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Talking to Your Family About Multiple Sclerosis

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Children's Reactions to Multiple Sclerosis

All of the following emotions are normal reactions to a parent's diagnosis of multiple sclerosis:

  • Anger
  • Fear
  • Embarrassment
  • Guilt
  • Sadness
  • Resentment
  • Depression
  • Helplessness

These emotions may lead to changes in your child's behavior. Here are some signs to watch for:

  • Increased concern with their own body and wellness
  • Difficulty maintaining close friendships
  • Higher anxiety and stress
  • False maturity ("growing up too quickly")
  • Behaving badly in public
  • Lying to friends about the parent's illness
  • Regressive behavior (acting younger)
  • Temper tantrums
  • Waiting until parents are tired at the end of day to ask for things (such as help with homework)
  • Poor performance in school
  • Nightmares, bed-wetting, and trouble falling asleep.

Beyond these behaviors, which in moderation are considered normal, your child may have additional difficulty coping with your illness. In some cases, you may want to seek professional help. Some warning signs of unhealthy behavior are:

  • Depression
  • Severe or chronic behavior problems
  • Problems with sleeping and nightmares consistently for over a month
  • Loss of appetite or sudden increase of appetite
  • Loss of interest in schoolwork and extracurricular activities
  • Persistent mood swings and changes in personality

Common Questions Children Have About Multiple Sclerosis

1. If you have multiple sclerosis, does that mean I'll get it?
Unlikely. MS is not passed directly from parents to children, although it is possible for more than one family member to have MS.

2. Will your symptoms get worse?
Everyone's experience with MS is different. A person's MS can get better, worse, or stay the same.

3. Why is there no cure?
The cause of MS is still not known. Scientists need to discover the cause first and then they can work on developing a cure.
 

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