Navigating Epilepsy: The Road Ahead

Epilepsy and Your Child’s School

educThe start of a new school year can be stressful for any child, but especially so for a child and parents of children with epilepsy. Children may worry about having a seizure in class or how other students will react. Parents often worry that teachers an school staff may not know how to handle an epileptic seizure, or worse, that their child will be singled out because of the epilepsy.
Most of the time these fears turn out to be unfounded. Epilepsy is very common and in most cases it will not be the first time the teacher has had an experience with a child with epilepsy.

But unfortunately, not every teacher, coach, nurse, and principal in the country was well-informed about epilepsy. Sometimes parents of children with epilepsy will have to get involved in certain situations, and do some teaching themselves.

Take the Initiative With Your Child’s School
The best way to prevent misunderstandings about epilepsy at school is to step in early. Even before you register your child in a new district of before the start of the school year meet with school personnel to learn about the 504 Plans or IEP plans that are available to children with epilepsy. Getting the right information to the right people at school early can make a big difference in your child’s school experience. Also be sure that they teacher is aware of epilepsy and how to handle a seizure should one happen in class.
For example, If your daughter has a seizure in class and the teacher isn’t informed about epilepsy, the teacher will automatically call an ambulance. Not only is the ambulance unnecessary, but the frenzied emergency process may frighten your child and the other kids in class even more than the seizure. When the teacher has been warned in advance, she won’t be surprised. She can lay your daughter on her side, and let her have the seizure. Then your daughter can calmly walk down to the school nurse or office when it ends.
Unfortunately, in some cases, where your child’s seizures are uncontrolled, home schooling might be a good option for a while. The convenience that home schooling offers a child with epilepsy, however, may be outweighed by the isolation from other children their age. So again work with your local school district to see what alternative programs are available for children with epilepsy.

With a little extra preparation and some advocacy you and your child can go on to have a happy and successful school experience.

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