My son has hemophilia and loves to play sports. He is going into 6th grade this fall and wants to join the soccer team. How do I set realistic expectations with him and his coach?
You are not alone in your concerns – this is a common question from parents in the bleeding disorders community. Encouraging your son, while advocating for his safety, is important. Here are ways to set expectations with your son and his coach:
- Be honest. Discuss the risks and rewards of participating in a team sport.
- Take him to watch a competitive soccer game. Point out some of the issues that arise during the game and how he would have to handle them with his bleeding disorder in mind.
- Express to him that making a decision, like playing on a soccer team, takes planning. Make an appointment with his hematologist. Set the expectation that he should discuss this with his doctor, not just you as the parent, and together, you can make a plan.
- If the hematologist clears him to play, have your son join in discussing his disorder with the coach. Your son’s participation in this discussion will help demonstrate that he has the maturity and judgement to manage his condition. HFA’s My Bleeding Disorder document is a good resource for educating the coach about bleeding disorders and your child’s specific needs.
- Be sure to have your son wear a medical ID and let the coach know. You may also want to ask the coach what type of medical ID is allowed during games, as some referees will ask that jewelry be removed. Jewelry of this nature should still be worn.
- For away games, provide the coaches with this medical consent form. Your child can carry HFA’s ER card with him, as well.
- Read HFA’s blog Infusing Love: A Mom’s View for stories and insight from other mothers of children with bleeding disorders, including how to handle sports.
Playing sports is a good opportunity for kids with bleeding disorders to build independence and advocacy skills. Encourage your son to have fun and speak up about any pain or concerns he has while playing sports. Even the toughest athletes take breaks when they are not feeling well so they don’t make the injury worse!
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HFA frequently receives questions from the bleeding disorders community related to advocacy issues. The questions often impact the entire community. In an effort to reach the largest audience possible with our responses to these widely applicable questions, HFA developed “Dear Addy.” Questions submitted to this column are edited in order to protect privacy and should be considered educational only, not individual guidance.