Back to School for Children with MS

Going back to school is an exciting and sometimes nerve-wracking time for any child. But for children with MS, returning to the classroom can pose some unique challenges. In this post, we will explore how children with MS and their families can navigate the back-to-school season with confidence and ensure they have a successful and fulling academic year.

Create a supportive environment:

Open Communication: Encourage open and honest communication between parents, teachers, and school staff. Engage in the discussion about the child’s MS diagnosis and any specific needs or accommodations they may require.

Individualized Education Plan (IEP): Work with the school to create an IEP tailored towards the child’s needs. This plan may include adjustments in the classroom, physical accommodations, or extra time for assignments.

Peer Education: Educate classmates about MS to promote understanding and empathy. This can help create a more inclusive and supportive environment in the classroom.

Emotional Support:

Counseling Services: Offer access to counseling services to help children cope with the emotional aspects of living with MS.

Peer support groups: Encourage participation in support groups where children can connect with others that are facing similar challenges. This can bring a sense of connection with peers and can also aid in building friendships.

Parental Support: Parents of children with MS may also need emotional support. Seek out local or online support groups for parents.

Going back to school can be a rewarding experience for children with multiple sclerosis when the right support and accommodations are in place. By fostering open communication, creating a supportive environment, and addressing the child’s needs, families and educators can help these students thrive academically, emotionally, and socially. With the right support system, children with MS can look forward to a successful school year ahead.

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Here We Go

Summer is over and the kids are all back at school. It is easy to get overwhelmed and anxious while trying to manage the school routines and dealing with the daily challenges of MS. It is best to be organized so that you have time to recover when symptoms worsen and take a toll on you during school days. Here are some ideas to make your life easier if you have school-going children:

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Pumpkin Cream Cheese Bread

YAY- It’s Fall Y’all.  This Pumpkin Cream Cheese Bread is delicious!   Enjoy with a hot cup of coffee and savor the pumpkin spice flavor.  This is sure to be a hit at Fall gatherings with friends and family.  To be honest, I love to have a slice in the quiet morning when I am the only one awake sitting on my porch with my pumpkin spice coffee. 

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Today Is the Best Day to Learn Something New

Here we go! Another school year has arrived with endless possibilities and great potential. Whether you have little ones that are starting a new school year, or you are attending school yourself, adjusting to the new schedule can be challenging. Starting a new school year can be stressful, but it can be exciting as well.

For parents and guardians of children with a diagnosis of MS, starting a new school year can be anxiety-provoking. We may have an endless list of what-if scenarios and worry about our child’s safety and well-being while away. What if the new teacher doesn’t understand my child’s needs? What if my child has an accident or does not feel well at school? And what if their symptoms get in the way of their academic progress? This worry is completely normal. Every child is unique, and children with a diagnosis of MS are no different. While some children experience mild symptoms of MS, others may experience symptoms that impact their learning. Pediatric MS may affect their cognitive functioning and their social lives as well. Neuropsychological testing may be helpful when working with the child’s school to request school accommodations such as a 504 Plan or Individual Education Plan (IEP). These plans ensure that K–12 students with disabilities receive the support they need to succeed in an academic setting. Making certain accommodations will allow your child to be a child and thrive academically. For additional information, you may visit the U.S. Department of Education website.

Going to college or university is a time full of excitement and new beginnings. MS does not have to hold you back from doing everything that college has to offer. Pace yourself, and balance work and school with rest and self-care. Stay active, eat some greens, and keep that stress in check. Allow yourself to make mistakes and learn from them. Being realistic with our expectations can certainly help us manage unattainable goals. Learn about MS symptoms and allow yourself permission to manage them without judgment. Learn about resources that may be available on your campus and advocate for accommodations you may need. All colleges and universities have disability services and/or student services that can provide guidance and support. Reasonable accommodations may be made for those students who can show documentation of their diagnosis and specific needs. Disclosing your diagnosis is your choice and responsibility to share as you see fit. For more information, you may visit the U.S. Department of Education website.

School can be memorable for all the right reasons, regardless of age. Get up, get ready, and go! Today is the best day to learn something new.

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Lifelong Learning

By Stacie Prada

When the kids return to school, traffic patterns change and I may follow the school bus on my morning commute to work.  There are fewer tourists in my town and fewer colleagues away on vacation. Stores and ad campaigns feature school supplies and products useful for students going back to school. “Back to School” season is a terrific annual reminder that learning doesn’t end after finishing school. I consider how much lifelong learning I’ve done and hope to attempt, the possibilities grow, and I’m motivated to plan more.

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Back to the Grind 

Going back to school is filled with excitement, and possibly fear. Depending on what grade or level of schooling you’re about to enter. I know the feelings of starting a new school year but have not yet experienced it from a parent’s perspective, until now. And boy, is it tough. 

As I pack up my little girl to go to her first day of daycare, I can’t help but think to myself how is she going to feel without me? Will she think I abandoned her? Will she know that I am coming back? I know every parent has a feeling of extreme guilt when dropping their child off at a place that is unknown and possibly scary to them, even if it is in their best interest. Here are a couple things I did to calm myself down, stay present, keep my thoughts organized, and most importantly STAY POSITIVE. 

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Ask the Expert – Pseudobulbar Affect (PBA)

Featuring Barry A. Hendin, MD 

Headshot of doctor Barry Hendin, chief medical officer for MSAA
Barry Hendin, MD

Question: Both pseudobulbar affect and bipolar disorder can have emotional highs and lows. Can you discuss the differences between the two conditions?  

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Fall Pumpkin Hummus

It is hard to believe that Fall is right around the corner. I am so ready for pumpkin everything!!!

This easy Fall Pumpkin Hummus only takes 10 minutes to make and is delicious!

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Emergency Preparedness – Think Local

Emergencies occur daily, and they can range from mild inconvenience to life-shattering events. There is tons of information available for being prepared for emergencies. Lists of what to include in emergency kits are thorough and excellent for helping each of us have what we need in case of emergency. Pages dedicated to people who are medically vulnerable and disabled are wonderful for listing what to consider for ourselves and those we care for.

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Preparing for an Emergency

Emergencies can occur suddenly and without warning. For individuals living with MS, or any other chronic disease, medical emergencies and natural disasters can present a real challenge. Emergencies sometimes cannot be avoided, but being prepared ahead of time can make the world of a difference.

You know your body and limitations better than anyone. Plan for your own safety as you are best able to know your functional abilities and possible needs during an emergency situation. It’s important to prepare your surrounding friends and family as well and inform them of any accommodations you may require. Create a personal support network around you that consists of people you trust within your home, school or workplace. Write down your emergency contacts and provide them with your number and address as well. They’ll be able to recognize your capabilities and needs and be able to provide immediate assistance during an emergency situation.

Create a personal checklist and evaluate what assistance and resources you need before, during and after an emergency. Here are a few things to keep in mind when preparing for an unexpected emergency – medical or natural disaster.

  • Water – have liters of water or several water bottles handy.
  • Food that won’t spoil such as canned food, energy bars and dry food. Don’t forget the can opener!
  • Battery powered flashlight and radio
  • First aid kid
  • Prescription medications
  • Copy of your emergency plan and contact information
  • Toiletries – toilet paper, hand sanitizer, utensils
  • A whistle in case you need to call for help

For individuals that have mobility challenges, they often require more detailed planning in the event of a disaster. Some individuals use power chairs or wheelchairs which can pose a challenge in the case of a power outage. It’s important to have a back-up power supply or have a manual wheelchair as an alternative. Another tool to consider is a medical alert necklace. This allows you to call for help with the press of button.

While disasters and emergencies can affect everyone, their impact on individuals with mobile and physical needs can pose a challenges. By taking a few steps and preparing ahead of time, you will be better prepared to face any unexpected emergencies.

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