Having type 1 diabetes may make you feel different from other kids your age. But, if you think about it, other kids your age who you meet in your neighborhood and at school have a lot more in common with you than you think. Diabetes doesn’t have to get in the way of making friends and getting involved in activities.
You may feel like the only kid with diabetes, but that’s simply not true. You may not know anyone else with diabetes at your school or even in your town. But that doesn’t mean they aren’t out there! In the United States, there are well over 200,000 kids (under age 20) with diabetes. So, it’s not just you. Many kids have your same diagnosis and know what you’re going through.
You may feel you want to talk to someone else with diabetes who is a similar age and understands how you feel. Ask your health care provider to put you in touch with someone your own age who has diabetes. Or you can ask your parents to help you find a support group in your area. Information on diabetes support and events in your area may also be available through the American Diabetes Association (ADA) and the JDRF.
Talk to your parents about diabetes camps. There may be one available in your area that you can go to and learn more about taking care of your diabetes while making friends. Some camps even offer financial assistance to attend based on need. To learn about diabetes camps sponsored by the ADA, click here.
Bullying and teasing
Bullying is unacceptable. Sometimes other children may treat you differently because of your diabetes. They may tease you or say things about your diabetes that aren’t true. This is probably because they don’t understand. If anyone is teasing or bullying you, talk to your parents or teachers. They will be able to help you.
Telling your friends
Having diabetes can make daily life at school a little different. You may have to test at school, and other kids can see your meter, or pump, or pen. If they ask you about it, they could just be curious. It’s up to you to decide what and how much you feel comfortable telling them. You don’t have to tell the other kids at school unless you want to and are ready to talk about it. A lot of times you may find that it’s just easier to let people know and be open rather than trying to hide it. But when you meet new people, it doesn’t have to be the first thing you share. Sometimes it may be a good idea to let people get to know you as a person before they get to know your diabetes. When you do share your story, you can help people understand more about diabetes and why you need to test and take medicine.
Telling friends about diabetes can be difficult. You may worry that it will change your friendship. But your friends will soon see that you are no different now than before you were diagnosed.
Your diabetes is a special part of your life and part of who you are. There is no need to feel embarrassed. If you are straight-forward about your diabetes and don’t make a big deal of it or treat it like a secret to be hidden, your friends will probably be cool with it too.
Your friends may not know much about diabetes, so they will probably be interested in finding out more. You may want to show them your insulin and explain to them how you feel and act when you experience low blood sugar. That way they will have a better idea of what to expect should you have a low around them.