Following on from my last post, another difficult topic that a young child may need to begin to understand is, of course, Parkinson’s. Particularly if a parent has Young Onset Parkinson’s. I don’t know how much they need to understand; of course, it depends on so many factors: the age and maturity of the child, the nature of the parent’s symptoms, and, of course, how ‘open’ the parents choose to be.
So far, I have talked to my children about my ‘poorly arm’, and how it doesn’t work as well as it used to. This is the most obvious aspect of my condition, and both children (ages 6 and 4) accepted my simple explanation, which (in its extended version) included an analogy with a computer. They also seem to accept that it isn’t going to get any better, and that mummy can’t help them much with buttons or shoelaces (I can just about do my own laces, but somehow it is much harder to do someone else’s).
There does not seem to be a glut of books about Parkinson’s for children. These are the ones that I have read:
- Virginia Ironside, agony aunt, columnist and author, has written a story for children aged 3-7 that is published by Parkinson’s UK in four versions:
My Dad has Parkinson’s
My Mum has Parkinson’s
My Grandad has Parkinson’s
My Gran has Parkinson’s
I have seen My Mum… and My Dad… , which are basically the same, with superficial differences in the text. Parkinson’s is explained to a fictional child by the parent without the condition, and the afflicted character doesn’t really do anything and does not have a voice in the story.
The explanations are good, although a bit lengthy for a 3-year-old, and the story is quite upbeat as the child is reassured at the end.
Virginia Ironside’s books are available free of charge from the Parkinson’s UK Web site.
- Parkinson’s UK also publish the following story for slightly older children (ages 8 to 11):
I like this book very much. It is written by a primary school teacher who has Parkinson’s herself, and it does a pretty good job of describing the early stages of Parkinson’s from the point of view of her daughter, Megan. Megan has an older brother and a younger sister, and their mum is a single parent. Megan’s voice is cheery and chatty. Megan’s mum is portrayed as being capable and independent despite the difficulties she encounters.
Karen Goodall’s book is available free of charge from the Parkinson’s UK Web site.
This post is getting a little long. I’ll talk about a couple more books – both published in America – in another post.