Multiple Sclerosis: Resources for Kids
The National MS Society offers a lot of good resources to help you explain multiple sclerosis (MS) to your children. Here are a few of them:
Timmy’s Journey to Understanding MS is a fun cartoon about Timmy and his dad that helps explain MS to younger children. Call (800) FIGHT-MS (800-344-4867) to request a copy (DVD or video).
Keep S’myelin is a free newsletter for children who are 6 to 12 years old. Each issue has information about a specific MS symptom or issue, cartoons, games, and a pull-out section for parents that provides information and resources to help you talk to your kids about MS. You can subscribe by calling (800) FIGHT-MS. Or, you can find the interactive, online version of each issue.
Two brochures are available specifically for children:
“The Journey Club” is a chapter-sponsored education program for parents with MS and their children who are 5 to 12 years old. The sessions provide entertaining activities designed to help families discuss issues related to the family’s journey with MS, including symptoms, emotional issues, and changes in family life.
Chapter-sponsored children’s camps give kids who have a parent with MS the opportunity to discover a lot about MS while enjoying recreational activities.
Chapter-sponsored “Family Days” offer families the opportunity to socialize while learning about MS in lectures and workshops.
To find out about the programs your chapter has to offer, call (800) FIGHT-MS. The Multiple Sclerosis Association of America and the Multiple Sclerosis Foundation also offer excellent resources for children.
Parents are sometimes reluctant to make use of these resources with their children. They have all kinds of reasons, including busy schedules, a reluctance to make MS a focus of attention, and a worry that their children will be upset by what they read, see, or hear.
Some parents say, “Oh, we’re doing fine — we don’t need that yet.” But these resources are for everyone — even those families who are “doing fine.” Don’t wait for some kind of family crisis to get involved in these activities. It’s much easier to help your kids understand your MS as you go along than to wait for a crisis that will be much more difficult to deal with.
In addition to these MS resources, kids can benefit from participating in faith-based youth groups, scouting, and other organizations where they have opportunities to discuss their feelings with their peers and responsible adults. This experience offers children the chance to work out some of their issues in a way that is less centered on MS.