Getting a Job
Today people with epilepsy are working at hundreds of different kinds of jobs from one end of the country to the other. Many of these people have excellent seizure control, but not all of them do. Having occasional (or even fairly frequent) seizures may make your job hunt more difficult, but not impossible.
In fact, there are certain things you can do to increase your chances of getting a job. If you are just entering the job market, decide what sort of job you want and take a long look at the qualifications you'll need to reach that goal. The better qualified you are, the better your chances of success.
If your seizure control is not yet good enough for you to get a driver's license, avoid occupations that would require you to drive as part of the job, or that would place you in hazardous situations. Think about jobs that allow you to work at home, at your own pace. Keep in mind that the growth of the Internet economy has created many non-traditional job opportunities for people with computer skills.
If your seizure control is completely reliable, almost all jobs should be open to you. In fact, the only thing you may want to do that other job applicants don't is to learn how to talk comfortably about epilepsy with other people so that, if you discuss your epilepsy with an employer, you can explain how much or how little impact it has on your ability to perform your job well.
It is not always necessary to discuss epilepsy with a potential employer, however. Whether you do or not is up to you. If you have excellent seizure control and the employer does not ask any health-related questions, there's no reason to start talking about epilepsy unless you want to. Under the Americans with Disabilities Act, employers with more than 15 employees may not ask any health-related questions until after they have offered you the job.
The important thing is whether you are able to do the job as described. Employers are also required to make reasonable accommodation for a disability.
If you decide to talk about your epilepsy, or if you have to because of a legal question from the employer (after a job has been offered), remember that the more confident, well-informed, and relaxed you can be, the more reassured the employer is likely to be.
Explain how long you've had epilepsy and how well it's controlled. If you drive, say so. Say how long you've been seizure-free. Explain that research studies show the longer people are free of seizures, the greater the likelihood they will stay that way.
If you've never had a convulsive seizure in your life, mention that as well. Remember, the average person thinks everyone with epilepsy has convulsions all the time.
If you have only occasional seizures, point that out, too. Explain that if one should occur it will only last a very short time. And always explain how this condition actually affects your ability to perform in a job. Remember, too, that studies show people who have acquired good job skills have a better chance of getting a job, whether or not they have epilepsy.
If you feel you have been unfairly treated by a prospective employer and you want to challenge it, check with a lawyer. You can also get further information on epilepsy and legal rights from the Epilepsy Foundation.
In many communities, the local Epilepsy Foundation offers programs that help people with epilepsy to find jobs. Find your local Epilepsy Foundation office.