Preparing for a New School Year
Seizures and School
Having seizures at school can be socially damaging to a child and frightening to others. However, it doesn't have to be.
A well-informed, confident teacher and a supportive school nurse and school administration can make all the difference in the world.
There are several steps parents can take to create a more accepting school environment for a child.
Meeting the Teacher
First, take time to meet with your child's teacher before the beginning of each school year to discuss how epilepsy affects your child, what type of seizures he or she has, and how you would like the teacher to handle the seizures when they occur.
As seizures are a common problem, many teachers will likely have had other students with epilepsy. If your child's teacher is unfamiliar with seizures and needs information, contact your local Epilepsy Foundation affiliate.
Videos, pamphlets and first aid presentations available from the Epilepsy Foundation have a basic message: Students with seizures belong in school and are in no way a threat to other children.
With information, reassurance and plenty of opportunities to ask questions, other children can also learn to take seizures in stride and continue to accept the child who has them.
But gaining acceptance is not the only challenge for children with seizures.
While many children with epilepsy test within the same range as other children, their achievement at school may be lower.
There may be several reasons for this, including side effects from the medication, days spent out of school for tests or doctor visits and anxiety about having seizures at school. Memory or attention may also be affected.
One boy told his mother, despairingly, "Mom, I study and I know the words and I know it all and then, suddenly, it all goes away and I can't remember any of it. I try to hold on to it, but it goes away."
After a seizure, a child may be unable to remember anything that happened the previous day or immediately afterwards. Testing for learning disabilities may reveal specific difficulties related to where the seizures are occurring in the child's brain.