Diabetes is a illness many people have heard of and think they understand, yet many diabetic learners go unrecognised and unnoticed. The research question of the study was to determine the developmental and learning needs and the assets of the learner with type I diabetes in the foundation phase. The study had the following aims concerning learners with type I diabetes in the foundation phase: • To identify the developmental and learning needs and the assets of these learners • To provide knowledge about and understanding of these learners • To rally friends, family, the school, teachers and the community to become external and internal asset builders in the development of these learners. The ecological perspective was viewed as an appropriate framework for conceptualising this study. The needs and asset-based approach was included in the theoretical framework to gain a holistic view of these learners. This was a qualitative ethnographic study using case studies. The research was based on the interpretative paradigm. After an in-depth literature survey, data were collected in four phases in questionnaires, followed by semi-structured interviews held with a non-random sample of three learners with type I diabetes drawn from different cultures, their parents and teachers. The semi-structured interviews were recorded and transcribed and the data coded and analysed inductively. A narrative approach was used for interpreting the data. The relationship between the participants and their ecology was investigated to determine the factors in the learners’ environment. The learners’ developmental and learning needs and the assets inherent in each unique participant were identified.