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Do children with MS have a higher risk of behavior problems?

There is limited research on behavior problems in children and teens with multiple sclerosis (MS). But we can look to other chronic disorders in children to understand how illness might affect their behavior. Young people with chronic illness face isolation from their peers. They must rely more heavily on family and healthcare providers at a time when most kids are becoming more independent. They may also be more likely to test limits with risk­taking behaviors, such as drinking, smoking and not taking their medication regularly.

In some cases, the physical effects of MS may cause behaviors that are mistaken for acting out. For example, a child with poor bladder control may need frequent visits to the bathroom at school. The teacher may mistake this as trying to get out of class, rather than a real physical need. In another example, a student did not attend gym class and was in danger of failing. With supportive questioning, the student admitted she was embarrassed that she did not remember her gym locker combination. A simple change of the lock allowed her to return to gym class.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.