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Talking to Your Teen About Multiple Sclerosis

What teens already know, what they want to know and how you can help.

What most teens already know

  • Multiple Sclerosis is a disease of the nervous system
  • The cause of Multiple Sclerosis is unknown
  • Multiple Sclerosis is not fatal
  • Multiple Sclerosis is not contagious
  • Not everyone who has Multiple Sclerosis will eventually have to use a wheelchair
  • There is no cure for Multiple Sclerosis
  • There are drugs available that can help control Multiple Sclerosis
  • Common Multiple Sclerosis symptoms

What many teens would like to know

Is Multiple Sclerosis hereditary?

No. Multiple Sclerosis is not passed directly from parents to children, although it is possible for more than one family member to have MS.

Does everyone’s Multiple Sclerosis get worse?

No. Everyone’s experience with Multiple Sclerosis is different. A person’s MS can get better, worse, or stay the same.

Why is there no cure?

The cause of Multiple Sclerosis is still not known. Scientists need to first discover the cause and then they can work on developing a cure.

What many teens want

  • Someone to talk to about their parent’s Multiple Sclerosis
  • Parents to share how they are feeling, both physically and emotionally
  • Open and honest discussions
  • To be included in family decisions

Emotions your teen may feel:

  • anger
  • fear
  • embarrassment
  • guilt
  • sadness
  • resentment
  • depression
  • helplessness

What you can do to help

Talk to your teen. Do not be afraid to start the conversation. Teens appreciate it when you open the door.

Keep the door open. Teens are not always ready to talk. Let your teen know that you will be available if he or she has something to discuss.

Allow your teen to feel whatever emotion he or she is experiencing. Help your teen to manage his or her emotions. Do not try to change what he or she is feeling.

Remember that you are not alone. You do not have to be the only person your teen talks to about your Multiple Sclerosis. Developing a trusting relationship with a friend or family member can be both helpful and healthy for teens.

© Copyright 1995-2009 The Cleveland Clinic Foundation. All rights reserved.

This information is provided by the Cleveland Clinic and is not intended to replace the medical advice of your doctor or health care provider. Please consult your health care provider for advice about a specific medical condition. This document was last reviewed on: 10/3/2008…#13973

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