someone from your medical team. A support system can help you through the ups and downs of your care, and help you remember that you are not alone.

Diabetes Burnout

The challenge of living with and managing diabetes can cause diabetes burnout. You have been managing diabetes for years, but  the realization that you will have diabetes for the rest of your life becomes overwhelming. Sometimes diabetes self-care becomes automatic and careful self-care is pushed aside.

Signs of burnout include but are not limited to:
  • Skipping meals to avoid testing or not testing
  • Not recording blood sugars
  • Lying to your parents, doctor or both about diabetes-related self-care
  • Reusing old needles because you don't feel like changing them
  • Leaving your diabetes supplies at home 
  • Deciding not to take your insulin

Diabetes burnout is so common that the American Diabetes Association published an entire book on the subject: Diabetes Burnout, by Dr. William Polonsky. Dr. Polonsky explains that burnout involves dealing with the emotions and behaviors that come from realizing diabetes will always be part of your life, and that even with the very best care, your diabetes may not always be in control.

If you think you have diabetes burnout, talk to your doctor and parents. Even though you can't take a break from diabetes, you can get support and help from your medical team and family members.

Healthy Eating

Eating with diabetes is not really that much different than the way we would like to see most people eat. With diabetes, the goal is to eat balanced meals at least three times a day. A balanced meal contains carbohydrate (starch, fruit, milk, yogurt), protein (meat, poultry, fish, eggs) and some fat (olive oil, avocado, soft or liquid margarine, mayonnaise).

Alcohol & Drugs

The problem with alcohol and drug use is that it can lead to physical and psychological addiction, in addition to negatively affecting your diabetes. If you choose to drink alcohol, talk to your doctor or diabetes educator about ways to be safe.
If you do decide to drink some alcohol, it is very important not to drink on an empty stomach. Food (carbohydrate) should be eaten with alcohol.

Contrary to popular belief, the body does not convert the alcohol you drink into blood sugar. Although a 12 oz. regular beer has about 15 grams of carbohydrate, this carbohydrate is in addition to the alcohol in the beer. The major issue with alcohol consumption is actually the risk for low blood sugar. This is because alcohol interferes with blood sugar being released from the liver if your blood sugar drops.
Teens & Alcohol - Learn More
Teens & Drugs - Learn More

Transitions - Becoming an Adult with Diabetes

Becoming an adult is the biggest challenge of your teen years. For teens with diabetes, this is also a critical time. This is because you gradually take on the responsibility for your future: your diabetes care, your health in general and the way you function emotionally and socially.

At this point in life, you are probably making major decisions and going through major milestones. These can include:

Roommates & Diabetes

With all this going on, you need to pay careful attention to your diabetes in order to stay healthy. However, making the transition from a teen with diabetes to an adult with diabetes can also pose some challenges.

First, teens with type 1 diabetes can lose track of their medical team when they become adults. They have trouble finding a new doctor or building a good relationship with their medical team. When you were a kid with diabetes, your medical team focused on you and your family. Now that you are becoming an adult, your doctor will focus just on you. This can be a major change, and affect your diabetes care.

Second, teens and young adults can also be at-risk for behaviors like smoking, unprotected sex and experimenting with drugs and alcohol. These behaviors can affect your diabetes care. The challenges of becoming an adult make it very important to have a diabetes doctor and medical team.

Third, just changing doctors can be a challenge. If you have type 1 diabetes, you were probably diagnosed at a fairly young age. Your relationship with your health care team might be one of the longest relationships in your life. If you are attached to your doctor and support team, it might be stressful to end that relationship when you become an adult.

Finally, just the transition from being a teen to being an adult can make it very hard to control your diabetes. Changing doctors and health care teams can make diabetes care even more difficult. You might be tempted to skip visits, or avoid finding a new doctor and medical team. Our center's team can help a you to manage this challenging period.

Parenting Youth with Diabetes

Parenting can be challenging at best and learning that your child has diabetes can be devastating. Helping to care for your child's diabetes is

  • Learn as much as you can about diabetes.
  • Enlist help with qualified medical professionals including endocrinologist, certified diabetes educators, and psychologist that are trained to address the challenges both you and your child face in diabetes.
  • Gain support from friends, family and neighbors by sharing the basics to diabetes care.
  • Form a partnership with your child's doctor and healthcare team.

Seek to volunteer/ for organizations like the American Diabetes Association and the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation to keep up with new research and treatments. Find out what the local chapters offer. They may have a mentor program, connecting you to another family with a child with diabetes.

Help your child meet other kids with diabetes through community activities, online groups and programs for diabetes support and education.

We believe including the family as part of the healthcare team is important to make sure kids and teens with diabetes stay as healthy as possible.

Depression, Anxiety and Diabetes
Depression and anxiety seem to be more common in people with diabetes. While we don't yet know why, you should know your child may be at risk. If you know the signs of depression and anxiety, you can get these conditions treated sooner rather than later.

Signs and symptoms of depression include:

  • Changes in sleep, eating and behavior (too much or not enough)
  • Sadder than usual
  • Unable to enjoy pleasant activities
  • Acting withdrawn
  • Expressing hopelessness
  • Not taking care of diabetes

There may be other signs that your child is depressed. If you notice unusual behavior or have concerns, you can talk to your child's doctor, diabetes educator or our social worker or child psychologist.

Signs and symptoms of anxiety include:

  • Frequent worry, panic and sometimes irritability Feeling overwhelmed with anxiety
  • Feeling unable to handle basic diabetes care
  • The recommended treatment for depression and anxiety is a combination of cognitive-behavioral therapy (counseling) and medication. While both of these can be effective on their own, studies show that they work best together.  
Families and Diabetes

Research tells us that family support can help people with conditions like diabetes. However, studies also show that families can have negative effects, especially when there is conflict. Often, parents of children with diabetes have conflict with their children over diabetes management.

Why is the family so important to people with diabetes? Family members are the most likely to help children with diabetes with day-to-day care. They are also most likely to give advice about diabetes care and general health. Parents and other family members set the example-good or bad--for diet, exercise and working with the health care team. Finally, family support (or family stress) directly affects the health of people with diabetes. For example, constant stress makes blood sugar harder to control.

Social Support and Diabetes

Humans are social beings. We can also experience social barriers. For example, we may be overly concerned about social acceptance. If a child with diabetes is concerned about what people think, they may not want to maintain diabetes care because it makes them stand out. Teens often have this problem, because they are very concerned about what their friends think of them.

Lack of support can also be a social barrier. Having diabetes often means making lifestyle changes. This can be especially difficult for you and your child if you don't have family members and friends to cheer you on or join you in living a healthier lifestyle. Lack of social support can keep people from making positive changes.

On the other hand, some social factors can result in better self-care. Support from friends and family can have very positive effects. Many studies show that support from friends and family helps people with diabetes avoid some complications like depression, and can help them stay healthier. There are many other potential sources of support, including your doctor and health care team, your religious leader and other people in your community.

Managing Your Child's Diabetes at School
When your child has diabetes, it is important to work with your child's school for successful diabetes care. You may work with the school nurse, principal, teachers and coaches. School staff may be unfamiliar with diabetes. Teachers and administration may need  training and coordination with you and your child's healthcare team. You can also refer them to our center or the local chapter of the the American Diabetes Association for more information.

The rights of your child with diabetes at school are based on Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). These laws provide federal protection against discrimination for your child with disabilities or medical conditions in any program or activity that receives federal assistance, such as public schools. Your medical team will provide school orders that are part of your child's diabetes care plan. The plan will vary depending on your child's needs and the situation.

A 504 Plan includes your child's medical treatment plan. The Individualized Education Plan (IEP) lists what the school will do to carry out the treatment plan. For example, the 504 Plan might say that the child can test their blood glucose level, and the IEP will say that they can test in class or be able to leave the class.

Another valuable resource for parents is the Safe at School Campaign, sponsored by the American Diabetes Association. For more information


Books For Parents

Growing up with Diabetes: What Children Want their Parents to Know by Alicia McAuliffe

Written by a woman who was diagnosed with diabetes as a child, this book encourages the importance of diabetes education and making your child's life as normal as possible.

The Ten Keys to Helping Your Child Grow up with Diabetes by Tim Wysocki

A practical book for parents and caregivers of children with diabetes that addresses the psychological, social and emotional hurdles and offers solutions for families.