It is our goal to create an online community which serves the purpose of connecting families and children with juvenile diabetes to various resources and opportunities they would otherwise not be exposed to. Whether this means arranging financial assistance to send your daughter to summer camp or finding a computer tutor who will donate their time to give your son web design lessons – we are here to help you and your kids in anyway possible.
The Juvenile Diabetes Enrichment Fund is not a registered charity. We are a dedicated group of individuals who recognize the difficulties families have sorting through life and it’s many detours. Let’s face it; kids have a tough time these days, and kids with a disease have it even tougher.
Juvenile diabetes is a very serious condition. But unfortunately for many parents the symptoms of juvenile diabetes are not always “black and white” when laid out on paper. For example, frequent urination or increased appetite might appear as nothing more than your cue for the “birds and bees” discussion. On the other hand, a doctor or trained professional might view these changes in behavior as early warning signs of something much more serious.
At JDEF.org, we believe that knowledge and resources are the keys to happy children and a healthy future. Juvenile diabetes is by no means a death sentence and by encouraging a sense of community, we will empower our children to lead normal lives filled with faith, love and hope.
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What About My Children – How Will I Know?
To better help you understand the common signs of juvenile diabetes, please take a minute to imagine the following fictitious, but very possible scenario:
Over the last few months you’ve been noticing that your 11 year old son has been acting a little off-beat. For starters, when arriving from school he’s been running urgently to the bathroom to urinate; whereas normally he runs straight for the television. At dinner time, you’ve noticed that his appetite has increased and he’s been drinking 2 to 3 times more than usual – never seeming satisfied with his regular glass of apple juice. Nothing you should be too concerned about, right?
For most parents, it would be safe to assume that your son is simply growing. He is expending more energy throughout the day, which in turn is leading him to have an increased appetite, thirst and bathroom breaks. These don’t really seem like symptoms of any kind.
Well yesterday afternoon, around lunchtime, you received a call from one of your son’s teachers who expressed their concern surrounding his recent changes in behavior. You initial response was, “has he been going to the bathroom a lot?”
The facilitator paused for a brief moment, slightly confused.
“Mrs. Johnson, your son has been showing signs of difficulty keeping focused and remembering his daily exercises. This morning I asked him to come up front and write down his answer on the chalk board – which he does regularly with little hesitation. He began to write on the board and suddenly became disoriented, seeming to have forgotten the answer or what he was there to do even though the answers were in his hand. I’ve caught him on several occasions sleeping or with his head down. This is not like your son at all and I’m wondering if you know anything about this?”
Causes & Symptoms of Juvenile Diabetes
We’re sure the last thing “Mrs. Johnson” expected when visiting her doctor a month later was that she would be informed that her perfectly healthy – and once vibrant son – has juvenile diabetes. The reality of this example is that every year thousands of parents across the world are given this very same diagnosis, and an estimated 3 million children in America are currently living with juvenile diabetes.
The numbers can seem quite staggering at times.
As a parent you’re probably thinking, “How do I go about identifying juvenile diabetes in my children?” The best way to start is by familiarizing yourself with the more common physical and mental symptoms associated with this disease. Remember: Knowledge is power! Juvenile Diabetes is caused by:
- Lack of adequate and healthy production of insulin
- Reduced sensitivity of insulin caused by glucose
To elaborate a little bit more, let’s take a look at the pancreas. The pancreas is a gland that shares the same part of your body as the liver. The pancreas is full of beta cells which primary responsibility is to assist in the production of insulin. If the beta cells are disrupted or damaged in any way, the liver will stop producing enough insulin. Not enough insulin = increase risk of diabetes; plain and simple.
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Supporting a Child with Juvenile Diabetes
It is no secret that being a parent is a lifelong commitment to the happiness and overall wellbeing of your children. When disease enters a family, it can cause deep rooted emotions to surface leaving you confused, angry and even ashamed. These feelings are normal, and the last thing your child needs is to see you beating yourself down in an attempt to justify things beyond your control.
Here are some tips to help your child cope with juvenile diabetes:
- You home is not a hospital, so don’t treat your child like a patient.
- Referring to your child as “not like the other kids” is very unhealthy. They are just like the rest of the kids, except they have a few extra needs and things to be aware of.
- Their insulin can be called a “magic potion” or “tonic” until they are old enough to understand the details of their disease. The word “medicine” and “sick” should be avoided at all times.
- When it comes to measuring their blood sugar, it’s not about good or bad but rather high or low. Set objectives and make the task of blood sugar monitoring one that is goal oriented.
Children should be treated as equals, despite their special needs. If your child has been diagnosed with juvenile diabetes take this opportunity to bring your family, friends and neighbors closer together. Appreciate the things in life that you once took for granted, and show your children that life has many twists and turns, but as long as you’re together everything will be okay.
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