MS in children
Childhood MS is not always recognised, either because symptoms are mild and quickly pass, or because they are put down to other conditions that are more common in children like ADEM for example. Neurologists are starting to recognise the fact that children can get MS.
Read more about:
MS is different for everyone, including children. Find out more about MS.
Problems with memory and thinking are more common symptoms of childhood MS than problems with movement such as poor coordination and tremor. However, MS is unpredictable and it varies from person to person whether that person is an adult or a child.
Find out more about symptoms and how to manage them.
Some drug treatments commonly used for MS may not be licensed specifically for children. However, this does not mean that they won’t be useful or that they can’t be used, with careful monitoring.
Drug treatments for particular symptoms are often most effective when combined with other approaches, such as things like physiotherapy, occupational therapy, exercise, complementary therapies and healthy eating.
Having MS can disrupt schooling, but schools, colleges and universities also have a duty to make ‘reasonable adjustments’ for their students under the Equality Act 2010. Find out more on the GOV.UK website.
Many people of all ages who are affected by MS continue study or work, with adjustments to allow them to do this. In school, this could include:
- extra time for exams, if concentration becomes difficult
- more flexible attendance
- a classroom assistant to help write or take notes
- the use of a computer instead of pen and paper.
The staff at school probably don’t know much about MS - give them a copy of this factsheet so they can find out more. Talk with the school to discuss the best ways to manage things like fatigue, bullying, missing work due to absence and taking medication at school. Read more about education and MS.
MS is a condition that affects the whole family. It can affect communication, relationships, mood and daily interactions.
Learning how to live with an unpredictable condition can be hard on everyone.
All parents of children with MS will ask themselves whether they should tell their child about their diagnosis and will be keen to get it right.
Psychologists often warn that children will be aware that something is wrong, so being open and honest is usually the best way forward. Explaining things to siblings can be challenging, and dealing with ordinarily moody teens who happen to have MS as well can also be difficult.
Children with MS have told neurologists and paediatric teams that they are afraid that...
- they have cancer
- that they are dying and
- that MS is their fault,
...so it might be worth exploring these issues.
Children may also exhibit a range of emotions and behaviours such as aggression, depression and anxiety as a reaction to the diagnosis.
There are other families going through what you are going through.
- The MS Society’s online forums are great places to meet people in the same boat.
- We also run family focus days and information talks for families and children affected by MS.
- Some areas run self-management courses specifically designed to help young people and their families build self-management skills and techniques that will support them.