Ann Louise White
EDU214: Introduction to Special Ed
Spring 2015

Diabetes is a condition where the pancreas is not able to produce insulin. Insulin is a hormone needed to convert sugar and starches from food into energy for daily life. Without insulin, sugar cannot reach the body's cells. Sugar levels then become too high in the blood. There are two main types of diabetes: type 1 and type 2.

Type 1 Diabetes is also known as Juvenile Diabetes, as it is most common in children. If a person has type 1, their body is completely unable to produce necessary insulin. This condition occurs when the body's immune system attacks the insulin-producing beta cells in the pancreas and destroys them. The pancreas then produces little or no insulin. However, with proper diet, exercise, and insulin injections, those affected can lead a normal life.

Type 2 Diabetes is an adult-onset condition characterized by high blood glucose levels caused by either a lack of insulin or the body's inability to use the produced insulin efficiently. If those affected eat healthy, are physically active, and test their blood glucose regularly- as well as take oral medications and/or insulin to control blood glucose levels as necessary- they can also lead a normal life.


  • In 2012, 29.1 million Americans, which is approximately 9.3% of the total population, had diabetes.
  • In 2010, 25.8 million Americans had diabetes, which was about 8.3% of the population.
  • About 208,000 Americans under age 20 are estimated to have diagnosed diabetes, approximately 0.25% of that population.
  • In 2008—2009, the annual incidence of diagnosed diabetes in youth was estimated at 18,436 with type 1 diabetes and 5,089 with type 2 diabetes.


Common symptoms of diabetes include:

  1. Frequent urination
  2. Excessive thirst and/or hunger
  3. Extreme fatigue
  4. Blurred vision
  5. Inability to heal quickly - both cuts and bruises
  6. Type 1: weight loss regardless of diet habits
  7. Type 2: tingling, pain, or numbness in hands


Testing blood glucose levels is a necessary way to monitor and effectively control diabetes. It is helpful for those affected to keep a blood glucose log to share with their doctor(s).

It is also necessary to check the urine for ketones regularly. Ketones are chemicals that are produced when there is a shortage of insulin in the blood, so the body breaks down fat for energy instead of using glucose. Ketones are most common in type 1 Diabetes.

People with type 1 diabetes must use insulin to manage their diabetes. Some people with type 2 diabetes can effectively manage their diabetes with healthy eating and exercise. However, your doctor may need to also prescribe oral medications (pills) and/or insulin to help regulate levels.

Teaching Strategies

  • Educate yourself on this condition. Know how to check blood glucose levels.
  • Remember that every child is different and has different symptoms.
  • Any change in routine can affect a student's blood sugar levels.
  • Never restrict snacking or bathroom breaks.
  • Be discrete and give general reminders about snacking, or use a buddy system.
  • Always be prepared. Carry a quick snack or a small can of juice when you do not have access to a cafeteria or the student's personal lunch.
  • Communicate with all involved: parents, staff, and classmates.

Family and Community Resources

American Diabetes Association - Maryland Office:
2002 Clipper Park Road
Suite 110
Baltimore, MD 21211

Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation
Greater Chesapeake and Potomac Chapter - Maryland Office
825 Hammonds Ferry Road, Suite H
Linthicum, MD 21090

Johns Hopkins Diabetes Center at Greenspring Station
2360 W. Joppa Road
Suite 212
Lutherville, MD 21093


American Diabetes Association (2015). Retrieved from


Children's Diabetes Foundation (2012). Retrieved from

Mayo Clinic (2015), Diabetes. Retrieved from


Winnick, J. B., & Woika, S. A. (2014, May). Diabetes in school-age children: assessment
           and eligibility issues. Communique, 42(7), 1+. Retrieved from

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