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From Boston, Massachusetts, USA:

I am an 18 year old female with type 1 diabetes diagnosed at the age of five, and even with a mother who also had type 1, I have struggled to get good control. My mother has passed away and the challenge has increased.

I have always had difficulty with school attendance. My public high school has given me an ultimatum to change my attendance record or leave school. I understand their view. I just seem unable to be consistent enough with good health to make it to school on a regular basis. Can you recommend a facility (boarding school, clinic, hospital) where I could live and go to school and be guided in getting better control of my diabetes and my life?


It seems as though rather than a boarding school, you might need a good counselor on the diabetes team to sort through all of the issues that you have, even above and beyond your diabetes health issues. You have a very full plate, and I would suggest seeing your diabetes team and getting help in dealing with these problems. I think that by writing this, you are showing you do want to do the best for yourself and your health, so please do seek some help.


Additional comments from Craig Broadhurst:

I only know of Cumberland in the state of Virginia.


Additional comments from Dr. Stuart Brink:

Your degree of difficulty is very unusual. You should talk to your diabetes team very directly and perhaps also talk to the psychologist or social worker who works with them since they would know you the best -- and give you the best advice. If you are unhappy with their recommendations, then there are many alternatives in the Boston area where excellent diabetes care is available and consultation can be obtained quite easily.


Additional comments from David S. Holtzman, Esq.:

I want you to know that I think you are looking at this the wrong way. Instead of forcing you to leave your community to find an alternative private education, your school administration and the local school council must provide you with a public education until the age of 22. They cannot expel or discipline you because of too many absences due to illness.

There are State and Federal laws that require local school boards to make accommodations to assist you in completing your education. An example would be assigning tutors to visit your home when you are ill, or rescheduling required tests and examinations to days which you are healthy.

There are people who are willing to help you protect your rights. Please contact the Program Quality Assurance section of the Massachusetts Department of Education. They can be reached at (781)338-3700. Tell them where you live and ask to speak with the liaison who handles your area. I think that you will find people there who will stand up for you and your right to an education.


[Editor's comment: We recieved this comment from Laura Billetdeaux:

If you are attending public school, you need a 504 plan (See The Law, Schools, and Your Child with Diabetes.) in place to protect your rights. The 504 should clearly state that you will not be penalized for school missed because of her diabetes.

It is your right to attend school, and public schools by law must accommodate your needs. Having some flexibility with assignments (i.e., being able to have extra time to complete them if blood sugars are high or low, or if ill) and having clear blood sugar guidelines for taking tests are also important.

As a mother, my first thought when I read this was, "Who takes care of you and who do you live with?" Whoever that person is needs to represent you with the school's administration to put the 504 in place. You also need to find a good diabetes health care team and discuss both the health problems and the school issues. The 504 is much easier to have in place with the health care team standing behind it.


Original posting 12 Nov 2001
Posted to School and Daycare


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Last Updated: Tuesday April 06, 2010 15:09:28
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