Diabetes mellitus

     The term “Diabetes mellitus” or “diabetes” refers to a range of metabolic disorders associated with a high blood glucose level over a prolonged time. There are two main types of diabetes. Type 1 diabetes is an auto-immune condition where the body no longer produces insulin, preventing blood sugar regulation. Type 2 diabetes results from insulin resistance and, over time, the development of a lack of insulin. Diabetes entails large fluctuations in blood glucose levels throughout the day, requiring the administration of an insulin shot and regular eating habits to keep the levels more stable. If the glucose levels go to either extreme (very high or very low), a person with diabetes can lose consciousness (extreme cases). 

     Too high or too low blood glucose levels result in one’s inability to concentrate and feeling of being unwell. Otherwise, the person may present symptoms such as thirst, paleness, sweatiness, and sudden shifts in mood.

     For students, having diabetes means sometimes needing to be allowed to drink or eat a snack during class to keep their blood glucose level stable. In addition, they might need to use medical devices to measure their blood sugar level or inject themselves with insulin. In these cases, the most helpful thing is the discretion of the lecturer, who, aware of the situation, avoids admonishing the student or drawing attention to them.    

In class
 (also applicable during an assignment (i.e., presentation) or an examination)

Situation
What is happening when the issue arises?

Issue
Why is the situation challenging?

Possible accommodation
How can the situation be made more accessible?

Low blood-glucose level. 

The student with diabetes becomes weak, very pale, and trembles.

Because of the student’s symptoms, it is difficult for them to follow the lecture, take notes and pay attention. This might also affect their ability to think clearly or answer questions. During this time, the student may miss out on the class’ content. 

- Allowing students to have sugar or drink juice in class. 

 

- Leaving the class for a few minutes. When the lecturer notices this, they avoid making a big deal out of it and allow the student to regroup for a few minutes.

 

- Online: switching off the camera to have a few minutes to recollect. 

To make up for the missed information:

- Use of the PowerPoint. 

 

- If agreed on with the lecturer, the student can record the class with their phone. 

 

- Online: recording the class 

High blood-glucose level. The student becomes irritable, thirsty and potentially dizzy.

Because of the student’s symptoms, it is difficult for them to follow the lecture, take notes and pay attention. This might also affect their ability to think clearly or answer questions. During this time, the student may miss out on the class’ content.

- The student needs a few minutes in order to administer a shot of insulin so that their glucose can return to the average level. They may thus need to go to the bathroom.

 

- Allowing students to drink water in the classroom. 

 

- Online: switching off the camera to have a few minutes to recollect. 

To make up for the missed information:

- Use of the PowerPoint. 

Online: recording the class

- If agreed on with the lecturer, the student can record the class with their phone. 

Loss of consciousness due to too high or too low glucose levels or too low.

In the case of too low glucose levels, the student could die (extreme situation).

Risk for the student’s health, especially if their surroundings do not know what to do. 

- Measuring blood-glucose level meanwhile an ambulance should be called.

 

- The student should carry a Glucagon shot that would need to be administered to them in case the blood-glucose level is too low. 

 

- If the glucose level is very high, then wait for an ambulance while trying to get the student to regain consciousness.

Deadlines & Assignments

Situation
What is happening when the issue arises?

Issue
Why is the situation challenging?

Possible accommodation
How can the situation be made more accessible?

The student needs to give a presentation, but their blood sugar is too low or too high. 

The student will not be able to work at the best of their ability even though they have worked and prepared their assignment. 

- Rearranging the time of the presentation (later on during the class or during another class)

 

- Extra time (informal, can be 5 minutes or more depending on the student’s need)

Examinations

Situation
What is happening when the issue arises?

Issue
Why is the situation challenging?

Possible accommodation
How can the situation be made more accessible?

The student’s blood sugar level is too high or too low.

They need to measure their blood sugar level and have sugar/insulin available. 

The student might not be able to perform at their best as they are not feeling well. 

Medical precautions can cause a loss of time. 

Restricted material allowed on the table. 

- Extra time

- Allowing the student to keep medical supplies on their desk and to use it during the exam. If necessary they can show it to the lecturer, though compassion and understanding is also helpful.