Leaving your parents’ house to go to college makes you responsible for managing every aspect of your type 1 diabetes (T1D), possibly for the first time. According to JDRF’s Barbara Weisman, who is getting ready to send her own daughter with T1D to college next year, it’s never too early to start planning to your move. “T1D is always a factor in anything you do,” she says. “It creeps into everything. You wonder if the school is accessible in case of emergency, can you get help if you need it, will you be able to get what you need at the dining hall? The question is: how will you and your parents make this work?”
Here are some suggestions JDRF’s New England Chapter has compiled that can help ease the transition.
Talk to Your Parents:
They’ve been handling the logistics of managing your T1D since your diagnosis. Talk to them about who will be responsible for which non-medical aspects of your management, including:
· Ordering, scheduling and paying for refills of diabetes supplies
· Insurance issues
· Making and keeping appointments with your health care providers
· Filling and paying for prescriptions
Have an honest discussion about common college behaviors that might affect your diabetes management, like drinking and all-nighters, and commit to realistic plans to deal with them.
Make sure you have the information you need to manage your diabetes care, including contact numbers for your doctor, insurance company, pharmacist, and your diabetes equipment manufacturers.
Relinquishing control over day-to-day diabetes management is tough for many parents. Talk frankly about your willingness and ability to assume that responsibility, and how much information you will share with them, including whether you will sign a form giving them access to your health and treatment information. “The best thing I can do for my kids is to give them the information they need to make good decisions and know and accept that I cannot dictate what they will do with their bodies,” says Weisman. She tells her children that evidence of responsible behavior is the key to their independence. “I tell them ‘it will allow me to back off, and give me enough peace of mind to get me out of your hair.’”
Talk to Your School:
Most schools will go out of their way to work with you to ensure the best college experience possible. While they are not legally responsible for your health and welfare, they are obligated to make accommodations for your T1D provided you reach out to them first.
Introduce yourself to your new healthcare provider, at school or in private practice, and make sure they have access to your medical records so they are up to date on your care plan and medical history.
Contact your school’s Office of Disability Services to make sure you receive reasonable accommodations to deal with your T1D, including test rescheduling, unpenalized absences for sick days or medical appointments, and permission to bring food or drinks into classrooms.
Let your professors know about your T1D if you think it may affect the way you handle your workload.
Talk to someone in Food Services to get needed nutritional information.
Talk to Your Roommate and Residence Advisor:
They will need to know about T1D, how it affects you and how you are managing it. It is especially important that they know what to do for you in case of an emergency.
Share emergency contacts with them so they can call your family if needed.
Make sure your room has a refrigerator to store your insulin and a secure space to store all of the supplies related to your diabetes care.
Emphasize that your emergency sugar stash is NOT for anybody else’s snacking.
Like anything else in the life of a person with T1D, creating a successful college experience for yourself require a little more planning than it does for people without the disease. JDRF can help through our TypeOneNation.org community. Also check out advice from the College Diabetes Network and Students with Diabetes.