As a teenager with MS, you wonder if you should tell your friends. How will they be able to understand something you hardly understand yourself? They may not want to be around you if you tell them you have a “disease”.
And if you don't tell them, they'll wonder why you sometimes stumble or why you can't play sports. Things that kids do, like going out to a movie or on a date can be even more challenging when have MS to deal with.
I know that the teenage years are not the easiest to live through even when you're healthy. (Trust me, even though it has been awhile, I've been there). Throwing the uncertainties of multiple sclerosis on top of it all, only complicates things. Especially when it comes at a time when everything seems to be turned upside down anyway.
You, as a parent, may notice your child, or teen is having trouble dealing with social issues, or having academic problems. They may find it difficult to make friends. Or they may have problems within the family.
Your child's self-image may be affected by a diagnosis of MS. Talk to your child about what they are feeling. Help them figure out ways to address each area they're having problems in.
If there are other family members with multiple sclerosis, who have learned coping strategies that may also be helpful for your child. Find and read books with your child about MS geared to your child or teens age.
You may even be able to find a support group for parents and their children with MS. One of Cir's friends on-line is a couple who's daughter has MS. They started an support group because of this.
If you still feel your child or teen is not improving, a trained professional may be the answer. After you've done as much as you can to help and the problem doesn't seem to get any better, don't be afraid to seek help.
As an older child or teen with MS, you will no doubt find yourself on-line, talking to others your age who are dealing with multiple sclerosis. The saying, "misery loves company", is all too true.
Sharing and finding out how others your age cope with MS in their everyday life, can be really helpful when dealing with your particular symptoms and challenges.
The young people you talk to more than likely can't solve your problems. But it doesn't hurt to have someone to bounce things off of once in a while. If nothing more than to have a place to go, where people can understand what you're going through.
The internet can be a source of information as well as support. But safety should be the first priority when searching the internet. Your parents can help you find appropriate internet resources.
If you're a teenager and find a chat room or message board for teens with MS, see if they encourage you to invite your parents or family members. That's always a good indicator of whether the site is for real.
As a parent of a child with MS, the internet is also a good place to find information and support. Just knowing you aren't going through this alone, is comforting in itself.
Knowing how other parents talk to their children about multiple sclerosis can help you in deciding when and how to talk to your child. Also, knowing what to expect (even though MS is different for each person), can limit the number of surprises.
Multiple sclerosis in children is hard for me to imagine. Although it is still rare, it is still a fact. I just wish the cure is so close, that multiple sclerosis in children will be ended before many more are affected.
No one, especially children, should have to live with MS. Multiple sclerosis in children of any age; toddlers to teens, just should not be.
Does your child have MS? Would you like to share your story about multiple sclerosis in children? Help others, by sharing how you and your family deal with MS on a daily basis. Enter your story in the box below.
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Cir & Akrista
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