Epilepsy can affect people at any age. When you are dealing with epilepsy while in school, it’s important to be prepared for the challenges you might face.
Below are some tips for successfully managing your epilepsy in school.
IN ELEMENTARY & MIDDLE SCHOOL:
- While children with epilepsy often have the same intelligence range and abilities as other children their age, there can be a few factors that influence their success in the classroom:
- Medication can influence learning abilities, especially if it causes memory or concentration issues, or hyperactivity.
- Seizures themselves can impact learning (for example, if your child has an absense seizure during class time, or if their memory is affected by tonic-clonic seizures).
- Having unpredictable seizures can make your child anxious, which could lessen their inclination to take initiative and act independently in the classroom.
- If your child’s teacher assumes your child has lower learing potential than the other students, and holds lower expectations for your child, this could influence their academic development.
- If the neurological cause of your child’s epilepsy also affects regions of the brain associated with aspects of learning, this could also impact your child’s success in the classroom.
- Meet with your child’s teachers to talk about the impact that epilepsy may have on your child’s academic and social abilities. You can also discuss how they should act if your child has a seizure in the classroom.
- Ensure that the school has a medical record with information about your child’s medications, seizure descriptions, doctors, allergies, other medical conditions, and instructions for first aid.
- Discuss with your child any issues they may have with socializing at school. Since some of their classmates may not understand the condition, they may treat your child differently. Talking about ways to address these concerns can help empower them to address any social difficulties.
- Help others to understand. You may choose to arrange a local epilepsy association to come into the school to discuss the condition with students and staff.
- Look into your area’s educational policies, to identify what school your child would best be placed in. It’s best to choose a school environment that will best meet the education needs of your child, but you should also consider what will be best for all of the children in the classroom.
- If your child experiences learning difficulties, try to focus on your child’s potential and not on their limitations. It’s important that you try not to negatively influence their self-esteem and independence by holding unrealistic expectations.
- Encourage participation in extracurricular activities. The social and health benefits can be very positive for children living with epilepsy. Just make sure to discuss your child’s condition with the supervising staff, to ensure they are prepared for any seizure events.
IN HIGH SCHOOL:
- Epilepsy may prevent you from getting a driver’s license; however, remember that most people with epilepsy do eventually get to drive. In the meantime, you may need to ask your friends for rides if your school isn’t easily accessible.
- If your medication(s) or seizures make it hard to take notes in class, ask your friends to borrow their notes, or ask your teacher if they can provide you with complete course notes.
- Getting involved in school organizations and activities can be a rewarding experience. If you choose to get involved in your school, let the organization’s faculty advisor know about your epilepsy. Also, don’t be afraid to take a break during activities if you need it! Just let the faculty advisor know what you will and won’t be able to do.
- Having epilepsy is no reason for you to be excluded from school activities. You should not be prevented from playing sports, going on field trips, joining in school activities, or participating in your classes. Talk to your parents if you feel like your school is discriminating against you as a result of your epilepsy. With their help, you can decide on the best course of action to take, such as speaking with the principal or school board.