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Parenting a Child Who Has MS

By Daryl H. Bryant (434 words)
Posted in Living with MS on December 1, 2017

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Parenting a Child Who Has MS

MS affects almost 2.3 million people in the world, but because the disease is usually diagnosed between the ages of 20 and 50, parenting a child who has MS can feel pretty lonely. You’re not alone though. Read on to learn more about parenting a child who has MS.

Pediatric Multiple Sclerosis - Childhood MS

There are 8,000 to 10,000 children and teens with MS in the United States, and those are just the kids who are diagnosed. Diagnosing MS is tricky business, and doctors estimate that 2-5% of all people diagnosed with MS some time in their life experienced symptoms in childhood. Multiple Sclerosis is named for the scars caused by immune attacks on the central nervous system. The cause of these immune attacks is unknown, but they slow down nerve impulses which causes MS symptoms. MS will affect your child’s life, but it is not a death sentence. Most people with MS are able to find treatments that help their symptoms. Your child can continue to live a fulfilling life long after diagnosis. Helping your child learn to manage his or her disease with good health habits will decrease symptoms.

Symptoms Unique to Children with MS

Where the scarring is located and its severity is what determines the type and severity of symptoms your child will experience. That’s why MS varies from person to person. Some children with MS experience seizures and extreme fatigue. When parenting a child who has MS, it is important to watch energy levels. Be careful not to overschedule, and build in plenty of time for naps on bad days. Fatigue, memory issues, and other symptoms may cause your child to struggle with self esteem issues. Particularly when parenting teenagers with MS, keep an eye out for depression.

Working with Schools

You and your child should decide the appropriate people to tell when it comes to family and friends. However, if symptoms are affecting your child’s performance at school, you will need to talk to school officials to let them know how they can help. The school is legally obligated to provide your child with reasonable accommodations. Some options include extra time on tests, a guaranteed parking spot close to the entrance, first floor classes, or special permission to wear a jacket inside. Whatever your child needs to excel, don’t be afraid to ask for it.

Need more resources for parenting a child with MS? Here’s a short article about being a better parent to a child with MS, and here’s an excellent parent handbook for parents of children with MS.

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