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What is Type 1 Diabetes?

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Type 1 diabetes affects over 400,000 Canadians, or 1 in 400 school age children. This auto-immune disease strikes without warning and occurs when a person’s pancreas stops producing insulin, a hormone that enables individuals to get energy from food.  Without multiple daily injections of insulin those living with this disease would not survive.


The period just after you find out your child has type 1 diabetes is likely to be a very unsettled time for the whole family. Initially, you may be quite overwhelmed and flooded with emotions and questions. Most families are unfamiliar with type 1 diabetes and it's common for parents to feel shock, guilt, sadness and even anger. These feelings are normal and can come and go and change over time.

Keep in mind that this difficult time will pass and you will regain your feeling of balance. 


What helps most is talking through your feelings with family, friends and member of the diabetes care team. Addressing your child’s medical condition directly is the best way to move forward. You should have a team of professionals to help you with all aspects of your education; this includes Physicians, Registered Nurses, Registered Dietitians and Social workers. 


It is important to express your thoughts and feelings. Being able to talk openly in a non-judgmental atmosphere is critical for both you and your child’s adjustment process. Children often take on a parent’s anxiety and stress. It helps them when you role model healthy expressions of feelings. They need to know that they did nothing wrong.

Often children initially appear to handle the diagnosis with ease. They may even try to comfort you however this will likely change. Suddenly the child’s daily routine has been altered and in many ways, they feel forced to make changes against their will. You may notice that they start to struggle or express anger, sadness or fear. 


They may experience new emotions or behaviours throughout different developmental stages. All of this is normal and it is healthy to continue talking about these feelings, long after the initial diagnosis. It is important to reassure your child that she or he will become well and remain well. Stress and excitement are a part of life and can also impact diabetes control. Learning healthy communication and coping skills are essential components of diabetes management.


The Charles H Best Diabetes Centre recognizes the needs that these children and their families face and we strive to create programs and services that reach out to them in ways that educate, empower, enhance and inspire their lives. ​

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