As a reminder, I am not a medical professional. This post is for general informational and educational purposes only. Please see DWM’s full list of disclaimers and disclosures here.
I first discovered Migraine and Mia a few months ago and instantly fell in love with the story and art work. I reached out to the author, Kat Harrison, who was kind enough to send me a copy to share with all of you!
While finding children’s books about health are becoming more popular for sure, books about chronic illness for children are definitely not as common. What makes this book most special to me of course is that it focuses on migraine, which most folks don’t even realize children deal with.
Like many others living with migraine, I’ve experienced migraine attacks since the age of 14, however adolescents experience them even younger. The main reason I even know this is because my best friend happens to be a pediatric neurologist, otherwise, I would assume migraine in children did not exist. Myself (previously) and many other people make these type of assumptions because we don’t even fully understand what migraine is, let alone that it is a neurological disease. Not only does Kat provide a narrative for migraine, but a specific one for children with migraine – that can look much different from the adult experience with migraine.
Migraine in Children
According to the American Migraine Foundation, one in ten children lives with migraine – which in my opinion feels like a lot!
While migraine is the same disease that children face, their symptoms and the overall impact of migraine can look much unalike. Here are a few examples of migraine symptoms unique to children as explained by AMF:
– Head pain may be a constant, bilateral pain above the eyes
– Shorter migraine attacks, in comparison to adults
– Difficulty focusing and blurred vision
– Children may miss school and other important events due to head pain, as opposed to having to call in sick to work
– Alice in Wonderland Syndrome, as it is called, is most common in children, and has been associated with migraine as being a part of the aura that happens to some right before a migraine attack. It is described as episodes of visual hallucinations and perceptual distortions, where objects or body parts may look altered or out of proportion.
Like adults though, the best way to diagnose migraine in children is to speak with a doctor so they can learn about the specifics about what your child is feeling, your family history, and how their head pain is impacting their everyday life. While imaging is typically not required, your doctor may recommend it if they think your child may have other neurological issues going on.
The only real way for your doctor to know is to talk to your child about the specifics of their head pain, their response to current and previous treatments, their family history, and how their head pain affects their daily functioning and quality of life. From there they can recommend different treatment options such as making lifestyle changes, testing out which medications will work best, or adding supplements into your child’s routine.
Creating Children’s Books About Health
Before I jump into the story, I wanted to share more about the author and illustrator of the book!
Kat Harrison is an award-winning author and health advocate. She was inspired to create the kind of kid-friendly, informative book she herself would have wanted to see about health topics that aren’t usually addressed in children’s books. Kat realized her own experiences with chronic migraine, having lived with the condition for over eighteen years, made her the perfect person to write this kind of book. Her first book, Surgery on Sunday, focuses on helping children prepare for surgery – learning to be brave when encountering new and scary terrain. Kat also advocates for migraine awareness through her writing and vlogs on The Mighty, where she is community content producer.
Marusha Belle is both a fabulous children’s illustrator and fashion designer. In addition to Migraine and Mia she has published countless illustrations including a calming coloring book for kids. You can stay up to date and follow her and her gorgeous illustrations on Instagram here.
Migraine and Mia
Migraine and Mia is described as a story that presents living with chronic migraine, in a way that is easy to comprehend, while still providing humor and optimism. While the pain Mia feels is very real, the story demonstrates that it isn’t the be-all and end-all of a chronically ill person’s existence.
What I love about the book is how the language flows with the illustrations to perfectly grab a child’s attention, while making the topic interesting and easy to understand. As an adult, the illustrations are somewhat soothing – bold images that encapsulate what dealing with a migraine attack (aka a “full-body pain parade) feels like and usually difficult to explain.
I tried reading the book with little Noah who is just over two years old. Off the bat, he was most interested in the bookmark – which is very cool. If you order a book from Kat’s website here, each purchase includes this bookmark, a vinyl sticker, and coloring activity – which is sure to get your child (and toddler!) involved! Noah also enjoyed identifying Mia and all the other characters in the book, especially the four eyed monster.
Another awesome aspect of the book is the last page. In working with the American Migraine Foundation, it includes a fact sheet all about migraine in children and resources to help. I love the idea of a parent simply browsing at a bookstore and flipping through, only to learn more about migraine and children than they ever knew before.
Lastly, my favorite part of Migraine and Mia is how it is truly for children and adults. The amazing thing about children’s books about health is that they make it easier for us to all understand one another. Imagine having this book in your tool kit when trying to explain what your migraine is like to children. Comprehension, education, and empowerment is what this book is all about and I’m Mia’s newest, biggest fan.
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