Originally posted here by Dr. Sarah Lyons, diabetes and endocrinology expert at Texas Children’s Hospital

This blog is co-authored by: Sarah Lyons, MD; Marisa Hilliard, PhD; Massimo Pietropaolo, MD and Jake Kushner, MD.

Doctor or nutritionist with a diabetic patient explaining glycemic index

Young adulthood is an exciting, but sometimes challenging time, for youth with diabetes. As the move from pediatric to adult health care is so important, we pediatric and adult diabetes care providers at Texas Children’s and Baylor Clinic want the experience to be positive and smooth for every teen/young adult with diabetes. We recommend that the where, when, how and why to move to adult care be discussed and planned in advance with your pediatric diabetes team. We have divided the transition process into three steps:

Readiness

Starting in the early teen years, talk with your pediatric diabetes provider about your teen’s individual needs and preferences. Together, identify what self-care skills are necessary for adult care and set goals to help your teen learn those skills. Slowly allow your teen to practice diabetes self-care skills while you are still involved and able to provide back up as needed. In the older teen years, we also recommend your teen have time alone to talk with his/her diabetes provider, without parents in the room.

Planning

To find an adult provider who is a good match for your young adult, talk with your pediatric diabetes care team. We suggest your young adult try to meet with the adult provider in person before leaving pediatric care. Young adults tell us that some of the most important characteristics of a great adult diabetes care provider include:

  • Sensing genuine support, empathy and understanding of their experience living with diabetes by the adult provider
  • Feeling understood – and not judged – about the challenges of achieving target blood sugar levels
  • Receiving educational information that is personalized, helpful and directly relevant to their lives

Transfer of care

When your young adult has selected an adult provider and scheduled an appointment, your pediatric provider will help in sending the necessary medical records to the adult provider. We recommend you schedule an appointment within three months of the last visit with your pediatric provider to avoid major gaps in care.

We are excited to announce the diabetes transition navigator program at Texas Children’s main campus. Our new transition navigator, Kierra Lee, will be working with our diabetes providers, educators and social workers to help teens and their families prepare for the transition to adult care. This new program is just starting to grow, and Kierra will be contacting our teen diabetes patients to see if they would like to participate.

In addition, Drs. Sarah Lyons and Daniel DeSalvo started a Diabetes Transition Clinic for teens 16 years and older. The clinic focuses on intensive diabetes management and preparation for adulthood. If you are interested in the Diabetes Transition Clinic, please talk to your diabetes provider at your next appointment.

Our diabetes care providers want the best for your young adult and are here to partner with you through this important transition.   

You can find additional information at:

About the author: Dr. Sarah Lyons, diabetes and endocrinology

My clinical and research interests focus on understanding and improving the transition from pediatric to adult health care for adolescents and emerging adults with diabetes and endocrine conditions. My residency training was in Internal Medicine-Pediatrics at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, and my fellowship training was a combined pediatric and adult endocrinology fellowship at University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. I joined the Pediatric Diabetes and Endocrinology Section at Texas Children’s Hospital/Baylor College of Medicine in 2014.