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Question:

From Michigan, USA:

I am a school social worker at a middle school where I will be conducting a support group for 6th, 7th and 8th graders who are experiencing chronic health concerns. Currently, all eight members are insulin dependent diabetics. Can somebody offer me suggestions of things to include for topics? Or direct me to an adolescent support group curriculum? Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated. All are welcome to reply! Thanks!

Help wanted!

Answer:

I think it is interesting that all 8 of your students have diabetes. I'm surprised no one has asthma or seizures.

I am not personally aware of any formal adolescent chronic health curriculum, but there literature available about "peer support" programs for children with chronic illness which you could probably locate in a medical library searching medline for peer support or chronic illness in adolescents (psychological aspects).

As far as your group goes, you might first want to see if anyone has any specific concerns to discuss. If no one volunteers a subject, you could ask leading questions such as:

  1. Has having had diabetes affected their social/academic experience in school (either positively or negatively)?

  2. Do their friends know they have diabetes?

  3. Do they have trouble with getting the right food at the right time at school?

  4. Do they think any of their friends or teachers treat them differently because they have diabetes?

  5. Has diabetes interfered with sports?

  6. If they go to the nurse's office to test their blood sugar or take insulin during the day, does this interfere with their day (if they have to go to the nurse's office before lunch, they may not be able to get a "good" seat in the cafeteria)?

  7. Has diabetes helped them in any way? Hurt them in any way?

  8. What is the worst thing about diabetes?

  9. What is the "best" thing about diabetes?

  10. What are their plans for the future? Do they think diabetes will affect their plans in any way (either positively or negatively)?

If you feel it is appropriate, you can ask if diabetes affects their relationship with their parents or siblings in any way.

I think the most important thing is to keep you ears open and follow their leads. Sounds like a great project - Good luck!

TGL

Original posting 26 Sep 97

  
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Last Updated: Tuesday April 06, 2010 15:08:54
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