Céline Dion’s Twins, 13, Have ‘Crisis’ Drills, Know to Use ‘Panic Buttons’ at Home If She Has Emergency (Exclusive)

"This is our lives now: We care for each each other, and they're so helpful," the superstar tells PEOPLE exclusively about her kids

<p>Celine Dion/Instagram</p> Dion with her sons Nelson, René-Charles and Eddy

Celine Dion/Instagram

Dion with her sons Nelson, René-Charles and Eddy

Céline Dion found the strength to face her health issues for her sons, and today they remain a crucial part of her support system.

The superstar is the youngest of 14 children, and growing up, Dion, 56, tells PEOPLE exclusively in its latest cover story that her parents — who often worried about where their next meal would come from — shielded them from any pain.

"Both [my] parents were extraordinary. We were very fortunate... I have been extremely supported and loved. There's been really, really, really tough times where my dad was working constantly and my mom only had love for us. We were not going to miss food, love, attention, affection, nothing," says Dion of her late parents, dad Adhémar and mom Thérèse. "The strength that I have is definitely because of them. They are still giving me a lot of strength in my life."

While she doesn't have the financial worries of her parents, Dion — who shares her journey in an emotional new documentary, I Am: Céline Dion (streaming globally June 25 on Prime Video) — protects her three sons, René-Charles, 23, and 13-year-old twins Eddy and Nelson (with late husband Réne Angélil), in the same way.

For all the details on Céline Dion's fight to get back to the stage and her life with her three sons, pick up the latest issue of PEOPLE, on newsstands Friday, June 14.

<p><a href="https://www.instagram.com/denisetruscello/" data-component="link" data-source="inlineLink" data-type="externalLink" data-ordinal="1">Denise Truscello</a></p>

Related: Céline Dion Says Her Sons Fuel Her to Fight Stiff-Person Syndrome: 'They Already Lost a Parent' (Exclusive)

"I [coped] with losing my mom and losing my dad and losing one of my brothers and losing the father of my kids — my husband, my manager — at the same time," the five-time Grammy winner says of the grief she navigated while simultaneously enduring debilitating health struggles. "I did not want my kids to be scared."

Ahead of her stiff-person syndrome diagnosis in August of 2022, Dion felt overwhelmed: "[They] will have something to eat tonight and tomorrow, but what if I don't know what's going on with me, and what if I die? What if I don't wake up? They already lost their dad. What are they thinking? Are they scared to ask me? Should I bring it up?"

Fueled by her love for her children, the singer finally prioritized her health. And following her diagnosis, she felt the burden lift — not just for her, but for her whole family.

"I let them know, okay, you lost your dad, [but] mom has a condition, and it's different. I'm not going to die. It's not something that's going to go away, [but] it's something that I'm going to learn to live with," she recalls telling her sons.

With a thorough treatment plan in place, Dion and her care team also educated her kids on SPS. "We started to talk to them about what's going on," she says of her twins.

Part of her symptoms include scary "crisis" episodes, during which her body becomes stiff as a board while she endures excruciating pain. "They saw a crisis — we explained it, we played it frame by frame. When I make a sound, or when I don't make a sound, and what can they do because they're 13 years old," she says. "They can help me out even if I don't communicate verbally because I can't produce a sound."

<p>Denise Truscello</p> Céline Dion on May 21

Denise Truscello

Céline Dion on May 21

Related: Céline Dion 'Grateful for the Love' as She Poses with All 3 Sons on Stiff Person Syndrome Awareness Day

Every two or three months, Dion and her physical therapist run through a fake crisis with Eddy and Nelson, and "we have panic buttons in the house and they know how to put me on my side," she says.

"The idea of telling them and showing them, it was not to frighten them. It is for them to know, 'I'm your mom and it's my responsibility. You're old enough to understand I might need your help,' " she says. "They're so amazing because I would say 15 minutes or so every night, they come and they say, 'Mom,' and I say, 'Yes?'

"[They say], 'It's just because it's been a little longer than you usually take when you clean up at night before bedtime. We just want to make sure you're fine,' " Dion continues of Eddy and Nelson's sweet check-ins. "This is our lives now: We care for each other, and they're so helpful."

<p>Christopher Polk/Billboard via Getty</p> Dion with her son René-Charles at the Grammys on Feb. 4

Christopher Polk/Billboard via Getty

Dion with her son René-Charles at the Grammys on Feb. 4

When Dion made a surprise appearance at the Grammys earlier this year to present Taylor Swift with the Album of the Year award, her oldest son accompanied her onstage.

"I didn't want to feel wobbly, and I was going to be very, very nervous and happy at the same time. What can happen? The applause... am I going to have a shock by seeing [the audience]? I don't want anything bad to happen," Dion — who can enter a crisis episode if her brain is overstimulated — recalls of her concerns ahead of the ceremony. "So my son said, 'I'm going.' I enjoyed every moment, and I was so proud of my son asking me every two minutes before I was on stage... 'Mom, are you okay?'

"He said, 'I'm going to walk with you, and then I'm going to back up a little bit. I will be behind you. Any time you need, you just look at me or just even move your hand. I will hold on, and you can hold on to me,' " Dion continues, growing emotional. "I have everything that I need."

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