The diagnosis of a chronic illness such as multiple sclerosis (MS) has the capability to challenge a family on multiple levels. As if the diagnosis of a disease such as MS was easy to explain and discuss with adult friends and family members. Explaining the diverse symptoms of MS to a young child is a new challenge all in itself.
Deciding when to have a conversation with your children regarding the MS diagnosis is a personal decision that every family should discuss. Children are by nature, curious individuals. They may pick up that things have changed, or that Mommy or Daddy is acting differently. Depending on the child, some families may choose to introduce information about the disease early on.
MSAA has published two books to help guide families through this conversation with young children. Mommy’s Story and Daddy’s Story are geared for children age’s three to seven, to provide a starting point for future conversations regarding an MS diagnosis.
For on-going supportive information for children, the National MS Society also publishes a newsletter, Keep S’myelin to provide stories and activities regarding different challenges a parent may face with relation to MS.
If a child appears to have a difficult time with the adjustment to a new diagnosis in a parent, it may be helpful to seek additional professional support. A child therapist can help the child to express some of the fears or concerns that they are having. Different modalities such as art or music therapy can help young children who may not verbally be able to explain how they are feeling.
Do you have young children, and have you spoken with them regarding an MS diagnosis? What resources were helpful to you during this time?