Understanding chronic illness for children and young people
There are increased rates of chronic illness and disease around the world. When living with a chronic illness, children and young people cope with different challenges that go beyond dealing with the disease symptoms. Having a chronic illness can be isolating for children and young people, as other friends, classmates and neighbours, do not always understand what is going on.
There are many aspects to living with a chronic illness both at home and in the classroom. The person with the illness may need to take medication regularly, which may affect the way they look. They may need special aids in the classroom and they may spend a lot of time away. Many also face teasing and along with the stress of physical symptoms, this can be a very tough time.
Parents with chronically ill children also need to manage their own feelings about their child’s illness. They may see their child being teased or left out of groups. They must face the uncertainty that sometimes comes with disease, as well as supporting their child through treatment. Parents face the added burden of coping financially throughout the testing and treatment that is needed and trying to juggle their time if there are other siblings.
With increased numbers of children and young people with chronic illnesses, there are lots of support groups available for young people and their parents. Families dealing with the pressure of chronic illness have access to resources, information, financial support, and opportunities to talk with others who may be in a similar place. While chronic illness is a complex health issue that involves both physical and emotional matters, families can find the help and support they need during this critical time.