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Disability Information - Diabetes


General Information

Education & Classroom Accommodations

Michigan Resources, Support Groups, Listservs & Websites

National Resources & Websites

Articles Related to this Disability

Medical Information

Books & Videos


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 General Information

What Is Diabetes?
Diabetes (medically known as diabetes mellitus) is the name given to disorders in which the body has trouble regulating its blood glucose, or blood sugar, levels. There are three types of diabetes: type 1, type 2, and gestational diabetes. Type 1, also called juvenile diabetes or insulin-dependent diabetes, is a disorder of the body's immune system—that is, its system for protecting itself from viruses, bacteria or any "foreign" substances.  Type 1 diabetes occurs when the body's immune system attacks and destroys certain cells in the pancreas, an organ about the size of a hand that is located behind the lower part of the stomach. These cells—called beta cells—are contained, along with other types of cells, within small islands of endocrine cells called the pancreatic islets. Beta cells normally produce insulin, a hormone that helps the body move the glucose contained in food into cells throughout the body, which use it for energy. But when the beta cells are destroyed, no insulin can be produced, and the glucose stays in the blood instead, where it can cause serious damage to all the organ systems of the body.  For this reason, people with type 1 diabetes must take insulin in order to stay alive. This means undergoing multiple injections daily, or having insulin delivered through an insulin pump, and testing their blood sugar by pricking their fingers for blood six or more times a day. People with diabetes must also carefully balance their food intake and their exercise to regulate their blood sugar levels, in an attempt to avoid hypoglycemic (low blood sugar) and hyperglycemic (high blood sugar) reactions, which can be life threatening.  The warning signs of type 1 diabetes include extreme thirst; frequent urination; drowsiness or lethargy; sugar in urine; sudden vision changes; increased appetite; sudden weight loss; fruity, sweet, or wine-like odor on breath; heavy, labored breathing; stupor; and unconsciousness.  Generally, type 1 diabetes is diagnosed in children, teenagers, or young adults. Scientists do not yet know exactly what causes type 1 diabetes, but they believe that autoimmune, genetic, and environmental factors are involved.

What are diabetes complications?
While insulin allows a person with type 1 diabetes to stay alive, it does not cure the disease, nor does it prevent the development of serious complications, which can be many and varied. High blood sugar levels eventually damage blood vessels, nerves, and organ systems in the body.

Diabetes: Preventing Diabetic Complications
American Academy of Family Physicians
Diabetic complications are health problems caused by diabetes. Diabetes causes your blood sugar level to be higher than normal. Over time, high blood sugar levels can damage the blood vessels and nerves in your body. This damage can cause problems in many areas of the body. The main areas where there may be problems are the nerves and blood vessels in the eyes, kidneys, legs and feet. This handout will tell you about some of the complications and how to help prevent them.

Diabetes Myths and Facts
Many "myths" exist among the general public about type 1 diabetes. Along with the confusion that exists about the difference between types 1 and 2, there are many misunderstandings and misperceptions, as well as a general underestimation of the seriousness of the disease.

Why We Need A Cure
Every hour of every day, someone is diagnosed with juvenile (type 1) diabetes, the most severe form of a disease that annually accounts for almost $100 billion in health care costs in the U.S. alone. Usually striking before the age of 30, juvenile diabetes takes a harsh toll on people. Not only will they be insulin-dependent for life, but devastating life-limiting and life-shortening complications such as blindness, amputation, heart disease and stroke, and kidney failure are an ever-present threat. Insulin is not a cure for the disease—it is merely life support.

Diabetes Overview
National Diabetes Information Clearinghouse
Almost everyone knows someone who has diabetes. An estimated 17 million people--6.2 percent of the population--in the United States have diabetes mellitus--a serious, lifelong condition. About 5.9 million people have not yet been diagnosed. Each year, about 1 million people age 20 or older are diagnosed with diabetes.

Diabetes Dictionary Index
National Diabetes Information Clearinghouse
This dictionary defines words that are often used when people talk or write about diabetes. It is designed for people who have diabetes and for their families and friends.

Take Charge of Your Diabetes: Glossary
National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion

A Child with Diabetes Is In Your Care
This information is for people who may from time to time be responsible for a child with diabetes. It is designed to provide basic information about Type 1 (insulin-dependent or juvenile) diabetes so that you can feel comfortable with the child.

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 Education & Classroom Accommodations

School Bill of Rights for Children with Diabetes
Children with diabetes require medical care to remain healthy. The need for medical care does not end while the child is at school.

The Law, Schools, and Your Child with Diabetes
The right of children with diabetes to care for their diabetes at school is based on the Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, the Americans with Disabilities Act, and the Individuals with Disability Education Act (IDEA). These laws provide protection against discrimination for children with disabilities, including diabetes, in any program or activity receiving federal financial assistance. This includes all public schools and day care centers and those private schools and centers that receive federal funds.

Information for Teachers
Teachers and child-care providers are likely to have a child with Type 1 diabetes in their care at some point in their career. This page provides basic information about diabetes, offer suggestions for how to care for children with diabetes, and refers you to other sources of information.

Diabetes Management at School
This guide provides an outline for school districts to use in designing a diabetes management program. The specific roles and actions that various staff need to perform are identified and supporting materials are included. Each page can be displayed in a format that is easy to print so you can use this as your diabetes management plan.

Sample 504 and IEP Plans
These sample 504 plans and IEPs are arranged by grade. Each is stored in Microsoft Word 2000 format. You are free to use these for your child or children. Click on the link to display or download the Word document.

Before School Starts
Each school reacts differently to children that need a little extra attention. And children with diabetes do need a little extra attention, especially when they are very young. If you are approaching your first school year with diabetes, here's a list of things you should do before school starts.

One-page Instruction Sheet for Teachers
When you send your child to school, you should include some kind of instructions for the teacher that describe what you expect of the teacher. The instructions should include a list of symptoms that your child exhibits when he or she is hypoglycemic, when you expect the child to perform blood glucose tests, and how to respond to episodes of hypoglycemia.

Information on Diabetes for Classmates
We know that diabetes is caused by someone's body losing its ability to make insulin. Children with diabetes need to take shots of insulin each day to let their bodies use the blood sugar (glucose) that feeds each cell and gives us energy to move and think. Our bodies make glucose from the food we eat.

Schools Database
You can use the Schools Database to see if your elementary or high school allows blood testing in the classroom and whether there is a full time school nurse. If your school is not shown, send an e-mail to with the school name, address, and NCES ID. The NCES ID is a four or five digit number unique to each public school in the United States.

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 Michigan Resources, Support Groups, Listservs & Websites

Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation Metro Detroit & SE Michigan Chapter
24359 Northwestern Highway, #225
Southfield, MI 48075

MW-Region Walk Office
4678 Lilly Court
West Bloomfield, MI 48323
(248) 669-2212
(248) 669-2334 fax

Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation West Michigan Chapter
5075 Cascade Road SE, Suite F
Grand Rapids, MI 49546

University of Michigan DRTC
Martha Funnell, M.S., R.N., C.D.E.
Michigan Diabetes Research and Training Center
1331 E. Am, Room 5111, Box 0580
University of Michigan Medical School
Ann Arbor, MI 48109-0580
Phone: (734) 763-5730
Fax: (734) 647-2307

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 National Resources & Websites

American Diabetes Association (ADA)
The American Diabetes Association is the nation's leading nonprofit health organization providing diabetes research, information and advocacy. Founded in 1940, the American Diabetes Association conducts programs in all 50 states and the District of Columbia, reaching more than 800 communities.

American Dietetic Association (ADA)

Diabetes Exercise and Sports Association (DESA)
Diabetes Exercise & Sports Association (DESA) exists to enhance the quality of life for people with diabetes through exercise and physical fitness.

Children with Diabetes 

Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation International (JDRF)
The mission of JDRF is to find a cure for diabetes and its complications through the support of research. Type 1 diabetes is a disease which strikes children suddenly and requires multiple injections of insulin daily or a continuous infusion of insulin through a pump just to survive. Insulin, however, is not a cure for diabetes, nor does it prevent its eventual and devastating complications which may include kidney failure, blindness, heart disease, stroke, and amputation.

The National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK)
The National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK) is the Government's lead agency for diabetes research. The NIDDK operates three information clearinghouses of potential interest to people seeking diabetes information and funds six Diabetes Research and Training Centers and eight Diabetes Endocrinology Research Centers.

National Kidney and Urologic Diseases Information Clearinghouse (NKUDIC)
Mission: To provide information about kidney and urologic diseases to the public, patients and their families, and health care professionals. NKUDIC also works with related organizations to educate people about kidney and urologic diseases, answers inquiries, and develops and distributes publications. NKUDIC is a service of the NIDDK.

Weight-control Information Network (WIN)
Individual centers produce a variety of diabetes education materials. For information about publications and programs, contact the individual centers found on their website.

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 Articles Related to this Disability


CA Parents Sue Schools, Seek Help For Diabetic Students - Three Danville parents, another from Fremont and the American Diabetes Association filed a lawsuit Tuesday to require California public schools to assist in insulin injections and provide other help for diabetic students.


Study: Diabetic Teens Show Premature Arterial Stiffening - A new study has found that adolescents with Type 2 diabetes have arteries as stiff as those of middle-aged men.


MI Group Wants Broader Diabetes Testing in Schools - With more than 13,000 young people being diagnosed each year with Type 1 diabetes, the American Diabetes Association has launched a campaign that calls for the training of non-medical personnel to assist students with diabetes in the absence of a school medical staffer.


Promise of a cure for diabetes: Mom makes deal with teen daughter

Read the article "Fight Stress and Fight Diabetes"


Read the Jacksonville Times-Union article "More children suffer 'adult' diabetes" - Experts cite rise in obesity among young.


Read the San Francisco Chronicle's article "Summit to rouse schools about child obesity" - Emphasis will be on teaching good habits.


FDA Approves Glucowatch Device for Children with Diabetes
Food and Drug Administration
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved a wrist-watch-like glucose monitoring device for use by children and adolescents with diabetes. The device, which was approved for adult use in March 2001, provides information that can be used to detect trends and track patterns in glucose levels.

Young Adults with Insulin-Treated Diabetes Have Elevated Stroke Risk
American Heart Association
People with insulin-dependent (type-1) diabetes have an increased risk of dying from a stroke, according to first-time findings from a large, community-based study reported in today’s rapid access issue of Stroke: Journal of the American Heart Association.

Earlier Detection of Diabetic Nephropathy
JDRF-funded researchers in Minnesota and Italy have found that a common laboratory test gives some patients with type 1 (juvenile) diabetes earlier warning that they are developing diabetic nephropathy, or kidney disease.

What is islet transplantation?
The only way to cure diabetes for people who already have the disease is to replace the destroyed beta cells or replace their function. Whole-pancreas transplants have been successful for many years, restoring insulin production in people with advanced diabetes, but because of significant risks the procedure has been limited primarily to recipients who are also undergoing kidney transplantation.

Genetically Modified Stem Cells Prevent Diabetes in Mice
Scientists at a JDRF research center in Australia have prevented type 1 (juvenile) diabetes in mice by genetically modifying the animals’ stem cells so they signal the immune system not to attack the insulin-secreting beta cells.
A Bitter Pill -- A School's Drug Policy Sours One Teenager's Experience with Glucose Tablets
by Melissa Sattley
Thirteen-year-old Eric Carr didn't think much of it when two classmates saw him taking a glucose tablet and asked to try one. Insulin-dependent since the age of nine, Eric figured glucose was harmless, something that simply kept his sugars from dropping. Little did he realize that sharing the tablets would lead to a week-long suspension from Hollenbeck Middle School in St. Peters, Missouri and a permanent blemish on his school records.

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 Medical Information


MI Bay City Doctor Uses Maggots to Help Save Foot of Diabetes Patient - Barbara Enser wasn't very comfortable at first with the idea of using maggots to clean the wound on her right foot. But if it meant saving it from amputation, she was willing to give it a try.


Health Journals for Parents of Kids with Special Needs - "When my daughter was diagnosed, I created a health journal to help organize all of her medical information. Soon, the clinic asked me to make 40 more for the other parents." The Little Acorn now offers many versions of this book which have been customized to fit specific disabilities. Visit the website for more details or to order. Available items (New products added often - see website for current offerings): "Juggling Autism" Starter Kit, "Juggling Cystic Fibrosis” Starter Kit, "Juggling Down Syndrome” Starter Kit, "Juggling Cerebral Palsy" Starter Kit, "Juggling Asthma" Starter Kit, "Juggling Diabetes" Starter Kit, "Healthy Kids” Starter Kit, "A Woman's Health Journal", and "The Courage Book”

Diabetes Dictionary - Online Diabetes dictionary derived from the original one produced by the United States National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Disease. Also has links to related sites.

Diabetes Monitor For Kids - Kids with diabetes now have a painless way to keep track of their blood sugar. The Food and Drug Administration has approved the GlucoWatch device -- a monitor worn on the wrist that uses tiny electric currents to check blood sugar -- for use by children aged seven to 17, The Associated Press reports. GlucoWatch was approved for adults last year, the AP says. While it doesn't replace finger-stick blood tests, the device allows for more frequent monitoring, and may help catch dangerous blood sugar drops more quickly, especially when complications occur during sleep.


Serum Creatinine Test: Monitoring kidney function
Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research
Among the complications diabetes can cause is damage to the small blood vessels in your body. Your kidneys contain a wealth of these vessels and so are highly vulnerable to such damage.
Paths to a Cure
In 1997, JDRF established three research cure goal areas that are still in place: restoring normal blood sugar levels, preventing and reversing complications, and preventing juvenile (type 1) diabetes. JDRF-funded researchers are making encouraging progress in all three areas.
Alternative Therapies for Diabetes
National Diabetes Information Clearinghouse
Alternative therapies are treatments that are neither widely taught in medical schools nor widely practiced in hospitals. Alternative treatments that have been studied to manage diabetes include acupuncture, biofeedback, guided imagery, and vitamin and mineral supplementation. The success of some alternative treatments can be hard to measure. Many alternative treatments remain either untested or unproven through traditional scientific studies.

Genes and Disease: Juvenile Onset Diabetes
National Center for Biotechnology Information
Diabetes is a chronic metabolic disorder that adversely affects the body's ability to manufacture and use insulin, a hormone necessary for the conversion of food into energy.

Current Clinical Trials:
• JDRF-sponsored and co-sponsored ongoing clinical research trials relevant to juvenile (type 1) diabetes and its complications. All trials have been reviewed and approved by appropriate human subjects review boards and have been reviewed by both JDRF scientific and lay review committees. lists NIH-sponsored trials that have been scientifically reviewed through NIH mechanisms and approved by government council. Although NIH-sponsored trials may be of scientific and medical value, JDRF has not reviewed these studies and therefore cannot endorse participation in them. Diabetes Mellitus, Insulin-Dependent from the National Institutes of Health

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 Books & Videos

The Other Diabetes: Living And Eating Well With Type 2 Diabetes
Elizabeth N. Hiser

Author Elizabeth Hiser offers a consumer guide to type 2 diabetes, the more common and less well-understood form of the disease. Of the estimated 16 million cases of diabetes in the United States today, nine out of ten are the "other" diabetes, type 2, the kind related to too much rather than too little insulin. The Other Diabetes reviews how genetics, excess calories, and a sedentary lifestyle contribute to type 2 diabetes; how insulin resistance is the hallmark of the disease; how people can lose weight and keep it off; how exercise can work for anyone; and how to avoid the most lethal complication of type 2 diabetes - early death from heart disease. The Other Diabetes is also a comprehensive nutrition handbook.

Sugar Was My Best Food: Diabetes and Me
Carol Antoinette Peacock, Mary Jones (Illustrator), Kyle Carney Gregory

An eleven-year-old boy describes how he learned that he had diabetes, the effect of this disease on his life, and how he learned to cope with the changes in his life.

Even Little Kids Get Diabetes: And Albert Whitman Prairie Book
Connie White Pirner, Nadine Bernard Westcott (Illustrator)

Even little kids get diabetes. When she was two years old, the girl in this book got really sick and skinny and had to go to the hospital. That's when she found out she had diabetes. Now she knows all about getting insulin shots every day, and testing to see if she has too much sugar or too much insulin. She knows just what to eat and when. But most of all, she knows that in spite of everything, she's just a regular kid.

Living with Juvenile Diabetes: A Practical Guide for Parents and Caregivers
Victoria Peurring

Author Victoria Peurrung, mother to two children with juvenile diabetes, provides answers and coping strategies for families everywhere that are struggling with juvenile diabetes. Living with Juvenile Diabetes offers practical tips and ideas for parents, teachers, coaches and other caregivers who deal with children with Type 1 diabetes.

Sugar Isn't Everything: A Support Book, in Fiction Form, for the Young Diabetic
Willo Davis Roberts

A detailed description of juvenile-onset diabetes (Type I) using a fictional form in which eleven-year-old Amy discovers that she has the disease, learns to treat it and to deal with her anger, and finally accepts that she CAN live with it.

Cooking Up Fun for Kids with Diabetes
Patti B. Geil, Tami A. Ross

Discusses healthy eating and nutrition for children with type 1 and type 2 diabetes and provides recipes for main dishes, snacks, and desserts. Includes "fun food facts."

Sarah and Puffle: A Story for Children about Diabetes
Linnea Mulder, Joanne H. Friar (Illustrator)

What can a talking lamb possibly have to say to a child with diabetes? Plenty. In this upbeat story, a stuffed animal comes to life in time to help a young girl, who is feeling pretty angry and sad about her condition. Puffle's funny little rhymes are chockful of valuable advice sure to comfort all children with diabetes and to further understanding by siblings and friends. Parents will particularly appreciate the clearly written introduction before sitting down to giggle—and learn—with their children.

In Control: A Guide for Teens with Diabetes
Jean Betschart, Susan Thom

Finally, a book about diabetes that you'll actually want to read! This helpful and highly readable guide explains everything you need to know to get you through the teen years. Straightforward and current, this one-of-a-kind book tackles the issues and answers the questions you may face.

Real Life Parenting of Kids with Diabetes
Virginia Nasmyth Loy

Virginia Loy has been the chief engineer behind the successful management of her two sons' diabetes for more than 12 years. Her sons, Spike and Bo Loy, have written a book to help kids growing up with diabetes, Getting a Grip on Diabetes, and now Virginia makes her own contribution to parents of children with diabetes. Virginia reveals her organized, experienced, and practical advice for helping children cope with and manage their diabetes from elementary school through college.

Everyone Likes to Eat: How Children Can Eat Most of the Foods They Enjoy and Still Take Care of Their Diabetes
Hugo J. Hollerorth, Debra Kaplan, Anna Maria Bertorelli

Here's the only guide for kids with diabetes that's packed with fun activities, new medical insights, and a lot of good food for thought.

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