Endocrine Abstracts (2010) 24 S26

Living with diabetes: normal but different, different but normal

Marie Marshall


Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital, Manchester, UK.


Background: The notion of ‘normal’ is dominant in the lives of children with type 1 diabetes and their parents, because living with diabetes not only makes families different but it also makes their pursuit of ‘normal’ more visible.

Aim: To develop a theoretical understanding of how children and their parents living with type 1 diabetes construct and perceive ‘normal’, and how they integrate ‘normal’ into their daily lives.

Method: Conversational interviews were undertaken (independently) with 14 children, aged 4–17 years and their parents, from different ethnic backgrounds, and at differing lengths of time since diagnosis.

Results: The children and their parent’s everyday lives are shaped by the distinct and discrete and sometimes dissonant understandings of the concepts of ‘normal’ and ‘different’. Tensions arise because, from diagnosis onwards, children perceive themselves to be ‘normal but different’ whereas their parents perceive them to be ‘different but normal’.

Conclusion: This subtle misalignment in emphasis creates dissonance between children and parents, as their individual focus and experience of diabetes means different things to them. It is crucial that practitioners explore these individual insights as it is this dissonance that can influence the way in which children and their parents choose to live with and (self)-manage diabetes.

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